Intro

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The other night we sat down to a dinner that was so simple it went from in my head to on the table in under 15 minutes. So I couldn’t help but laugh when my husband commented, “this is my favorite dinner in a long time.” – or something to that effect. He fumbled his words and tried to choose them as cautiously as he could knowing that his pregnant wife is in a constant fragile emotional state. I knew what he was trying to say and that it went beyond the fact that the number of warm, home-cooked meals I’ve produced in the last few months has dramatically decreased so he was just happy to see something other than grilled cheese.

It was the homemade baguette which accompanied the simple meal that really made his heart melt like the butter on his warm bread.

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The next morning he happily sat down with his coffee and half a baguette, sliced and slathered with butter and jam. A breakfast that I too enjoyed nearly every morning living in a convent while studying art in Italy.

Bread is about as simple as it gets; flour, salt, water and yeast, yet I find there is nothing more satisfying and pleasurable than a slice of warm homemade bread.

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I enjoy every aspect of it. Transforming sleeping ingredients into something that is alive and growing. The smell of the awakened yeast having a feast of flour wafting through the kitchen and flooding my head with memories of all the times I’ve smelled it before.

The anticipation of pulling the warm loaf from the oven and having to let it cool just enough so that you can cut through it without causing burns. And then finally the oohhh and ahhh inducing first bite that makes the hours and even days of wait all worth it and immediately sets your mind on making the next loaf.

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Making baguettes at home can seem to be an intimidating task but I have been so happy with the results from this recipe. I think 12 loaves in about a week should be enough to prove how happy I’ve we’ve been with the final product.

Forming the loaves takes a bit of practice but I’m sure you will quickly get the hang of it after the second or third loaf. And even if they aren’t picture perfect you will not be disappointed with the taste.

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Thus I give my recipe for Homemade Baguettes or How to Turn a Simple Meal into a Memorable One.

 

 

Homemade French Baguettes

 

yields four baguettes
adapted from Artisan Breads Every Day, Peter Reinhart

Ingredients

5 1/2 cups unbleached bread flour (I’ve used all-purpose with great results)

1 tbsp coarse kosher salt

2 1/4 tsp instant yeast

2 cups warm water

Method

Prep Day: Combine all ingredients in bowl of mixer, set with paddle attachment, and mix on lowest speed for 1 minute until well blended and smooth.  Dough should form a coarse, shaggy ball.  Let rest, uncovered for 5 minutes.  Switch to dough hook and mix on medium-low speed for 2 minutes.  Dough should be smooth, supple, and tacky but not sticky.  Knead dough by hand on lightly floured work surface for 1 minute, then transfer to a large clean, lightly oiled bowl.  Cover with plastic wrap and immediately refrigerate overnight or up to 4 days.

Dough can also be made without the use of a stand mixer. Combine all the ingredients – start with a wooden spoon then switch to your hands when the flour is incorporated. Lightly knead until all the ingredients are well blended. Let rest for 5 minutes then knead for about 5 more minutes until dough is smooth and slightly tacky.

Baking Day: Remove dough from refrigerator 2 hours prior to baking.  Gently transfer to lightly floured work surface, taking care to release as little gas as possible.  Divide dough into four equal portions. You can also do as I have by removing just enough dough to make one baguette and have a fresh baguette everyday for the next four days from one single batch of dough.

Form Baguettes: Pat each piece of divided dough into a thick rectangle.

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Fold the bottom half to the center and seal the seam. Fold the top half to the center and once again seal the seam.

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Roll the top half of the dough over the seam to create a new seam on the bottom of the loaf.

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With seam side underneath, gently rock loaf back and forth, with hands moving out toward and increasing pressure at the ends, to slightly taper the loaf until baguette is the length of baguette pan (or baking sheet). Place the formed baguettes on a baguette pan or a baking sheet that has been oiled or covered with parchment.  Mist top of dough with oil, loosely cover with plastic wrap, and proof at room temperature for about 1 1/2 hours, or until increased to 1 1/2 times its original size.

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Baking: About 45 minutes before baking, preheat oven to 450 degrees.  Place a sheet pan, which will serve as steam pan, with a 1-inch rim on shelf under which baguettes will be baked.  Remove plastic wrap from the dough 15 minutes prior to baking.  Just prior to baking, score the dough 1/2 inch deep with a serrated knife or razor.  Transfer dough to the oven, pour 1 cup hot water into the steam pan.

Bake for 15 minutes, then rotate pan and bake for another 15-20 minutes, until the crust is rich golden brown, the loaves sound hollow when thumped, and the internal temperature is about 200 degrees in the center.  Cool on wire rack before slicing or serving.  Best eaten the same day, or heated briefly in the oven the next day if crust loses its crispness.

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My little helper

66 Responses to “Baguettes at Home”

  1. kristel wyman

    wow, i hardly knew it was possible to make this from scratch. that sounds like a joke, but i’m kinda serious. that’s sad.

    i’m going to try this soon.

    Reply
  2. NIck

    Wow, looks great. Mine always flatten out. “I find there is nothing more satisfying and pleasurable than a slice of warm homemade bread.” – truer words have never been spoke.

    Reply
  3. zebulon

    Nothings beats butter (better: salty butter!) on a slice of toasted baguette in the morning… As simple as it can get, and yet, so good.
    Thanks for this heartwarming post, and greetings from the country of the baguette! :)

    Reply
  4. Deanna

    I’ve been wanting to try making a baguette but I kind of got stuck on the no-knead bread technique and it doesn’t lend itself to shaping.

    Reply
  5. Joanne

    You are so right, there is nothing that makes a meal more than homemade bread. These baguettes are gorgeous.

    Reply
  6. tara

    the bread alone had me a little emotional, then the sight of your two little helpers nearly put me over the edge. beautifully done, my friend. nothing beats good bread.

    Reply
  7. cathy x.

    i love seeing recipes like this. simple baking skills at home are being lost to mass production and your step-by-step photographs are both beautiful and inspiring!

    Reply
    • Ashley Rodriguez

      Cathy,
      I’m so glad you enjoyed the post and couldn’t agree with you more about simple baking skills. Hoping my boys will love baking as much as I do.

      Reply
  8. Katrina

    So simple, and yet so perfect! I love warm bread, and have never made a baguette before! I can’t wait to try this.

    Reply
  9. Michelle

    I love making fresh bread for dinner parties. Everyone, including myself is amazed that the bread just came out of the oven or that it is just sooo easy.

    Reply
  10. Christine

    Oh, your last photo melted my heart — reminds me of the times when I had little helpers in the kitchen (how fast they grow up)!

    Reply
  11. alison

    wow! i just made these today and they turned out totally delicious!!!! Thanks Ashley! Now, I never need to buy bread again! :)

    Reply
  12. Megan Gordon

    What perfect looking baguettes, and what sweet little helpers. I recently made bread from Jim Lahey’s book and I’m hooked. A few friends have told me Peter Reinhart is my next task. Thanks so much for the great recipe and photos.

    Reply
    • Ashley Rodriguez

      Megan,
      Jim Lahey’s No-Knead bread is incredible!! I myself have never made it but have had the pleasure of eating it several times from friends.
      I hope you try this baguette!

      Reply
  13. molly

    oh, hot diggity! just got this book, and am tickled pink the baguettes have been tried and approved. i couldn’t agree more with your husband – bread and butter make one of the best meal’s i know.

    Reply
  14. Heather Antonelli

    Wow! Those look delicious. I am not much of a baker but you certainly made it seem easy. The idea of a warm baguette with homemade preserves along with my cafe au lait certainly is a driving inspiration. Your pictures are beautiful. I look forward to following you.

    Reply
  15. Beth

    These look amazing and your gorgeous photos might give me the courage to give them a shot this weekend. I’ve been wanting to bake baguettes for weeks and just haven’t planned them out (and as you know you need to plan! for bread). Thanks for the thorough recipe and lovely photos! With jam and butter for breakfast sounds just divine.

    Reply
  16. zara

    I attempted to make baguettes using the recipe from “French Women Don’t Get Fat” needless to say I don’t think I’ll be making bread anytime soon. I might give it one more try using your recipe. With your pics you make it look so easy. I was a mess.

    Reply
  17. rose

    Just wanted to post and tell you I just made ANOTHER batch of bread! I looove making it and having it ready in the fridge during the week to take out for dinner or guests or breakfast! Love it! I’ve found (by accident;) that leaving it out for 3 hours before baking and brushing the top with butter before baking makes it super yummy too! Yay for bread! Thank again for the awesome recipe!

    Reply
  18. jana

    I’m going to get the dough ready today and with any luck we will have homemade French Baguette’s with our French dinner tomorrow.

    Reply
  19. jana

    I’m going to get the dough ready today and with any luck we will have homemade French Baguettes with our French dinner tomorrow.

    Reply
  20. Dea

    Thank you so much for posting this! Can I freeze the dough after it’s shaped? (sorry, very beginner baker here)

    Reply
    • Ashley Rodriguez

      Dea – You certainly can. I would thaw the dough in the fridge overnight then let it rise for a couple of hours before baking. A baked baguette also freezes very well – just refresh in the oven prior to eating.

      Reply
  21. lisa

    I just pulled the baguettes from the oven. Perfection! Thank you so much from our family :)

    Reply
  22. Melissa

    I made the dough yesterday and now have taken it out of the fridge. Not sure if I am supposed to let it sit for the 2 hours before forming…
    Gonna make the loaf with the dough out of the fridge…hope it works :)

    Reply
  23. HEATHER BARRICK

    fabulously easy! last week i made this bread exactly as written and it baked up to perfection :) today i added rosemary and made 2 larger loaves instead of the 4 baguette size with equal success :) thank you for such a fool proof(pun intended) bread recipe!

    Reply
  24. sarah

    I just formed the loaves and it was so hard! I must have done something wrong because my dough was super dense. It rose overnight in the fridge, almost double, but the dough just seemed too stiff to me. The loaves are rising now. I hope they turn out!

    Reply
  25. Jesus G

    Fanstastic recipe! I just made two loafs and they are just delicious… Thanks a lot for sharing!

    Reply
  26. Cheri

    Oh, so delicious. Nothing says loving home like warm bread with Amish butter. Thanks for sharing this delightful recipe.

    Reply
  27. amy @ fearless homemaker

    what an awesome recipe! i’ve used it no less than 4 times in the last month + it turns out just wonderful. i’m planning to do a post on my blog about it either tomorrow or next week, with a link to this post since you have such wonderful step-by-step pictures. hope that’s okay. thanks for sharing such a great recipe!

    Reply
  28. Meg

    Love this idea? Question: how would you alter this recipe with regular yeast, rather than instant yeast?

    Reply
    • Ashley Rodriguez

      Meg – I haven’t played around with the differences between the two. You could use a little less instant yeast but I don’t think replacing one for the other is going to make a huge difference in this recipe. You want a long, slow fermentation for flavor and structure development and that is why it sits in the fridge. Either yeast would be fine though.

      Reply
  29. Maureen

    Help. I made the dough yesterday morning. I took out half this am to make 2 loafs. I gave up trying to get them to roll out as long as you say to. They won’t. They are cold; I let them sit 10 minutes to see if that would help. It didn’t. Suggestions please.

    Reply
  30. Weyn

    Thank you for this very easy to follow recipe! I made my baguettes using all-purpose flour, overworked and overbaked the dough, so the results I had weren’t exactly award-winning. But you and your recipe make it seem so easy—so I made another batch last night! :D Thank you also for helping me get over my fear of baking bread!

    Reply
  31. Judi

    I made the dough, it’s resting now in the fridge. Dinner of wine, cheese & baguettes with my love awaits. Thank you!

    Reply
  32. Miran

    Perfect! I just finished making one loaf this evening. It was delicious! I kept the other 3/4 of the dough to cook tomorrow or the next day, like you had suggested. I don’t have a stand mixer so I did it manually. I was worried I had over worked the dough because it was harder than I thought it should have been. I guess that it was right because they came out great. Thanks for the recipe!

    Reply
  33. Tara

    Bread, it just brings families together. You’re little helpers are super cute and i’m sure always excited to help because they know the end result is worth their efforts. I know that’s what got me going in the ktichen to help Mum and Grandma all the time! Can’t wait to make this for my girlfriends!

    Reply
  34. Jess k

    I love when I’m looking ffor something online and your website comes up. I guess I should just come here first.

    Reply
  35. Sarah G

    Wow … I cannot wait to try this recipe. I may not be able to fit through the door anymore from all of the baguettes I’m going to be eating but I think it’s worth it :P beautiful blog

    Reply
  36. Caroline

    Can’t wait to try this out! If I wanted to freeze some of the dough, at one point in the process would I do that?

    Reply

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