Real French Baguette

Author: Marthinus Strydom
Category: Bread
Serves/Qty: 6
Marthinus Strydom

It is very difficult to make a real traditional french baguette. You need special flour and a special bakers oven. I have tried and tried and eventually succeeded in replicating a real traditional french baguette at home

The Story

Baguette is a classic French loaf of bread that is characterized by its long, thin shape and crispy crust. French baguette is a lean dough, meaning there is no fat present in the dough, which creates a chewy texture inside of the loaf. The word baguette in French means baton or stick, and therefore is sometimes referred to as “French stick bread.”

The process of making an authentic French baguette recipe takes a little time and some understanding of bread technique. However, the best way to perfect the baguette craft is to practice. Making this simple rustic bread is extremely rewarding.

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Ingredients
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Ingredients
500 g strong white flour
10 g salt
300 ml water (tepid)
5 g dried yeast
pre fermented dough
Pre-fermented Dough
450 g strong white flour
7 g salt
290 ml water (tepid)
2½ g dried yeast

Method

Day 1

  • Combine the flour and salt together in a clean bowl.
  • Add the yeast into the tepid water and stir together to help the yeast dissolve.
  • Pour the yeasted water into the flour.
  • Combine all the ingredients to form a rough dough.
  • Rest the dough for 10 minutes.
  • Turn the dough out onto a clean work surface and knead for 3 to 4 minutes.
  • Do not worry if your dough is slightly sticky or wet. Resist the temptation to add any extra flour. This dough is kneaded less than our usual doughs all we are looking for is the dough to roughly come together.
  • Place the dough into an lightly oiled bowl. Cover with cling film and place into the fridge for 12-24 hours. (set your timer)

Day 2

  • The next day, remove the pre-fermented dough from the fridge.
  • In a large clean bowl combine the strong white flour and salt.
  • Put the yeast into the water and stir together to help the yeast dissolve.
  • Pour the yeasted water into the flour.
  • Break the pre-fermented dough into smaller pieces and add it to the flour and water mix.
  • Breaking the dough into small pieces will make it easier to incorporate into the other ingredients once you begin to knead.
  • Start working all the ingredients together to form a rough dough.
  • Turn the dough out onto a clean work surface and knead the dough until the window pane affect has been achieved. This may take 10 – 15 minutes.
  • As you knead the dough you may find it to be a little wet and sticky, don’t worry, it is meant to be. Resist the temptation to add any extra flour, the dough will come together.
  • Once the window pane affect has been achieved place the dough into a large clean bowl that has been oiled. Cover with cling film and place the dough into the fridge for 18-24 hours. (set your timer)
  • If time is against you, this dough, once kneaded, can be left to proof and ferment at room temperature for 2 hours before knocking back and shaping. However, it is my recommendation to ferment the dough overnight in the fridge as this will help to produce a more complex flavour within the final bread. The dough will sit comfortably in the fridge for anywhere between 12 to 24 hours.
  • Do not leave longer than 24 hours as it will over proof.

Day 3

  • Remove the dough from the fridge and turn out onto a clean work surface then knock back.
  • Divide the dough into even portions approximately 250g each. This will make a small baguette. For longer baguettes you can use more dough.
  • Shape each portion of dough into a ball and allow the dough to rest on the work surface for 5 minutes.
  • This period of resting allows the gluten within the dough to relax which will help when it comes to the final shaping of the dough. Instead of trying to roll a baguette from start to finish in one go we do it in series of stages letting the dough rest and relax between each stage.
  • Working with one portion of dough at a time begin to form a baguette. Flatten out the dough evenly into a rough rectangle.
  • Taking the edge closest to you, fold the dough over about an inch then crimp the edges together as you roll.
  • Fold the dough over again, and again, crimping the seams together.
  • Repeat one more time so that the dough resembles a sausage about 15cm in length.
  • Place the dough to one side leaving it to rest while you start to shape the next portion of dough. By the time each portion of dough has been pre-shaped, the first portion of dough is ready to undergo its final shaping.
  • Using the palms of your hands, start in the middle and roll the dough out, moving from the middle to outside as you roll. Roll the dough out to about 30 – 35cm in length.
  • Traditionally, baguettes are shaped and placed to proof in a material called couche which in French means “sleep” as the baguettes will be going to sleep. Couche is a toughened linen which is used to support the baguettes as they proof in a similar way to a proofing basket. If you don’t have couche, a well-floured clean tea towel will work fine.
  • Arrange the baguettes seamed side up and side by side using the tea towel as a barrier between each. Leave the baguettes to prove for about 50 to 60 minutes.
  • Preheat the oven to 240°C fan assisted or its highest setting if your oven does not go that high. Place a baking tray into the base of the oven.
  • The dough is ready to bake when pushed lightly with your finger and it quickly springs back.
  • Gently roll each baguette out of the tea towel and lift on to a baking tray, placing the baguettes seam side down.
    Score the baguette with 4 lines at a very slight diagonal along the length of the dough, the scores should overlap slightly.
  • Place the baguettes into the preheated oven and pour boiling water in the baking tray in the base of the oven to create a burst of steam. Bake for 20-25 minutes.

baguette bread baking