Baguettes are, in theory, very simple. There is no reason for them to have anything more than flour, water, yeast, and salt. Yet online you can find an infinite number of recipes and techniques to make them. For a few years I’ve been making Peter Reinhart’s pain a l’ancienne baguettes with great success. However that bread, as delicious as it is, lacks that nice thin rounded baguette shape I envy.
So, with the last of the French style flour I received last year from my fiancée’s parents, I endeavored to try a new baguette recipe. Limited by the width of my oven, baking stone, and work surface, I couldn’t roll these as long as I’d prefer, but I’m quite happy with the end result.
The thing I struggled with the most was shaping and rolling out the baguettes. I think it was a combination of a lack of experience and surface tension on my work surface, which caused the dough to just roll around rather than lengthen very easily.
I’ve already made these twice in the span of two weeks and probably would have again, but we can only eat so much bread! It was down into the 20s and 30s here (and then 60 a few days later, go figure) so we had lots of soup and warm broth to dip slices into the past few days.
Last week it was also my birthday, and among the many wonderful gifts I received from friends was 11 lbs of incredible fresh milled flour (they bought me flours!) from Anson Mills. I’m looking forward to putting them to good use over the coming weeks and months.
Traditional French Baguettes (Makes 3)
- 1 kg (1000 grams) bread flour
- 650 grams water
- 20 grams salt
- 20 grams yeast
Combine all ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer and knead for 4-5 minutes, until the dough is smooth and clears the sides of the bowl. If kneading by hand allow 7-8 minutes. Place in a lightly oiled bowl and cover, letting rise for 90 minutes
Separate risen dough into 3 pieces and place on a lightly floured work surface. Fold one edge of the dough into itself, then over again to create a seam. Roll the dough forward while pushing outward to help create an elongated shape. Place the shaped baguettes on a floured linen cloth and let rise for one hour.
Preheat oven (with baking stone) to 500 degrees F. Just before placing baguettes on the stone score diagonally with a razor blade or sharp knife. Mist with water before baking and create steam in the oven by filling a cake or cast iron pan on a lower rack with boiling water. Bake for 20-25 minutes, rotating halfway through.