Here is my favorite French baguettes recipe. It’s a very easy recipe you can do at home with just four ingredients: flour, water, salt, and active dry yeast. There is nothing like a freshly baked French baguette on a Sunday morning. Crusty and beautifully colored on the outside, buttery soft and chewy on the inside, with a tiny bit of butter or with French jam – it’s one of my favorite breakfast foods.
French baguettes are not difficult to bake, but there are many factors that can affect how your baguettes will look and taste. Factors like the temperature of your kitchen, the freshness of your yeast, humidity, and water temperature can all affect the proofing time of your bread dough. In a toasty kitchen, your dough may rise in as little as an hour or less. When the temperatures dip, it can take much longer—upwards of 2 or even 3 hours. That is why, using the same ingredients, different bakers, using the same ingredients, can make baguettes that differ from each other.
Did you know there are two types of baguettes in France? The baguette Classique or ordinaire is white inside with a crisp crust and is leavened with yeast. This is often the cheapest one and they are sometimes made with additives, gluten, ascorbic acid, and other preservatives. In France, most good bakeries put their energy toward the most artisanal baguette: the baguette tradition. By a law enacted in 1993, a baguette tradition can only contain four ingredients: flour, leavening, water, and salt. There are usually hand-formed and baked on the premises, and usually have levain (sourdough) starter in them. So, next time you’re visiting France make sure to order a baguette tradition at your local bakery.
How To Make French Baguettes
While it’s a challenge to make traditional baguettes at home, this recipe below is one the easiest French baguettes recipe that I know. Indeed, with this recipe, you just need 2 minutes to prepare the dough, 1 to 2 hours to rise the dough in a warm place until doubled in bulk, and around 20 minutes to bake in the oven. Don’t expect perfection the first time out, but the more you practice your baguette-baking techniques, the better the baguette you’ll make.
Total time needed: 1h25 minutes
For 2 French baguettes or 4 thin French baguettes, you will need:
- 375g or 13.22 ounces bread flour (T55 or unbleached bread flour)
- 3g or 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 5g or 1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast*
- 300ml or 10 fl oz of water
- Additional flour for dusting
*You can use fresh yeast instead of active dry yeast in this recipe. In general, the weight of the fresh yeast is twice the weight of the active dry yeast. In this recipe, it’s either 5g of active dry yeast or 10g of fresh yeast.
- In a large bowl mix well the flour and the salt together. Then, add the active dry yeast and mix well again.
- Add the water, a little at a time, while stirring with a spatula or a silicone spoon, just until a sticky dough has formed.
- Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow the dough to rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk (about 1 to 2 hours). You can use your oven, especially if you cook the French baguettes in winter. Just heat your over to 35°C or 95°F and allow the dough to rise in it.
- Preheat the oven to 250°C | 480°F, and place a pan of water on the bottom rack.
- Generously flour your baguette pans and pour 1/4 of the dough into each slot. If you do not have a baguette pan, just take a large baking sheet covered with baking paper or silicone oven sheet. Divide the dough into 4 equal portions and shape each one into a long loaf (about 15-inches long and 1 1/2-inches in diameter) with the silicone spatula. Try to shape the 4 long loafs the best you can as the dough is very sticky. At this stage, do not worry if the shapes of your baguettes are not perfect.
- Sprinkle the baguettes with flour or with poppy seeds or sesame seeds, and make 4 elongated slashes down each one with a lame, or sharp knife.
- Bake the baguettes around 20 to 25 minutes, until crusty and brown. It depends on the ovens so make sure to keep a close eye on the baking. The baguettes should give a hollow sound when tapped.
- Bon appétit 🙂
Next time I’ll bake French baguettes, I’ll take pictures to illustrate each step of the recipe. If you followed this recipe I would love to hear your thoughts. Please add your comments below.
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Bonjour and welcome to Leonce Chenal! The French online magazine written by a French woman that aims to help you live your French life, wherever you are. I’m Leonce, I'm French and I'm a Parisian expat currently living in the city center of Amsterdam. I created Leonce Chenal back in 2018 when I was living in London and missing my home country way too much. What started as an online space to share my favorite skincare products has since evolved into a destination for French fashion, interiors, and beauty. If you have any question or if you just want to say bonjour, you can contact me at email@example.com <3