The French baguette, with its crispy golden crust and soft, airy crumb, is an iconic bread loved worldwide. Baking a perfect baguette at home is a rewarding experience that allows you to savor the taste of France in your own kitchen. In this recipe, we’ll guide you through the process of making a classic French baguette.
- 500 grams (about 4 cups) bread flour
- 10 grams (about 2 teaspoons) salt
- 10 grams (about 2 teaspoons) sugar
- 7 grams (about 2 1/4 teaspoons) active dry yeast
- 350 milliliters (about 1 1/2 cups) warm water
- Activate the Yeast: In a small bowl, combine the warm water, sugar, and yeast. Stir gently and let it sit for about 5-10 minutes until the mixture becomes frothy. This indicates that the yeast is active.
- Mix Dry Ingredients: In a large mixing bowl, combine the bread flour and salt.
- Add Yeast Mixture: Pour the activated yeast mixture into the bowl with the dry ingredients.
- Knead the Dough: Mix until the ingredients come together, and then turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead the dough for about 10-15 minutes until it’s smooth and elastic. You can also use a stand mixer with a dough hook for this step.
- First Rise: Place the dough in a greased bowl, cover it with a clean kitchen towel, and let it rise for about 1-2 hours or until it has doubled in size.
- Shape the Baguettes: After the first rise, gently punch down the dough to remove excess air. Divide it into two equal portions for two baguettes. Shape each portion into a long, thin log, about 2-3 inches wide.
- Second Rise: Place the shaped baguettes on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a baguette pan. Cover them with a clean kitchen towel and let them rise again for about 30 minutes to an hour.
- Preheat the Oven: Preheat your oven to 475°F (245°C) with a baking stone or an inverted baking sheet inside. Place an empty, heatproof pan on the bottom rack of the oven.
- Score the Baguettes: Just before baking, use a sharp knife or a bread lame to score the tops of the baguettes with diagonal cuts. This helps the bread expand during baking.
- Bake: Carefully slide the parchment paper with the baguettes onto the preheated baking stone or baking sheet. Pour a cup of hot water into the empty pan at the bottom of the oven to create steam. Quickly close the oven door. Bake for about 20-25 minutes or until the baguettes are golden brown and sound hollow when tapped on the bottom.
- Cool: Remove the baguettes from the oven and let them cool on a wire rack.
- Serve: Slice and enjoy your homemade French baguettes. They’re perfect for sandwiches, bruschettas, or served with cheese and wine.
Tips for Perfect Baguettes:
- Use bread flour for the best results, as it has a higher protein content that aids in gluten development.
- The steam created by the hot water in the oven helps achieve a crisp crust. Be cautious when adding the water to avoid burns.
With this recipe, you can create classic French baguettes that are perfect for elevating your sandwiches or serving as an accompaniment to a wide range of dishes. Enjoy the wonderful aroma and taste of freshly baked baguettes right from your own oven!