Classic French Baguette
Delicious, crusty loaves made in the traditional fashion.
14 hours (overnight)
About this Recipe
If there’s anything better than a classic, crusty baguette, I’ve yet to find it. These long loaves are delicious (that overnight rise lets the flavors do some amazing things!), versatile, and provide a sensory experience that softer breads just can’t aspire to. Smother them with butter, broil some deli meat and cheese on them for lunch, dip in spiced olive oil for an appetizer, or top with honey or jam for a sweet treat.
Traditional baguettes are made using a baker’s couche—thick fabric that holds its shape, encouraging the loaves to rise how you want them to without spreading into each other. You can also use shaped baguette pans, or, if you don’t have any of that, just tear off a long piece of parchment paper, leaving plenty of room between each loaf and then pulling the paper up between them. If you have a digital scale, measure your ingredients by weight instead of volume for more accuracy.
The real secret to that crusty baguette, though, is putting a pan of boiling water in the oven with the bread. The steam is the key to the crust!
- 500 grams / 3 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- 360 grams / 1 ½ cups + 1 tablespoon water
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon instant yeast
- 1 teaspoon honey
- Mix all ingredients in a large bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it rest for 15 minutes.
- Work the dough. Sprinkle a little more flour on the dough so you can work with it, then stretch and turn the dough, folding it onto itself. Flip it upside down. Do this three times over the course of about 90 minutes.
- With the bowl covered again, let it rest on the counter overnight, or for 12-14 hours.
- The next morning, divide the dough into two or three rectangles. Cover with a towel and let them rest for 45 minutes to 1 hour.
- Pre-heat your oven to 500. To get the oven good and hot, start the heat cycle while the dough is resting, especially if you’re baking on a baking stone (which is recommended). You need two oven racks for this process; the top one will hold your bread. On the bottom rack, you’ll be putting a pan filled with boiling water. The steam it makes gives the baguette its classic crust.
- Shape the dough. Stretch each rectangle and fold into a cylinder. Seal the seams and put it seam-down on parchment paper, baguette pans, or a couche. Let the dough rest for another 30 minutes.
- Score the loaves. With a sharp knife, make diagonal cuts in each loaf.
- Add water to oven. Fill a pan (an 8×8 or loaf pan works great) with boiling water and slide it onto the bottom rack of the oven.
- Bake. Decrease oven to 475 and bake for 15 minutes. Remove the water, decrease temp to 450, and bake another 15 minutes.
From the Books
With her French influence, Evie loves to introduce some Continental favorites into the menu of the inn. Though not mentioned explicitly, you can be sure that French baguettes were a favorite loaf at her table!
A Louisiana favorite shines with fresh duck, making this a perfect recipe for hunters; you can tailor the spices to your tastes!
A fresh salad of parsley, mint, and green onions, with roma tomatoes and bulgur wheat marinated in a tangy dressing.
Belgian Hot Chocolate
If you love hot chocolate, you’ll fall in love with this rich, decadent drink of melted chocolate and creamy milk.