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Updated November 14, 2014
tablespoon active dry yeast
cup unbleached all-purpose flour
In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine water, yeast and salt.
Pour in flour all at once and mix using dough hook until just combined (no kneading is necessary).
Pour dough into a lightly greased bowl, cover and let rise about 2 hours or until doubled in size.
Refrigerate covered, risen dough overnight.
The next day, remove dough from the fridge and, with lightly floured hands and a lightly floured surface, begin to shape the dough into a ball until malleable. Then, stretch the dough into a baguette shape about 2 inches thick. Allow to rest on a baking stone or parchment paper-lined baking sheet for 20 minutes.
In the meantime, preheat the oven to 450°F. Place a broiler tray on a rack underneath where the baking stone or sheet will go.
Brush the surface of the rested dough with water and, using a serrated knife, make diagonal slashes along the top of the dough. When the oven is ready, place the baking stone or sheet that the loaf is on in the oven and quickly pour a cup of hot tap water into the broiler tray. Close the oven door quickly.
Bake the baguette for about 25 minutes or until a deep, golden brown. Allow to cool on a wire rack.
- 1 package dry yeast (about 2 1/4 teaspoons)
- 1 ¼ cups warm water (100° to 110°)
- 3 cups bread flour, divided (about 14 1/4 ounces)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Cooking spray
- 1 teaspoon cornmeal
Dissolve yeast in warm water in a large bowl let stand 5 minutes. Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups level with a knife. Add 2 3/4 cups flour to yeast mixture stir until a soft dough forms. Cover and let stand 15 minutes. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface sprinkle evenly with salt. Knead until the salt is incorporated and the dough is smooth and elastic (about 6 minutes) add enough of remaining flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, to prevent dough from sticking to hands (dough will feel slightly sticky).
Place dough in large bowl coated with cooking spray, turning to coat top. Cover and let rise in warm place (85°), 40 minutes or until doubled in size. (Gently press two fingers into dough. If an indentation remains, the dough has risen enough.) Punch dough down cover and let rest 5 minutes. Divide in half. Working with 1 portion at a time (cover remaining dough to prevent drying), roll each portion on a floured surface into 12-inch rope, slightly tapered at ends. Place ropes on large baking sheet sprinkled with cornmeal. Lightly coat dough with cooking spray, and cover let rise 20 minutes or until doubled in size.
Uncover the dough. Cut 3 (1/4-inch-deep) diagonal slits across top of each loaf. Bake at 450° for 20 minutes or until browned on bottom and sounds hollow when tapped.
1. Feta Spinach Stuffed French Bread
Spinach dip often makes the appetizer menu at many restaurants and its quite often a crowd favorite. But what if you could make said amazing spinach dip all in the well of a fresh loaf of french bread? This delicious recipe takes on the spirit of spinach dip but enhances it ever so slightly.
You can make this recipe with whatever sized french bread you can get your hands on. The bread boat might be the talk of the party but the feta spinach filling will steal the show. It is made up of cream cheese, sour cream, mayo, mozzarella cheese, feta cheese and chopped frozen spinach. This is a serious cheese-lovers dream.
Crisp and light, with a crackly brown crust, these baguettes are super-easy to make.
- 1 1/4 cups (283g) lukewarm water
- 2 cups (482g) sourdough starter, ripe (fed) or discard (see "tips," below)
- 4 1/2 to 5 cups (539g to 602g) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
- 2 1/2 teaspoons (15g) salt
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 1 to 2 teaspoons instant yeast, depending on the vigor of your fed starter*
- 4 teaspoons vital wheat gluten
In a large bowl, combine the water, starter, and 3 cups (360g) of the flour, mixing until smooth.
Stir in the salt, sugar, yeast, and gluten, then an additional 1 1/2 to 2 cups (180g to 240g) of flour. Stir until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl, adding only enough additional flour as necessary a slack (sticky) dough makes a light loaf.
Knead the dough for about 7 minutes in a stand mixer or 8 to 10 minutes by hand, on a lightly greased work surface. You may also knead this dough using the dough cycle on your bread machine once it's finished kneading, transfer it to a bowl to rise, as directed below.
Turn the dough into an oiled bowl, cover the bowl, and let the dough rise until doubled in bulk, about 90 minutes.
Perfect your technique
Ultimate Sourdough Baguettes: NOT for the birds.
Gently deflate the dough, and divide it into six pieces (for thin baguettes) or three pieces (for thicker Italian loaves).
Shape each piece into a 16" long loaf, and place the loaves, at least 4" apart, on parchment-lined baking sheets, or in lightly greased baguette pans (French loaf pans). If you're using baguette pans, make the loaves 15" long.
Cover the loaves with lightly greased plastic wrap, and let them rise for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, or until they're nice and puffy. Towards the end of the rising time, preheat your oven to 450°F.
For a classic look, make three diagonal slashes in each loaf, cutting about 1/4" deep. For taller, rounder baguettes, don't slash.
Bake the baguettes for about 25 minutes, or until they're a rich golden brown. If you baked in baguette pans, remove the loaves from the oven and unmold. Turn off the oven, return the loaves (without the pan) to the oven, and crack the oven door open a few inches. If you baked on a parchment-lined baking sheet, simply turn off the oven and crack the oven door open a few inches. Letting the loaves cool right in the turned-off oven helps preserve their crunchy crust.
Remove the baguettes from the oven, and cool them completely on a rack. Store any leftovers in a paper bag for a day or so paper will preserve their crunchy crust better than plastic. Freeze for longer storage.
Tips from our Bakers
Don’t have any starter? Here’s a recipe for homemade sourdough starter. If you're making it from scratch, you'll need to feed it for 5 to 7 days before it’s ready for baking. Want a head start? Purchase our classic fresh sourdough starter – it’ll be ready for baking soon after it arrives at your door. Looking for tips, techniques, and all kinds of great information about sourdough baking? Find what you need in our sourdough baking guide.
Working with 1 portion of dough at a time, keeping remaining dough covered, fold dough in half lengthwise to form a tight, narrow log. Gently press edges with lightly floured fingertips to seal.
Using your palms, roll the dough on a lightly floured work surface until it's about 16 inches long, rolling more firmly at the ends to create a tapered effect.
Place loaves, seam side down, on a generously floured linen towel or a parchment-lined baking sheet. Fold towel between the loaves to prevent sticking. Cover loosely with oiled plastic wrap, and let rise at cool room temperature until loaves have almost doubled and a floured finger pressed into side leaves a slight indentation, 40 to 50 minutes.
Place a skillet on oven rack adjusted to lowest position and a baking stone on middle oven rack. Preheat oven to 500 degrees. If using a linen towel, gently turn baguettes onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. Before baking, use a lame or razor blade to make 3 slashes on top of each baguette. Pour 1/2 cup hot water into skillet in oven. Slide bread and parchment onto baking stone.
Immediately reduce oven to 450 degrees. Bake until baguettes are deep golden brown, sound hollow when bottoms are thumped, and interiors register 205 degrees on an instant-read thermometer, 25 to 30 minutes. Let cool on wire racks. Baguettes are best the day you make them, but they can be wrapped in parchment and then foil, and stored at room temperature overnight (or frozen for up to 1 month thaw at room temperature before serving.)
Homemade French Baguettes
This recipe for Homemade French Baguettes requires a few steps to get the perfect pockets of air in the bread but nothing beats homemade bread and the way it makes your house smell. By following these step-by-step directions, you can successfully make great baguettes at home.
The one thing you must do if you want to make homemade French baguettes is plan ahead. While there are only a few ingredients and they are not hard to make, there is a lot of down time waiting for the dough to rise in different stages. Just start a full day ahead of when you’d like to eat the baguettes and enjoy the process. Start by making a poolish. A poolish is what we call a pre-ferment – a starter dough that is made ahead of time and it is key to giving your bread great flavor. Other examples of a pre-fermented doughs are sourdough, levain or biga. The nice thing about using a poolish as a starter for baguettes is that it is made once, takes just 12 hours and is used in its entirety when you make the baguette dough – you don’t have to keep and feed it like you do with a sourdough starter. It’s as simple as stirring three ingredients together – flour, water and yeast.
After 12 to 18 hours at room temperature, your poolish will look like the image below – slightly increased in volume and bubbly.
Add water to the poolish to loosen it and then add the flour, more yeast and some salt. The dough will be relatively wet, but the good news is that you don’t really have to knead baguette dough. We want there to be nice airy bubbles in our baguettes and by simply stretching and folding the dough over on itself is enough to engage the elastic quality of the gluten and then you just have to let the yeast do its job of reproducing and flavoring the dough.
Once your dough has gone through a couple of rises, start to shape the dough into roughly the right shape – a rectangle. Portion the dough into 3 or 4 pieces and flatten them into rectangles. Then, with the long side of the rectangle facing you, fold the dough into a third of its width as you would fold a letter – fold the top third of the rectangle down and fold the bottom third of the rectangle up. It should now look roughly like a log. Let it rest and rise again.
You’ll do this one more time before gently rolling the logs out into a baguette length. It should now rise one last time in a baguette pan or on a baker’s couche – a durable French linen cloth used to keep the doughs rising upwards instead of sideways.
Now it’s time to bake the homemade French baguettes. The key to the crust of a baguette is steam. Professional bakers use stem ovens to get the best crust, but you can create a similar environment at home. Pre-heat your oven with a cast iron pan in the bottom of the oven for at least 30 minutes. Boil the kettle and when you’re ready, put the baguettes into the oven and pour boiling water into the cast iron pan. Use long oven mitts to do this and be aware that there will be a lot of steam. Close the oven door as soon as you can and let the baguettes cook in the steamy environment for just 15 to 20 minutes. It’s the steam that will create that nice crispy crust on the outside of the baguette.
The three baguettes above have a different appearance because two of them were dusted with flour before being transferred to the oven. If you like that rustic look, a simple quick dust with flour is all you need.
So you can see it is a long-is process (lots of unattended time), but there are a couple of ways you can shorten the path to freshly baked bread. You could make the dough, let it rise twice, portion it into 3 or 4 and then freeze the dough for another time. Freeze each portion in an air-tight bag and then defrost the dough on the counter and pick up the recipe where you left off once it has fully thawed. I find it even more convenient to freeze freshly baked baguette as soon as they’ve cooled down. Then, it’s a quick re-heat in the oven at 400ºF for 8 minutes or so and you’re set to go with a fresh loaf. Just grab a bread knife!
Recipe Step-by-Step Quick Notes:
- Make poolish and let sit, covered, room temperature for 12 to 18 hours
- Add water to poolish, then flour, yeast and salt. Mix together, turning the dough over on itself several times.
- Rest 10 minutes.
- Stretch and fold the dough and put in an oiled bowl, covered with a lid or plastic wrap.
- Rest 45 minutes
- Stretch and fold the dough. Return to the oiled bowl, covered with a lid or plastic wrap.
- Rest 45 minutes.
- Divide the dough into 3 or 4 portions. Flatten each portion, fold and shape each into a log. Cover.
- Rest 30 minutes.
- Fold and shape each log into a baguette. Rest either on a baguette pan or baker’s couche, covered.
- Pre-heat the oven to 475ºF with an empty cast iron pan inside for at least 30 minutes while baguettes are resting.
- Bring water to a boil on stovetop.
- Score the baguettes. Send to the oven. Pour boiling water into cast iron pan.
- Bake at 475ºF, 20 – 25 minutes.
Homemade French Baguettes
- Prep Time: 35 m
- Cook Time: 25 m
- Resting Time: 2 h
- Total Time: 3 h
- 1¼ cups water
- 3½ cups all-purpose flour
- 1½ teaspoon active dry yeast
- 2 teaspoons salt
Start about 24 hours before you want to enjoy your freshly baked baguettes. Make the poolish by combining 1 cup of flour with ½ cup of water and ⅛ teaspoon of active dry yeast. Stir the ingredients together in a bowl and cover with a lid or plastic wrap. Let the polish sit at room temperature or in a slightly warm area for 12 to 18 hours.
After 12 to 18 hours, the poolish will have grown in volume slightly, have lots of bubbles on the top and be very wet. Add 1¼ cups of water to the poolish and mix together. Then, stir in the flour, yeast and salt. Combine well until a dough comes together and turn the dough over on itself several times. There is no need to knead the dough. Let the dough sit for 10 minutes.
Stretch the dough and fold it over on itself several times. Transfer the dough to an oiled bowl, cover with a lid or plastic wrap and leave it in a warm-ish place for 45 minutes.
Stretch and fold the dough over on itself several times again, return it to the bowl, cover with a lid or plastic wrap and leave it a warm-ish place for another 45 minutes.
Divide the dough into three or four portions (4 for shorter baguettes and 3 for longer baguettes). Flatten each portion into a rectangle and fold the dough like a letter, folding the top third of the dough down to the center and folding the bottom third of the dough up over the top third. Each portion of dough should now look like a little log.
Flatten and fold each dough log again, sealing the edges down firmly and roll each log into a baguette shape gently. Now you need to let the baguettes rest one last time in their baguette shape. You can let them rest on a lightly floured baguette pan or on a linen couche. Cover with a clean kitchen towel while the baguettes rise.
When you are ready to bake, the baguettes should just slightly hold a fingerprint in the dough when pressed. Slash the baguette with a baker’s lame or very sharp knife and transfer the bread to the oven. If you are using a baguette pan, simply transfer the pan to the oven. If you are using a couche, use a peel to transfer the baguettes to a baking stone or baking steel. As soon as the bread loaves are in the oven, pour the boiling water into the empty cast iron pan in the oven and immediately close the door.
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Baguette Time Table
Mix ingredients until shaggy mass
00:00- 10 minutes rest
00:10 – 2 minutes stretch and fold
45 minute rest
00:57 – 2 letter folds
45 minute rest
01:42 – 1 letter fold
45 minute rest
02:27 – 1 letter fold
45 minute rest
03:12 – 1 letter fold + bench rest
03:22 – divide + pre-shape
03:37 – shape + proof
04:02 – into the oven
04:27 – take out and leave to cool
PS: If you are interested in linen couches / proofing cloths like we use ourselves, you can find them in our WKB webshop.
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