French baguette is a French bread which is one of the most popular breads of France. Baguette is a hollow cylindrical loaf of bread with three or four leaf-like structures on it. Although the preparation process of a baguette is quite extensive and time consuming, it is definitely worth the wait and efforts. French baguette is very versatile bread, as it can be eaten with many other foods.
Sometimes this bread is also used in soups like French onion soup. So, just follow the recipe to prepare your own French baguette at your home and stun your guests with your culinary skills.
Difficulty level: Medium
Servings per recipe: 4 baguettes
Preparation time required: 4-4 ½ hours
Baking time required:30-40 minutes
2 baking pans
1 baker’s razor or sharp knife
1 large mixing bowl
1 wire whisk
1 large plastic bowl
1 dough cutter
Plastic cling film
1 lb. + 10 oz. of all-purpose flour
½ oz. of salt
500 ml of warm water (at about 90 degrees Fahrenheit)
1 tablespoon of active dry yeast
Cooking oil or cooking spray
Method of Preparation
1. Pour the warm water in a small bowl and add the yeast to it. Whisk the mixture lightly with a wire whisk and then pour the solution into a large mixing bowl. Then slowly add the flour to the yeast mixture and fold that in until you get sticky dough.
Flip and push the dough lightly to convert it into clean dough and then transfer it into a plastic bowl that has been greased with oil. Turn the dough a few times to coat it with the oil and then cover the bowl tightly with a plastic cling film to allow the dough to “autolyse” or rest for 20-30 minutes.
2. Once the time elapses, take out the dough from the plastic bowl and place it on your working area. Grease your hands lightly with oil and then stretch-and-fold the dough with your hands.
For stretching and folding the dough, stretch the dough from both sides and then fold over one-third parts of it from both the sides and then pull up one-third portion from the side closest to you and farthest to you to fold them over the other two side folds. Once that happens, flip the ball of dough and then pinch its bottom lightly with your fingers to form a clean ball of dough.
3. Once you are ready with the dough, let it sit uncovered for 20 minutes and then repeat the stretch-and-fold method 4-6 times after an interval of every 20 minutes. Once you have completed that process, lightly flour your working area and then knead the dough for 2-3 minutes with the heels of your hands. Now stretch the dough lightly to flatten it and then add the salt to it. Mix the salt with the dough by kneading it for 6 minutes more.
4. After you have kneaded the dough for 6 minutes, tear out a small portion of dough and then stretch it lightly to see if it is tearing. If the dough tears away, then place the dough on your working table and cover it up with a plastic cling film. Let the dough rest for 10 minutes and then uncover it to test it again.
For that, stretch-and-fold the dough once more and then cut out a small portion from it to see if the dough is tearing away this time. If it is not tearing anymore, then it means that your dough is ready.
5. Once done, take the dough and coat it lightly with oil or cooking spray. Coat the plastic bowl with oil once more and then put the dough in it. Cover up the plastic bowl with plastic film and let the dough “bulk ferment” or rise up for 2 hours. The dough should have doubled in size after 2 hours. Once that happens, take out the dough from the plastic bowl and then cut it into 4 roughly same sized pieces.
6. Next, take one of the cut out piece of dough and press it gently with your fingers. Now pull up the side farthest to your and fold it over the rest of the dough. Press the seam with your fingers and then fold the remaining top part of the dough to create cylindrical shaped dough.
Press the meeting point once again with fingers and at this point, your baguette dough will look like a spring roll. Roll all the dough balls in the same way and then cover them up with a plastic film to let them relax for 10 minutes.
7. In the meantime, put the 2 baguette molds in two separate baking pans and then grease the baguette molds generously with oil or cooking spray. Next, uncover the baguette dough and press them lightly along the seam. Then stretch one of the dough gently to elongate it.
Once done, pull up some parts of the dough from top to fold it over the remaining dough and then fold the remaining top part of the dough once more to create a long cylinder. Press the meeting points with the heels of your hands to create the seam. Repeat the same thing with all the dough balls.
8. Now roll out the dough cylinders with your palms to elongate them even more. Once all the dough cylinders are ready, place them seam side down on the baguette molds and then place the molds on the baking pans. Cover up the pans tightly with plastic film and let the pre-formed baguettes proof for 1- 1½ hours or until they swell up to 1.5 times of their original size.
Once that happens, uncover the baking pans and then slit the top of the baguettes lightly with a baker’s razor or a sharp knife. Do not slit the dough too deeply; just scour them lightly to create the leaves of the baguettes.
9. Once all the baguettes are docked (scoured), put some ice cubes in the pans and then cover them up tightly with heavy-duty aluminum foils.
The ice cubes generate steam which makes the baguettes crispier and crustier. Now insert the covered pans into a 500 degrees Fahrenheit preheated oven and bake the baguettes for 10 minutes. After that, uncover the pans and lower the temperature of the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit to bake the baguettes for 10 minutes more.
10. Once the time elapses, rotate the pans to 180 degrees and then interchange the positions of pans. Place the top rack pan on the lower rack and vice versa. This will allow all the baguettes to bake evenly at the same time. Now lower the temperature to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and bake the baguettes for 10-15 minutes more or until the top of the baguettes turn into a nice brown color.
Once done, take out the baguettes from their molds with the help of a knife and then let them cool down completely before cutting them into slices.