Homemade Baguettes – One of the Finer Things in Life


During my junior year in college, I lived and studied in Bordeaux, France. As a French Literature major, it was really necessary to know what I was talking about – literally. It was an experience of a lifetime.

I rented a small studio apartment, cooked all my own meals, shopped daily in quaint little shops, and enjoyed all the good food that France had to offer. Once of those very fine things was the baguette. It is integral to the French way of life – a beautiful loaf of truly French bread, crisp and crunchy on the outside, light and fluffy on the inside.

Over the past two years as I’ve weaned myself from expensive bakery purchases, I’ve started to do more baking. And learning to make a baguette has proved to be a wonderful thing. The only problem is that it doesn’t last long!

Look! Doesn’t that look beautiful?

The recipe I’ve used is one from What’s Cooking?–A Cookbook for Kids (based on the fantastic film Ratatouille). I’ve adapted the recipe to go into my bread machine since I’m all thumbs when it comes to making dough any other way.

Classic Baguette

1 1/2 cups water
4 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 1/4 teaspoons yeast

Place ingredients in bread pan in the order directed by your machine’s manufacturer. Set bread machine for dough cycle.

Butter a baguette pan. These are perforated bread pans that are specially shaped to give the baguette its characteristic shape.

Don’t let the dough rise too long or it will stick to the top of your machine. Ask me how I know.

Remove dough to a floured surface. Preheat oven to 425F. Divide dough into two equal pieces and shape each piece into a long, snake-like loaf.

Place each snake on half of the baguette pan.

Cover with a clean towel and allow to rise until doubled in bulk, about one hour.

With a sharp knife, cut three slashes diagonally across the top of the loaves.

I saw on Food Network that putting a stone in your oven would regulate heat. I did that this time as well as added a pan of hot water as directed in the recipe. This worked out great in that the crust was superb.

(However, the stone cracked right down the middle and broke in two pieces. I’m not quite sure why that was. So, my recommendation is to not set the pan of hot water on top of your stone. Side by side is good, methinks. I’ve had a report of another stone cracking with the steam pan in the same oven. So, let’s not put the steam pan in an oven with a baking stone. Not sure why this is. Anyone?)

Bake for 20-25 minutes, until golden brown.

This is best enjoyed the day it is baked. Bon appetit!


For more fine things, visit Finer Things Friday.

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Comments

  1. These look wonderful. My family loves bread. I will be trying these out. Thank you so much for the recipe and the great pictures.

  2. betterislittle says:

    looks scrumptuous! I’m jealous of your time in France! Wow! I wonder how this recipe would work using whole wheat flour? Were the French “into” grinding their own wheat and baking with whole grains?

  3. FishMama says:

    15 years ago, the French were not into do-it-yourself. It may have changed since then, but they have such a great respect for the craft of baking, pastries, etc. that very few people do it themselves. You go to the boulangerie (bakery) for your bread to the patisserie for your pastries, etc.

    That said, the bakeries had some wonderful whole wheat breads.

  4. Jennifer Sikora says:

    That just looks delish! I will be making these soon! Thanks for the recipe!

  5. Amy @ Finer Things says:

    Yum! Have never made baguettes. Recipe looks simple enough, but those pans? I’m thinking I would need to become a regular baguette baker before making that investment. ;-)

    Going to try to make some cheese-stuffed breadsticks today…

  6. My husband loves bread like that – crunchy on the outside and chewy on the inside. My children and I like plain brown American bread so there’s more chewy stuff for him!

    Congrats on baking your own!

  7. newlyweds says:

    Oh I love baguettes, this recipe looks really good and easy. Love that.

  8. Those looks scrumptious! :D

  9. I really enjoyed all the great baking posts you had this week. Just wanted to say thanks!

  10. JM - The Princess says:

    Ok…as I am sitting here fighting back the late night munchie cravings now this baguette!!! Yum, I could just picture that right out of the oven with a little pat of butter or tomato and fresh basil.

  11. Would love to try this but I don't own a baguette pan. I'd like to try it before I purchase a special pan; would it work to form the loaves and then bake on a cookie sheet? Your thoughts?

  12. I'm spending some time reading your blogs as they have some great info. I just did a post on my cooking blog about the Eat from you pantry challenge.
    I am in France and so naturally read your posts about France. I just wanted to say, great blogs and for that stone in the oven, well, you're supposed to bake the bread directly on it, not place it at the bottom of the oven. The direct heat on the bottom of the bread gives great oven rise. Place the pan of water neared the bottom, or better yet, for baguettes, heat the pan in the oven and then just before you slide the baguettes in, pour some very hot water in to the pan (about half a small glass). Your baguettes will be beautiful! (Yes, I'm a baguette geek)
    http://www.aulevain.fr

  13. Oh yay!!! I found your baguette recipe!!!! I finally got one of those special baguette pans (it was a gift!) and I immediately came to your site to see if you still had your recipe on here. Bread dough is workin’ in the bread machine now…..can’t wait to try this tonight!

  14. I have a baking stone in my oven. it lives on the very very bottom, on the wire right above the heating element. it’s been there for a couple of years. it really helps out, my oven holds a much more consistent temperature and our baked goods turn out better! I don’t set anything on it though, and I have a regular electric oven, not a convection.

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