Best Baguettes Recipe! Classic French Baguettes

The word baguette literally translates as “small rod”; however, most people today would immediately identify it as a French type of chewy white bread with a crisp crust. Baguettes are far and away the most popular bread in France–or in any other French-speaking country for that matter.

Currently, about 25 million baguettes are sold in France each day. Baguette loaves are long, thin, and crusty, usually weigh- ing between 10 ounces and 1 pound. When I travel to France by car, a baguette is always one of the first things. I buy after crossing the border and I never have to look too far. It seems that even the smallest vil- lage in France has a church, a city hall, a patisserie, and a boulangerie.

If I am able to buy a baguette freshly baked first thing in the morning, I need nothing else for breakfast but a good cup of coffee.


  • 6 cups (1 L 440 ml) cold water
  • 3 pounds (1 kg 365 g) bread flour
  • 1 pound 6 ounces (625 g) cake flour
  • 3 tablespoons (45 g) salt
  • 1 recipe or 1 pound (455 g) Baguette Pâte Fermenté (recipe follows)
  • 1 ounce (30 g) fresh compressed yeast Vegetable oil or pan spray
  • Cornmeal


Autolysis occurs during one of the first steps in making a bread dough before mixing and kneading. It involves allowing a well-combined mixture of flour and water to rest for 15 to 30 minutes so that the flour has time to fully absorb the water. It has the same effect as the scalding method, the only difference being that with autolysis, the water is not heated. See page 92 for further information. If you are pressed for time, this step can be left out.


When you make the small-batch recipe, follow the instructions as given but scale the dough into 11-ounce (310-g) pieces and roll each piece to 20 inches (50 cm) in length.

1.Place 5 cups (1 L 200 ml) water (21⁄2 cups /600 ml for the small recipe), all but a handful of the bread flour, the cake flour, and the salt in a mixer bowl.

2- Combine the mixture, using the dough hook attachment at low speed, and continue mixing until smooth. Allow the dough to rest for 15 minutes (the process that occurs during this step is called autolysis; see Chef’s Tip).

3- Add the pâte fermenté to the contents of the mixer bowl. Dissolve the yeast in the remaining water, then add it along with the remaining handful of flour. Knead for 4 to 6 minutes; the ingredients should be well incorporated, and the dough should have a smooth texture.

4- Lightly oil the top of the dough or use pan spray. Cover and set aside to rise for 11⁄2 hours; this is known as bulk rising.

5- Divide the dough into pieces weighing 12 ounces (340 g) or 1 pound (455 g). Pound, fold, and roll each piece against the table to form short torpedo- shaped loaves, 6 to 8 inches (15 to 20 cm) long.

6- Line the loaves up on the workbench as you set them down. Very lightly spray vegetable oil (or pan spray) over the loaves. Cover the loaves and let them rest for 30 minutes to 1 hour on the worktable; this is known as bench resting or bench proofing.

7- Using the same method as for forming bread strings (see Figures 3-16 to 3-18, page 148), pound and roll each piece into a 23-inch (57.5-cm) baguette. Place the baguettes on floured breadboards or sheet pans lined with baking paper (see Note). Spray the tops of the baguettes lightly with water and let them rise until slightly less than doubled in size.

8- Dust a baker’s peel with cornmeal and carefully transfer the baguettes, 2 or 3 at a time, onto the peel. Using a baker’s blade, a dough cutter, or a serrated knife, cut well-defined slits, 4 to 5 inches (10 to 12.5 cm) long and approximately 3 inches (7.5 cm) apart, at a sharp angle on top of each baguette.


9- Transfer the baguettes to the hearth of a deck oven preheated to 450°F (230°C). Repeat slashing and transferring the remaining baguettes in the same manner.

10- Bake the baguettes, using steam for the first 6 to 10 minutes; depending on your oven, you may need to have the injector open the whole time or just for 15 to 20 seconds to fill the oven with steam.

11- Open the damper to let the steam out and continue baking approximately 10 minutes longer or until the loaves are golden brown and have a hard crust.

12- Transfer the loaves to racks to cool. Do not slice the bread until it has cooled to room temperature. Wrap and freeze any loaves that will not be served the same day.


If you do not have a hearth oven, there is no reason to place the baguettes on bread- boards in Step 5 nor do you need to use a peel to transfer them to the oven. Although the difference will be noticeable, a good result can still be obtained by baking the baguettes on paper-lined sheet pans.

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