I am on the hunt for the perfect baguette recipe. I live in New Orleans so really good french bread is everywhere… but I want it to be in my oven too. The perfect french bread is chewy on the inside with a medium-large crumb and a perfectly crispy, crackly crust. Good french bread (or po’ boy bread) is pretty expensive at the grocery store so I’m quite determined to make it myself.
The first promising recipe that I cam across was this one from the King Arthur Flour website (there are even more detailed instructions and more photos on their blog, Baking Banter). The bread was excellent but only half way towards what I want to achieve. Using a starter that fermented over night gave the bread INCREDIBLE flavor. The crumb was a good size and the inside was wonderfully chewy but the crust was still lacking. I did make a few changes, notably replacing one cup of bread flour for whole wheat and reducing rising times and repetitions. I know this could have seriously impacted my results so I do plan on making this again and following the instructions to a T.
For that reason, the instructions below are EXACTLY as they appear on the King Arthur website. The price break down includes my use of bread flour and whole wheat. If you do plan try this out, I suggest giving their instructions and pictures a scroll through as well (links in paragraph above).
This recipe literally takes a day and a half so plan it for a day that you’ll be home taking care of other business (you’ll start it the night before). Despite being a “needy” recipe, it was still enjoyable and I plan to try it again!
King Arthur Baguettes
King Arthur Baguettes
This classic baguette recipe comes from the folks over at King Arthur Flour.
- 1/2 cup cool water $0.00
- 1/16 tsp yeast $0.01
- 1 cup bread flour $0.14
- 1 tsp yeast $0.09
- 1 1/4 cup water $0.00
- 1 cup whole wheat flour $0.16
- 2 1/2 cups bread flour $0.37
- 1 1/2 tsp salt $0.05
The night before, prepare the starter. Dissolve 1/16th tsp of yeast in 1/2 cup cool water. Stir in 1 cup of bread flour until it forms a ball. Loosely cover and let sit at room temperature over night (12-16 hrs).
The next day the starter will no longer be a ball but a large bubbly mass. In a separate bowl, combine 1 tsp of yeast with 1.25 cups of warm water and stir to dissolve the yeast. Combine the starter with the new yeast water and stir to dissolve as best as possible. There may still be a few chunks of the gooey starter but this will be kneaded in.
Add one cup of bread flour (or whole wheat if you are using it) and the salt to the yeast water/starter mix. Stir it in until combined. Begin adding more bread flour, 1/2 cup at a time until it is a ball that you can no longer stir with a spoon.
Turn the ball of dough out onto a floured surface and knead in the rest of the flour (until you have reached 3 to 3.5 cups total). Only add flour and knead until it is a soft, elastic, slightly tacky ball. You do not want to add too much flour or knead too much or else the dough will become stiff. The dough should be very soft and pliable (this part takes practice).
Form the dough into a ball and place in an oiled bowl. Loosely cover and let rise for one hour. Punch the dough down, reshape into a ball and let rise again. Do this for a total of three rises (three hours).
Punch the dough down a third time and turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Cut the dough into 3 equal sized piece and let it rest for 15 minutes. Gently pat down each piece into a long oval. Roll the oval into a long baguette.
Place the shaped baguettes onto a baking sheet coated with non-stick spray and/or lightly sprinkled with cornmeal. Let the baguettes rise for 1 – 1.5 hours. Using a sharp knife slit the tops in a long, diagonal fashion. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
Spray the baguettes with water (or lightly brush with a soft brush) and bake at 450 for 20-30 minutes or until the crust is deep golden brown. Remove the baguettes from the oven and let cool on a wire rack.
Step By Step Photos
The night before combine the ingredients for the starter until they form a ball (dissolve the yeast in water first).
12-16 hours later the starter will be this big, fluffy, bubbly mass.
Dissolve the yeast for the dough in water then add the mass of starter dough.
Dissolve the starter in the yeast water as best you can. There may still be some chunks but that’s okay, it will be kneaded in.
Stir in one cup of flour and the salt first. If you’re using some whole wheat, stir it in now before adding the rest of the flour.
Continue adding more flour (bread flour) 1/2 cup at a time until it forms a ball that can no longer be stirred with a spoon. Turn it out onto a floured surface.
Knead in the rest of the bread flour (3 to 3.5 cups total flour) or until it forms a soft, pliable, slightly tacky dough. Shape it into a ball and place in an oiled dish to rise (loosely covered). Let it rise for an hour then punch down. Repeat with two more rises.
After three rises the dough will be light and full of large bubbles. Turn it out onto a very lightly floured surface. Cut it into three equal sized pieces.
Gently shape each piece into a long oval.
Gently roll the oval in on itself until you have a long baguette.
Roll the baguette back and forth on the counter top until it is elongated to about 16 inches.
Place the shaped baguettes, seam side down, on a baking sheet coated with non-stick spray or cornmeal. Let them rise for 1 to 1.5 hours.
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Using a sharp knife, carefully slash the top of the baguettes. The dough will be extremely delicate and fluffy so be careful not to deflate it while slashing. Spritz the top of the baguettes with water and bake for 20-30 minutes or until they are deep golden brown.
Let the baguettes cool on a wire rack.