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French Baguettes

sliced baguette on a white cutting board

I’m sure you’ve seen loads of quick, easy French Baguette recipes online.  If you’ve ever tasted a French baguette, then you’d know that “quick” doesn’t maketh the proper French Baguette. But let’s have a go anyway…

I had a quick baguette recipe in my kit of recipes, and even though it tastes brilliant, it’s not really a French Baguette.  However, this new recipe for the home baker is easy, tastes amazing and the texture is about right. But be warned, it does take time for the dough to do its thing.

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We visited France some time back and ate a lot of baguettes (it seemed to be a requirement – LOL).   I decided that when I got home, I would work out how to make a proper French baguette, in my home kitchen.

A proper French Stick…

It should be dark golden brown on the outside, and the texture should be crunchy.  The inside should be soft and full of flavour, and there should be bubble holes like in the photo above.  French baguettes are best eaten within hours of being baked, although there are some tricks to bring them back to life, almost like they are freshly baked.

2 baguettes on a cooling rack.
French baguettes on a cooling rack

I didn’t want to add anything to the ingredient lineup to help the process along, but I did want the process “tweaked” a little so that we could reproduce this wonderful bread at home with ease.   They take time, not your time, but time for the dough to develop flavour and bubbles. You need to start the process the day before if you don’t have a sourdough starter.

I know the difference that commercial equipment, ovens and flour (that are fresh) can make.  I set it as my task, even down to purchasing French flour here in Australia.   After much testing and even finding suitable flour on the internet, I have to say I’ve nailed it.  Having purchased 20 kg of this flour to date, I can say that there is a difference (although it’s not a huge difference compared to good quality Aussie Bread Flour).

I’ve been making these French Baguettes in the Thermomix every couple of days since we came back.  I’m confident that you’ll be able to achieve the same results as me with just a little practice.  The total time it takes is around 20 hours (unless you have a sourdough starter, then it’s around 4 hours) but your time is minimal, just five minutes here and there.   There’s a couple of techniques with folding and shaping that are ideal to learn for the perfect baguette, but not mandatory. Practice makes perfect.  And please prove, prove, prove.  Don’t get impatient, just let it do its thing before you bake it.

YouTube video
sliced baguette on a white cutting board

French Baguettes

5 from 3 votes

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becs-table.com.au
How to make proper French baguettes. Great taste, great texture and easy to make. That's the sort of recipe I like, what about you?
Prep Time 3 hours
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 15 hours 20 minutes
Difficulty Easy
Course Yeasted Bread
Cuisine French
Servings 2 Baguettes
Method Thermomix and Conventional

Equipment

  • 1 Thermomix or Stand Mixer

Ingredients
  

Poolish Ingredients: Or make sure you’ll have 300 g Sourdough starter

  • 150 grams flour
  • 150 grams water
  • 50 mg a small pinch instant yeast

Final Dough Ingredients:

  • 300 grams flour
  • 150 grams water
  • 1.5 grams 1/2 to 1 tsp. instant yeast
  • 7 grams salt 2 heaped tsp Murray valley flaked
  • 1.6 grams diastatic malt powder 3/4 tsp
  • 300 grams All of the poolish or 300 grams sourdough starter

Instructions
 

Stand Mixer Method

  • If you don't have 300 g of Sourdough Starter, Combine all the poolish ingredients in a bowl and mix to combine. Cover and let ferment for 12 – 15 hours, or until the surface is creased and pebbled with bubbles. I would do this the night before you want to use it.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer with dough hook, combine all of the final dough ingredients except about 10% of the water. Mix on low speed to incorporate the ingredients, adjusting the water as needed to achieve a medium dough consistency. Your dough needs to be sticky but not too wet.
  • Continue mixing to a low-medium level of gluten development. How long this takes will depend upon your mixer, but about 10 – 15 minutes in a stand mixer.
  • Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled container. Cover and ferment at room temperature for about 1.5 hours.
  • Turn the dough into a lightly floured counter. Divide into two pieces (or more depending on the size your oven will take although two should be ok). Pre-shape each piece into a cylinder, cover, and let rest for at least 30 minutes.
  • Shape the dough into baguettes and place them in a lightly-floured couche. (or a clean T-towel)
  • Proof, covered, for about an hour to an hour and a half, or until the indentation left by a fingertip in the dough springs back very slowly.
  • Meanwhile, preheat the oven, with a baking stone if you have one, to 230°c. You will also need steam during the initial phase of baking, so prepare for this now. see tips
  • Just before baking, score the baguettes.
  • Add the baguettes to the oven adding steam and cook until deep golden brown. The darker, the better.
  • Cool on a wire rack.

Thermomix Method

  • If you don't have 300 g of Sourdough Starter, Combine all the poolish ingredients in a bowl and mix to combine. Cover and let ferment for 12 – 15 hours, or until the surface is creased and pebbled with bubbles. I would do this the night before you want to use it.
  • Weigh all the ingredients into the TM bowl and mix on speed 6/5 seconds
  • Knead for 5 minutes. You'll need to watch your TM because it likes to walk a bit when kneading. I trap mine in a corner, but be careful.
  • Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled container. Cover and ferment at room temperature for about 1.5 hours.
  • Turn the dough into a lightly floured counter. Divide into two pieces (or more depending on the size your oven will take although two should be ok). Pre-shape each piece into a cylinder, cover, and let rest for at least 30 minutes.
  • Shape the dough into baguettes and place them in a lightly-floured bakers couche.
  • Proof, covered, for about an hour to an hour and a half, or until the indentation left by a fingertip in the dough springs back very slowly.
  • Meanwhile, preheat the oven, with a baking stone if you have one, to 230°c. You will also need steam during the initial phase of baking, so prepare for this now. See tips.
  • Just before baking, score the baguettes.
  • Add the baguettes to the oven adding steam and cook until deep golden brown. The darker, the better.
  • Cool on a wire rack.

Notes

Bec’s Baguette with Sour Dough or a Poolish
APPROXIMATE TIMINGS:
Ferment poolish: 12 – 15 hours
Mix: 10 minutes
First fermentation: 1.25 hours
Divide and pre-shape: 10 minutes
Bench rest: 30 minutes
Shape: 10 minutes
Final proof: 1 – 1.25 hours
Bake: 15 – 25 minutes depending on size
Tips on Steam
There are many ways to create steam in your oven if you don’t have a steam function.
1. Place a tray in the bottom of the oven before you start, so it gets nice and hot. When it’s time to add the loaves, add some cold water from the tap and place your baguettes in as quickly as possible.
2. Place a tray in the bottom of the oven before you start, so it gets nice and hot. Add a cup of ice cubes when popping in the baguettes.
3. Place a tray in the bottom of the oven before you start, so it gets nice and hot. When it’s time to add the loaves add water to the tray (around a cup) and using a water spray the top of the baguettes generously while they’re in the oven. You need to do this quickly, so you don’t lose too much heat.

Want to know more?

Would you like to learn how to make Easy Overnight Sourdough?

Easy Overnight Sourdough

14 Comments

  1. Hi, can you halve the recipe to make one baguette in a thermomix? I am always unsure of halving yeast because no one wants to break a brick. I made the full recipe and it was delicious but I can’t eat two in a day and the texture suffered the second day.

    1. Hey Robyn,
      I know what you mean, traditional French baguettes will tend to stale quickly.
      You can definitely halve yeast, what may happen is your timings may alter. Less yeast, longer time to prove. Yeast grows, so the amount doesn’t matter so much if you have time.

      I have a couple of ideas for you, though.
      1. Soft baguette. If you can wrap the second one so that it doesn’t get any air, it will be better. The outside crust will soften, but it won’t dry out.

      Almost like a fresh one.
      2. Now here’s a neat chef tip for refreshing your baguettes. Still make two, you may as well while you’re there.
      For the second baguette (this is going to sound weird but trust me and try it) on day two hold it under the cold water tap and wet it all over. Wrap it in foil then place it in a hot oven (180°C) for 5 -10 mins, remove the foil and allow it to crisp up again, 5- 10 mins?. It will be almost like the first day you baked it. In fact, some people wouldn’t be able to tell.

      Here’s what happens to it.
      Because you’ve wet it, wrapped it in foil then heated it, the water turns to steam making it lovely and soft again. Then you remove the foil and dry the crust out again, making it crunchy on the outside.

      I always make the two of them for my hubby and I. We have the same issue about eating 2 in one day. But I figure if I’m going to the trouble of making a yeasted dough, I may as well make two. (If you can’t fit a large baguette in your freezer make two smaller ones?)

      The day I make them, I take the second baguette and wrap it in foil as soon as it’s cool. Then pop it straight in the freezer. That way all I have to do when I want another baguette is take it out of the freezer open up the foil, run it under the tap, wrap it back up and pop it in the oven. It’s great for dinner parties, or cheese platters when unexpected guests drop in. 😉

      Wow, I’ve written War and Peace. LOL Hope that helps though.
      Regards
      Bec

      1. It’s even better than War and Peace because bread is involved lol. I have popped baguettes under the tap before for a refresh but I am definitely going to try the wrap in foil method. Good excuse to make baguettes again this weekend hehe. Thanks for your help!
         

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