My favorite French baguette recipe is the one by the French baker Éric Kayser. It’s a very easy recipe you can do at home with just five ingredients: flour, water, salt, fresh baker’s yeast, and levain starter. 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 many factors 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. Your dough may rise in as little as an hour or less in a toasty kitchen. 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 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. They are usually hand-formed and baked on the premises and have levain (sourdough) starter. So, next time you visit France, order a baguette tradition at your local bakery.
How to Make Traditional French Baguettes
While it’s a challenge to make traditional baguettes at home, this recipe below is one of the easiest French baguette recipes I know. However, this recipe takes some time. Indeed, you need 4 days to make the levain starter you’ll use to bake your baguette. Then, you need 10 minutes to prepare the dough, 4h30 to rise the dough, 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.
The French Baguette Recipe by Éric Kayser
*For the levain starter
- 140 g rye flour
- 100 g wheat flour T65
- 240 g water
- 10 g honey
For the baguette
- 500 g bread flour T55 or unbleached bread flour
- 100 g levain starter*
- 330 g water
- 9 g sea salt
- 4 g fresh baker’s yeast
Éric Kayser's levain starter recipe
- Day 1: Mix 20g of rye flour with 5g of honey and 20g of water. Mix until there should be no flour left in the bottom of the glass. Let rest and cover with a clean kitchen cloth at room temperature for 24 hours.
- Day 2: Add 40g of rye flour, 40g of water, 5g of honey to your preparation. Mix well until there is no residue of flour on the bottom of the glass. Let rest and cover with a clean kitchen cloth at room temperature for 24 hours.
- Day 3: Add 80g of rye flour and 80g of water to your preparation. Mix until there should be no flour left in the bottom of the glass. Let rest and cover with a clean kitchen cloth at room temperature for 24 hours.
- Day 4: Add 100g of wheat flour (Type 65) and 100g of water to your preparation. Here is a levain starter ready to be used.
Éric Kayser's traditional baguette recipe
- Knead the 500g of flour with the 330g of water for a few minutes (about 4 minutes at slow speed). Let it rise at room temperature and under a kitchen towel for about 1 hour.
- Add the 4g of fresh baker's yeast, the 9g of salt, and the 100g of levain starter. Then, knead for 6 to 7 minutes.
- Place the dough on a kitchen towel. Take its temperature, it must be around 23/24°C (73/75°F) to have a good fermentation. Let the dough rise for 1 hour. Then, cut the dough in three, and shape the bread into round loaves. Leave them rest for 30 minutes.
- Put a little bit of flour on your kitchen worktops, just under the round loaf. Press on it but without degassing too much. Stretch the dough a little bit, roll it up and roll it out into a baguette shape. Put it on a kitchen cloth. Fold the kitchen cloth over so the dough does not touch each other and place another dough on top and so on. Let the dough rise for about 2 hours.
- Just before baking the bread, put water in the oven to create water vapor so you can rise the dough longer. Bake the bread for 22/23 min at 250°C/482°F (th.8-9).
Et voilà! I hope you enjoyed this French baguette recipe. If you make this recipe, be sure to leave a comment and/or give this recipe a rating, letting me know how you liked it. Merci beaucoup and bon appétit!
Bonjour! I’m Leonce, a French native and the founding editor of Leonce Chenal, a modern lifestyle platform for lovers of everything French. With my previous experience working for top tech companies in London and Paris, I created this platform in 2018 to offer discerning Francophiles an authentic experience through carefully curated content about French fashion, beauty, and lifestyle. Merci for visiting, and à bientôt!