Authentic Crusty French Baguettes Recipe

Most French bread recipes you find on the Internet use a lot of oil and sugar. While this does make tasty bread, it won’t make an authentic French baguette. The recipe below uses flour, salt, water and yeast. Those are the only four ingredients you will need to make delicious baguettes.

Poolish (Starter)

  • 75 teaspoons of active dry yeast
  • 5 cups of cold water
  • 5 cups of all-purpose or bread flour

Dough

  • The Poolish
  • 5 cups of all-purpose or bread flour
  • 2 teaspoons of salt (preferably kosher)
  • 75 cups of cold water
  • 5 teaspoons of active dry yeast

The first step to making quality French bread is making a starter, otherwise known as a poolish.

It’s best to do this the night before, and let it do its magic overnight. However, if you didn’t remember to make the starter the night before, you can start it in the morning and still have a good loaf of French bread by Dinner.

Process

Start by mixing 0.75 teaspoons of yeast with 1.5 cups of cold water. Leave it for about 5 minutes or so, just until it dissolves. Then put 1.5 cups of white or bread flour into a medium sized bowl and pour the yeast water mixture in.

With a wooden spoon, mix your starter in one direction. Right now you want to be creating long strands, so just mix it 20 or 30 times. At this point, don’t worry about clumps. After you have the water nice and mixed in to the flour, cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave it for at least 6 hours. When you come back to the bowl it should look alive and bubbling.

Now that your starter is ready, you can make the dough. Take 0.75 cups of cold water and mix it with 1.5 teaspoons of yeast and leave it for five minutes or so, just until it dissolves and starting foaming a little.

Then mix 2.5 cups of white or bread flour with 2 teaspoons of salt (I prefer kosher, but table salt is fine) in a medium bowl. Now, add your water yeast mixture into the starter (poolish) and mix with a wooden spoon to combine. Then add your salt and flour mixture in 4 equal amounts, mixing with a wooden spoon in between.

This recipe is easy to use and makes authentic French baguettes in less than 30 minutes.

Once it gets too hard to mix with the spoon, start kneading by hand, incorporating a little flour if the dough sticks to your hands or your kneading surface. Knead the dough for about five minutes or so.

Now put your dough in a lightly oiled bowl and let it rise for about thirty minutes. After thirty minutes is up, pick up your dough and stretch it out. Pull it carefully a little bit, then dump it back into the bowl and cover for another thirty minutes. This is called the long knead. You’ll want to do the long knead two more times, with thirty minutes of rising in between.

Next, cut the dough in half, and form into rough sausage shapes. Let it rise for another thirty minutes. Then you can shape your dough into baguettes by stretching the dough out into rectangles, and then rolling them up and carefully sealing the seams. Now let your formed baguettes rise for about half an hour or so.

Preheat your oven to 500 degrees. Take an egg, mix with a little water, and then brush the tops of your baguettes. Now, you want to make sure your oven is steamy enough to form that nice crust. So, take some boiling water, put about an inch of it into a deep baking pan, and place it on the bottom rack of your oven.

After about five minutes you should have enough steam to bake your bread. So, place them in the oven above the water pan. You want to bake them for about 20 minutes, or until golden brown. After about 10 minutes, I like to spray the baguettes with water to insure a great crispy crust. Once they’re finished, take them out of the oven and let them cool on a wire rack for about fifteen minutes.

Cut the bread and serve with soft butter. Enjoy!

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