Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Perfect French Baguette at Home – Only Impossible If You Don’t Try It

Whenever someone asked me why I hadn’t done a baguette video yet, I’d tell them because you just can’t recreate an authentic loaf of French bread at home. 

I’d explain about the water, the flour, the centuries old starters, and the steam-injected ovens. I told them what I’d been told; that it was simply impossible, or as the French say, "impossible!"

That was, until I actually tried to make some. Much to my amazement, not only was it possible, it was really pretty simple. The key is water. That goes for the dough, and the baking environment. The dough must be very sticky, as in hard-to-work-with sticky. This is nothing well-floured fingers can’t conquer, but I did want to give you a heads-up.

Besides the water content in the dough, the oven must also be moist. This humidity, in addition to some occasional misting will give the crusty baguettes their signature look. How does this work? You know how when someone pours water on the rocks in a dry sauna, and suddenly it feels way hotter? It probably has something to do with that.

Anyway, who cares why it works, the important thing here is that real, authentic, freshly-baked baguette is now an everyday reality. One thing worth noting; I adapted this no-knead version from a recipe I found here last year. The original is in metric, so I’ve converted it, but also included the original flour and water units in case you want to get it exact. I hope you give this easy, and so not impossible baguette recipe a try soon. Enjoy!


For 4 smaller or 2 large baguette:
1/4 tsp dry active yeast (I used Fleischmann's Rapid Rise Yeast)
(Note: if you want to use a traditional bread technique, add the whole package of yeast (2 1/4 tsp) and proceed as usual)
1 1/2 cups water (325 grams)
1 3/4 tsp salt
18 oz by weight all-purpose flour (500 grams), about 4 cups
- Mix dough and let rise 12-14 hours or until doubled
- Punch down and shape loaves, let rise covered with floured plastic 1 to 1 1/2 hr or until almost doubled
- Bake at 550 F. about 15 minutes or until well-browned
- Spray with water before baking, at 5 minutes, and at 10 minutes during cooking time

107 comments:

Melbe7 said...

My food wish came true! Thank you so much! I can't wait to make this. :)

jlee said...

Had the best bread when I was in France. Maybe I can finally recreate it. Thank you so much, I've been putting off making baguettes, but a no knead recipe I can't resist not trying.

cookinmom said...

Phew...that's a lot of work for those tiny things! All worth it though. :0)

hiuh bunbv said...

How could one preserve the dough to bake it another day and how long is it possible to maintain it for?

hiuh bunbv said...

How would it be possible to preserve the dough to bake it another day and also for how long could one maintain it for?

Chef John said...

You can keep a day in fridge. Just punch down and chill wrapped until you need it.

bdwilcox said...

You are the baronet of your baguette.

Penny said...

The baguettes look sooo delicious, Thank you so much Chef John!!!

Coleens Recipes said...

I make a lot of bread, so this looks totally "do-able", LOVE that crunch crust.

Unknown said...

I prefer to put a separate sheet pan with a bit of pre-boiled water into the oven for the first five or so minutes.

Jasen said...

Thanks for another great recipe and video. The before you snip it comment had me rolling

edward said...

The baguette is your marionette.

7d420618-377e-11e3-bf8e-000f20980440 said...

would it be possible to make one big loaf out of this? I wanted to make grilled cheese and was looking for large slices of bread

Deniz Uz said...

My oven has a tendency to scorch the tops of things when I bake at over 400 F, how can I prevent that from happening? Or can I bake these at just 400 F, would they turn out the same? I'm assuming the crisp crust needs a hotter oven.

Brian Walsh said...

Chef John, would a pizza stone add or detract from this wonderful experiment of yours?

Chef John said...

Brian,
It wouldn't detract, but I wouldn't bother, since the bottom crust was great.

Chef John said...

Deniz, Not sure! Maybe try lower in the oven. You can bake at 400 but classic crisp baguette crust won't form as well.

clyderamirez said...

Chef John this is a miracle! I made this today using your exact instructions and you are right you really can't mess this up! Two years of culinary school and one year of pastry and I still can't get bread right...and then there was foodwishes! I love this blog i love the channel thank you!

Jackie Reynolds said...

I make the no knead bread from this site often. This baguette looks so amazing with the big holes. I don't seem to be able to get the big holes with AP flour. I have better luck with bread flour (at least 4 gm of protein per serving. My best bread comes from Stone Buhr bread flour or King Arthur's Sir Lancelot high gluten flour. Even then the holes aren't as big and lovely as yours. Any suggestions?

Chef John said...

I've done with bread and AP flour and don't notice a big difference. I've always thought the bigger holes come from a wetter dough, more so than the strength of the flour.

ponderer [jc] said...

Is it ok to sprinkle water by hand for this? I don't have a spray for it because I'm travelling long term right now. I don't think I can justify buying one to fit in my backpack just for this.

Jackie Reynolds said...

Thanks for answering. I'll keep trying. The thing about using scissors is genius!

amandacp said...

Hi chef, loved the recipe. Do you think its possible to make it in a snake shape for a Halloween party?

(Greetings from Brazil!)

Chef John said...

Never tried to drip, but could work!

Sialia said...

This was dinner tonight. Seriously--I served it for the entrée, with a side of apples, cheese, butter, honey, lox, etc. and let everyone assemble their own--or not. Mostly, we just ate it. It was yummy--exactly as advertised. Will make again and again and again. Thank you so much!
(P.S. also want to use your crème fraiche recipe with your homemade cream cheese recipe to make a spread to go on it. Next time for sure!)

Sialia said...

Also--I forgot to mention--I didn't have a spray bottle and was too impatient to go get one. I used a wet pastry brush. Worked fine.

Elton Carvalho said...

Thanks again, Chef!

I just mixed my batch and it's rising now (and it's 4 AM here!). Let's see tomorrow how it goes.

I forgot to add the salt before mixing in the flour, so I had to add it when the dough was in the "OMG it's too dry" stage. To uniformize the salt distribution I had to do some folding and pressing with the wooden spoon, let's hope it does not break the "no knead" rules.

To Deniz, about the scorching, the guy from vivalafocaccia has the same problem with his oven and he puts an aluminium foil on top of the bread after he gets the desired browness (avout halfway into baking)

P.S.: Thanks for giving the measurements in grams, Chef! I have to press less buttons in my scale ;)

Mike Impallaria said...

Hey Chef John,

I was wondering if using the Rapid rise vs dry active yeast will make a difference in the method? Doesn't the active dry need to be 'activated' first with warm water.
Any suggestions?

Thanks

Chef John said...

I've used both and didn't notice a big difference. You should add the yeast to the water first regardless. Enjoy!

Chris Stevens said...

So good.

I am so getting la_d tonight.

Thanks Chef.

(by the way, the I is missing)

J6U said...

So I guess baguettes are out of the question for my new French Bakery...

rainydaysarebeautifu said...

This is AWESOME!

but..is it possible to make a french bread loaf instead of a baguette, with this recipe?

David Hill said...

Mine didn't get really dark brown. Light and crunchy.

More time?

connieemeraldeyes said...

I don't think you are supposted to use Silpat's at 550 degrees. I just made a French bread at 475 and it came out crispy, I used parchment paper.

Jasen said...

Made this tonight and was fantastic. All four loaves disappeared quickly. Thanks again for all the recipes and videos you post.

Jasen

joker333 said...

wonder how this would work with wheat flour? comments or advice about typical substitutions?

Sialia said...

Umm. Further experiment: if you use a little too much water on the crust, you get a thicker shell, more like a Philly hoagie roll. I love this, too. Just different.

Also, if the oven isn't hot enough to brown the crust after 20 minutes, I move the rack up and turn the broiler on. Seems to finish things nicely. Because of the low sugar and no oil, this is not a dough that browns quickly unless the heat is really high, but the inside does need enough time to cook.
(true confession: I've been making this bread for four days now. Can't seem to get enough!)

Natalie Kilpatrick said...

Hmm. I should've quartered the dough like you said.

Either way it's so crunchy and OMFG I can't wait to dig in. It's still cooling off.

https://scontent-a.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ash3/1384251_10151701618476724_566269003_n.jpg

Drew Olson said...

I would say, after following the written ingredient directions (although to his credit he did suggest otherwise in the video), I would say that in this case, this is "Do as I say, not as I say!" Which may be confusing, but if you watch the video you'll understand.

4 cups by cup measurement is WAY too much and will turn into a near-death wad of crumbling flour, nothing near the sticky soft end result you're looking for. I scrapped it after realizing it was hopeless and pulled out the scale. 2nd time around - PERFECT. Measure by weights, the suggestion is sound!

Chef John said...

You must have packed though cups, as a properly measured (not scooped) cup should weigh 4.5 oz, which would make 18oz total, but yes, the scale is the only way to go.

wvcapt said...

Dough is rising. Plan to bake tomorrow using a baguette pan. Any comment?

Phil said...

Awesome bread but no so awesome French (tray Magnific!!?) haha j/k

Bogey Man said...

Haven't made this yet, but I'm going to. After forming the loaves. I'm going to sprinkle the corn meal on my work surface and lay the loaves on top and lightly tap on them (just enough to get some corn meal to adhere) and then put them on my baking sheet. Should eliminate the burnt meal problems.

Timeless14 said...

Making it right now. Scooped up four cups of flour but it ended up being too much. Added a bit more water and it was fine. Hopefully this didn't screw up the taste. Guess I'll find out tmw. Really should buy a scale...

Timeless14 said...

Making this now. Scooped 4 cups of flour and it was too much. Added a little bit more water and it was fine... though i hope it didn't screw up the taste. Guess I'll find out tmw. Really should buy a scale.

rosiethepostie said...

Thanks so much for this recipe! I've got some work to do practising to shape the baguettes since the dough is so sticky and tough to work with. Tastes amazing though!

Unknown said...

Is it a good idea to use a kitchenaid mixer for this? I was wondering since I need to use a bowl either way and I don't want to overmix it.

tdubyawoods said...

For those without a spray bottle, I just used a soaked paper towel (don't wring it out too much, you want it pretty soaked) and pat the loaves all over the top. Worked like a charm for me.

Don't forget to do it BEFORE you put it in the oven, I missed this step on the first batch and I was amazed how much better the 2nd batch looked like when I remembered to do it before putting them in.

Thanks Chef John for another great recipe! For whatever reason, breads have been my nemesis, but, this one worked really well.

El Jefe said...

I've made this recipe a couple of times now using the KitchenAid mixer. I set it on the lowest setting until the flour is incorporated then bump it to '3' until it 'just' pulls away from the bowl. Works like a charm. THANK YOU CHEF JOHN!!

Mike Hartmann said...

Chef - is it possible to make baguette using whole wheat flour instead?

Chef John said...

Yes, but they don't taste nearly as good.

Sam Aragon said...

Did you use instant or active dry yeast?

Chef John said...

Sam, gave specific yeast in the ingredients! ... "1/4 tsp dry active yeast (I used Fleischmann's Rapid Rise Yeast)"

figspot said...

I've made this twice already and the bread comes out okay. My only problem is that it comes out very pale and not dark brown -- it's still cooked, though. Any suggestions?

Chef John said...

Your oven can't be up to temperature. 550 degrees will brown any loaf. Are you using the spray and the water?

Chef Ash lol said...

Chef i have to say not one of your recipes have failed me yet. These included. My crappy oven only goes to 250c but just gave it a bit more time and was perfect. I never made dough before and theres were incredible. Also ur wings kick arse both my girlfriend and i thank you

Chef Ash lol said...

Appreciate all your work chef. You are great at what you do. I hope i can be as good as you one day

Deborah Warner said...

How do I keep the left over dough? I am also planning to make two loaves at a time. And how long can I keep it before it is unusable.

Donya Hara said...

Chef John, we really need your point of view on what connieemeraldeyes said. Your Silpat is 480 F max recommended but you are baking at 550 F. I've played with fire today with 500 F (on my well calibrated oven) instead of my usual 475 F just to see what happens with my made in China cheap clone but 550 F is a bigger stretch and not really necessary as 15 min @ 250-260 C is right on target with the pros in France. Do you know something we don't (like Silpat can actually handle more than it claims), or was it a calculated risk or a simple oops on your side? Or maybe we shouldn't be too tight and literal on recommended max temps?

Chef John said...

Didn't give it any thought. I probably should use parchment at that temp, but I didn't think of it. I've used silpat at these temps though and haven't seen an issue.

Chef John said...

Didn't give it any thought. I probably should use parchment at that temp, but I didn't think of it. I've used silpat at these temps though and haven't seen an issue.

El Medico said...

Sooooooooo, i put the water in first, while the oven was pre-heating, and blasted myself in the face with steam..... Not fun. Memo to everyone, careful when you open the that oven.

Douglas Webster said...

Just have this a shot. To be honest I've never cooked bread at all before but when I saw how easy it looked in your video I wanted to try. Did everything step by step with the video. My oven only goes to 500F but I figured that would still be good enough. I sprayed every 5 minutes but the baguettes still did not brown. They cooked through but they are very pale. I'll try it again and try raising the rack to a higher position in the oven. Otherwise I'm not sure if I'll be able to make it work.

Sarah Keast said...

Hi Chef, on my 3rd attempt! It's was with bread flour (ran out of AP) and this was ok. Tried again with AP but too dry. Now on the third batch which had a beautiful sticky consistency but all three batches have had a tendency to 'spread' resulting in very flat (almost ciabatta) style loaves. Any guidance? Cheers Sarah

V said...

The day you posted this recipe I was dying to try it. I finally did a couple weeks later I haven't been able to stop. Bread making was never something I enjoyed, too much of a day was devoted to waiting for dough to rise. This is the perfect alternative, 10 minutes to mix, let sit for half a day, 10 more minutes to shape, another short rise, and 15 minutes to bake. So easy! And the resulting loaves are more delicious than any home made bread I've tried. Thanks Chef!

nicolasconnault said...

I've made this a couple of times now, with great results, except that I find it extremely difficult to shape the bread when it's so sticky. Any tips for that?

Also, I had a bit of an accident... Instead of spraying the loaves with water, I poured some water directly in an empty metal tray underneath the loaves. That filled the oven with steam, but some water splashed back onto the glass panel of the oven's door, and it ... well, it exploded with a loud bang! Glass everywhere (except on my loaves!).

Has this ever happened to anyone?

Joseph Holman said...

Do I have to bake all 4 loaves in the same day? I saw that you said that chilling it in the fridge for a day would work, but is there any way to store the dough long term? Thanks!

Chef John said...

You can probably freeze, but never tried. Why not just make half a recipe? It's so easy, why bother trying to store?

Aysha Dok said...

Plz advice do you use 1/4tsp instant yeast for 4cups flour or the more yeast plz advice thx chef

Chef John said...

Sorry, I don't understand question

Thomas Deligiannis said...

Dear Chef John,

First of all, thank you for all your video's. You really changed the way my wife and I eat. Much appreciated.
You're like the Bob Ross of food. Your video's are hilarious.

I tried the baguette last night for Christmas dinner, and as nice as the bread was, the dough flattened out too much the second time I let it rise.
They were in a gorgeous shape, but after an hour and a half they looked more like a Chiabatta.

Again, the bread was amazing but how I can make the dough a bit "stiffer". Or stiff enough so it stays in the baguette shape a bit better while it's rising.
Please note I let it rise 16 hours overnight instead of 12 (wasn't back in time).
Could that have been the issue?

Many thanks and keep making video's!

Thomas Deligiannis said...

Dear Chef John,

First of all, thank you for all your video's. You really changed the way my wife and I eat. Much appreciated.
You're like the Bob Ross of food. Your video's are hilarious.

I tried the baguette last night for Christmas dinner, and as nice as the bread was, the dough flattened out too much the second time I let it rise.
They were in a gorgeous shape, but after an hour and a half they looked more like a Chiabatta.

Again, the bread was amazing but how I can make the dough a bit "stiffer". Or stiff enough so it stays in the baguette shape a bit better while it's rising.
Please note I let it rise 16 hours overnight instead of 12 (wasn't back in time).
Could that have been the issue?

Many thanks and keep making video's!

Thomas Deligiannis said...

Oh and merry Christmas to you,John. And all your fans out there. :).

Aysha Dok said...

Chef u hve a 1/4tsp of yeast n in brackets u typed 2 1/4 tsp which is the right amount .thk u

Chef John said...

1/4 tsp!

Aysha Dok said...

Thx chef john they came out nice accept i knw the crust on top came out crispy why did my bread base b hard .plz advice

Paul D said...

My wife executed this perfectly! After tasting the bread, my wife looked at me and said "I hope he's getting paid really well for this". I mean...it's perfect...

Mochoyum said...

I don't have any corn meal, is there an alternative? Or can I leave that step out entirely?? Thanks!

Angela said...

I have tried many recipes for baguette and this is the easiest. Thank you

Joe said...

Those struggling with oven temps and the crust not browning could try two things. Spray only onto bread, since water drops the temp of the oven significantly. And work fast, closing the oven as soon as you can.

Perry Whisman said...

HOLY CRAP I did it .......

Turned out perfect, no more panera for us

just sayin

La abeja Carmina said...

I made it twice, came out tasting pretty good. Great recipe. But why don't I get that smell of baked bread? Is it because of the type of yeast? I thought the whole house would smell heavenly after baking the bread, but nope... Any suggestions?
Thank you very much.
Carmen

Chef John said...

Sorry, no idea! You have goog ventilation!

marisa sasaki-shah said...

Chef, this is BY FAR, the best bread recipe ever!!! Thanks so much for sharing this recipe. I thought I would have to go back to PARIS, just to taste it again!!
Marisa

Durand said...

Brilliant recipe! Aside from forgetting to cut them before baking, I think they turned out great. I did have to double the amount of instant yeast and use a bit over two cups of water.

https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-v602ZWPrT0M/Uu0tSdnQwJI/AAAAAAAAH7s/MwSG1ESXuq8/s0-I/DSC_7814.jpg

Chef John said...

Looks great! Thanks!

Max311 said...

Fabulous recipe. Easiest bread recipe I have done. Instead of misting with water I just throw a 1/2 cup of water in the bottom of the oven at start, 5 & 10 minutes in.

Max311 said...

Fabulous recipe. The easiest bread recipe I have tried. Instead of misting I throw 1/2 cup of water in the bottom of the oven. Turned out perfect like the baguettes we had in San Francisco!

Nigel Fuller said...

Brilliant video but puzzled.
What is the relationship between yeast, proving time and flavour ?

This recipe requires a half gram of active dry yeast and 12-14 hours proving ..... elsewhere another requires 10gms of same yeast and one hour's proving.

Both claim to be "traditional" and flavoursome - how do you explain this range and what is the effect on texture and flavour ?

Little G said...

I need some help! My baguettes looked great but they were pretty raw on the inside. My oven would only go up to 515. here are my questions: do I put the pan of water inside the oven as I start preheating it or do I preheat to 515 and then put in the pan of water and the bread? Also, does it matter if I use a glass pan for the water or does it have to be cast iron? in the original recipe, they let the dough rise only for 1.5 hours. you do it for 12 hours. why such a difference? Is it crucial to let the shaped baguettes rise for an hour before you put them in the oven? thank you!!!

Nigel Fuller said...

Comment on Max311 mail, about misting :

I put in a large casserole of boiling water at start, which initially filled the oven with steam - then sprayed at 5 min intervals as suggested - but result was not as crisp as shown.
Wonder if my cooler oven was to blame ?
Though it browned nicely in 15 mins, the temperature never topped 350 degrees.

Chef John said...

Little G, I put the water in before I preheat. BUT, if your bread is "pretty raw on the inside" then that's simply under-cooking. Cook them longer!

Tatyana Avakimova said...

Thank you for this blog!!!!!
I am making ciabatta using your recipe for a year and decide to check your web page.... OMG!!!
Last week I made French banquet twice! Then lasagna and today caramel apple tart:)
I check your recipes every day, pick what I want and make it.
Your blog inspires me:)
Thank you!

Chef John said...

Thank you!

Little G said...

Hi, I have a question about measurements, specifically for the flower. 18 oz is approximately 500 grams, but according to my measuring cup it is not about 4 cups, it's actually about 2.5 cups. Can you please provide the exact amount of flower (in cups) that you are supposed to use with 1.5 cups of water and 1/4 tsp of yeast. If I follow your proportions in grams as described in your recipe, I end up with dough that is way too runny, it doesn't look like your in your video. For yours, did you put 4 cups of flower or 500 grams? thank you!

Little G said...

Hi, I have a question about measurements, specifically for the flower. 18 oz is approximately 500 grams, but according to my measuring cup it is not about 4 cups, it's actually about 2.5 cups. Can you please provide the exact amount of flower (in cups) that you are supposed to use with 1.5 cups of water and 1/4 tsp of yeast. If I follow your proportions in grams as described in your recipe, I end up with dough that is way too runny, it doesn't look like your in your video. For yours, did you put 4 cups of flower or 500 grams? thank you!

Chef John said...

4 cups is about 500 grams! You're confusing weight and volume. A cup is 8 fluid oz, but weight varies with ingredient. So a "cup" does NOT have a weight... A cup of lead weighs more than a cup of flour. A cup of properly measured flour is about 4.5 oz or about 120 grams each. Yes, the dough is very wet, but you work more flour in as needed!

Little G said...

aha! you're absolutely right, but I've never seen any metrics measurements in american recipes so it freaked me out, especially since you say in the video that you insist we measure everything by weight :) I'm guessing you've kept those measurements since you were convening a european recipe. well, I'm gonna go with cups since I don't have a kitchen scale. So 1.5 cups of water and 4 cups of flower. I'll make it 3.5 and then I'll see if mine looks like yours in the video, if not I'll make it 4. The other bread that I make with this dough (in the dutch oven) is just a plain loaf and it takes 3 cups of flower. Turns out awesome each time. Thank you for the recipe and for you blog! I'm also making your jerk chicken wings today :)

Dani Stinson said...

Can I use self rising flour!!!!????!?!??!! I ran out of all purpose

Chef John said...

no!!

Angie said...

OK, I tried it for the first time the day before yesterday and yesterday I made it again and today I made 2 loaves again, BEST BREAD RECIPE EVER!! I have suggested it to all of my friends! Thank you!

Kristoffer Young said...

chef john, why is my dough too dry? even if i followed all ingredients verbatim. its not actually dry,dry. But it is not sticky anymore. I can even hold it in my hands without it sticking on me. tried it twice, got the same result. why is that? thanks!

Kristoffer Young said...

chef john, why is my dough too dry compared to yours? i followed the ingredients as written in the recipe. but mine was way too dry. i can even touch it with my hands without it sticking on me. tried it twice. what could i have done wrong?

Chef John said...

If it's that dry, you have to be measuring or weighing wrong! Or you need to not add all the flour. Just add until your dough looks like mine!

Marcelo Hudson said...

Hi chef and friends, I tried to make this baguette some times exactly as described, but the bread crust become too stiff, very hard to chew. Do you have an idea what is going on?
I don´t know if it is the quality of all-purpose flour I use here in Brazil or if it is a issue of temperature.
My oven does not reach 550º F, but, as described in manual, reach 500º (I have doubt about that). It is needed more than 30 min for crust start to brown, and that beautiful color come with more time. By this time I feel the bread is overbaked, the baguette start to bend!

If you have a hint, preferably keeping my oven, to solve this problem I will be very gratefull.

thks

Chef John said...

Sounds like you are cooking too long waiting for a browned crust! Try less time.

Annabelle Lee said...

I've destroyed one of my kitchen mitten because of this, but it was well worth it. My bread loaves weren't as high but more flat as quarter sized than half sized baguettes.