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

207 comments:

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Unknown said...

Hi chef :)
Just now first proofing on the way, I'm so interested on the outcome... let's see tomorrow:) doing all by your recipe. Excited! Will write the result!

Unknown said...

Hi chef :)
Just now first proofing on the way, I'm so interested on the outcome... let's see tomorrow:) doing all by your recipe. Excited! Will write the result!

Unknown said...

I find a lot of people daunted by the idea of making bread at home, and notice that when I show them the process in a laid back manner, they feel less intimidated. I like your nonchalant attitude in the video, it seems to put people at ease for the task of bread making. This video is going to help me convert a lot of people and reinforce that you don't have to stress about bread, thanks!

Anoylla said...

I changed :)
I put fine semolina, rye flour, oat flour and wheat flour in equal parts. I doubled the dry yeast. With liquids, I replaced half the water with pure virgin olive oil.
We ate and cried!

Pignic said...

For people who are struggling with the grams/cups conversion, here is a rule of thumb for you:
1:place your measuring cups in front of you
2:find the nearest garbage
3:place the cups in it
4:go buy a scale

Unknown said...

Can you use a kitchen aid mixer instead of doing it by hand?

Unknown said...

Chef John, I own the Red star brand of dry active yeast. For the 12-14 hour long proof method, do I use 1/4 teaspoons of yeast? If I want to make it sooner, them I imagine I can use 2 1/4 teaspoons of active dry yeast?

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