Bread is Back Bitches! This recipe for the French baguette was given to me by a popular food truck owner here on Whidbey Island. It is simple and quick to make. The key is to use quick rising yeast. This bread is so damn delicious, you will keep the recipe tucked away for special occasions. 

Where Did The French Baguette Originate

The word baguette means “wand”, “stick” or “baton”. The French baguette is distinguished by its long shape and crispy crust texture. Long wide loaves are said to have been around since the times of Louise XIV and long thin loaves came along in the mid-1800’s. This also happened to be about the time steam ovens were invented and helped to give the baguette is characteristic crispiness and lightly fluffy center. In the 1920s the loaves became known as baguettes and thus was born the French baguette.

Place the dough in a greased bowl to rise.

Place dough in a greased bowl to rise.

Who Invented The French Baguette

Some sources claim that the baguette actually was invented by an Austrian named August Zang who also introduced the croissant. So the distinctly French bread roll was actually introduced into France by an Austrian. The bread was originally very long and thin because a law was passed that people could not start work before 4 am. This allowed little time to bake the bread for breakfast. The longer thinner loaves, allowed less cooking time.

Risen baguette dough.

Risen baguette dough.

How Long Does French Baguette Last

It is no secret that fresh is best when it comes to many foods, so if your French baguette does happen to last more than a day then you need proper storage to keep it as fresh as possible. If you store the baguette in an airtight wrapper and if possible in a bread box or airtight container, it may last you up to two or three days. The key to keeping any bread a little fresher is to keep it airtight.

Risen baguette dough, ready to shape.

Risen baguette dough, ready to shape.

How To Eat French Baguette

This seems like a pretty ridiculous question. Put the damn thing in your mouth, chew, and swallow. LOL Seriously though, there are a few things you can do with a baguette that is fun and damn delicious. One great thing to do with baguettes is to use them for submarine sandwiches. You can also enjoy these fresh with some cheese and wine. Another favorite of mine and one that my mom often did is a simple garlic bread. You can slice the bread into about 2 inch thick slices, add garlic and butter, and toast them under the broiler for a few minutes. This is great for bread that is a day or two old. If the bread is starting to get stale, turn it into some homemade stuffing cubes. If you can imagine it, do it!

Cut dough in half and fold.

Cut dough in half and fold.

What To Eat French Baguette With

The French baguette is great by itself but it is often served as a side with other foods. In France, they often enjoy this with their breakfast foods. Mom always made it into a garlic bread and served it with any Italian dish.  Another great item is with any salad. I absolutely love my Caesar salad served with fresh bread.

Fold dough over 1/3.

Fold dough over 1/3.

Can You Freeze French Baguette

Hell yeah, you can freeze a baguette. You can freeze most loaves of bread really, just make sure you freeze it when it is fresh and remove as much air from it as possible. You shouldn’t leave it in the freezer too long though. If ice crystals start forming, it is probably time to use it.

Pressing baguette dough after the fold.

Pressing baguette dough after the fold.

How To Make French Baguette At Home

This recipe belongs to my friend Joe who owns a food truck and pizza company here on the island. He passed this recipe to me as a Christmas gift to share with you. Since then, I have spent a few days working out how to make this in a home kitchen as opposed to a commercial kitchen. First of all, I think it is important to note which type of yeast should be used. The first few times I made this, I followed the instructions which called for cold water and to let rise for 20 to 30 minutes. This seemed strange since I always let the bread rise much longer. Then I realized, he must be using different yeast than I am. So I bought some rapid rising yeast and there you have it, the results were much better. If you don’t have rapid rising yeast, try using warm water instead. Second, I have been working on forming the baguette, with the amount of dough. Should I make four baguettes or two? Two makes for a much wider loaf if you prefer that, but you will need to alter the cooking time for a thicker loaf.

Pressing baguette dough after the fold.

Pressing baguette dough after the fold.

Forming French Baguette

My first couple of attempts to make this recipe resulted in me just rolling the dough into the baguette form. However, I have since then I have re-discovered the power and magic that is Google, and that there is an actual technique to forming the French Baguette. Instead of just rolling it out, I learned that the baguette is folded. The process is something like this, after the rise, place the dough on a clean floured work surface. Cut the dough into two or four pieces. Start with one piece by folding the dough over about a third of the way away from you. Then fold the other side over. From here, you can start rolling the dough out from the center out until you have the size you desire. One video I saw from a bakery, only did the fold once and then rolled it. The baker said you don’t want to work the dough too much so keep that in mind. Rinse and repeat with the other pieces of dough.

Folded French baguette.

Folded French baguette.

 

How To Bake A French Baguette

The trick to getting that soft inside with a crispy chewy crust is to use a high temperature and place a pan of water on the bottom rack of your oven to create steam. The steam allows the crust to expand before setting which creates a lighter airier loaf. The process also melts the dextrose on the crust and makes it slightly glazed. To properly steam the oven, place a pan of water, on the bottom shelf while the oven preheats. The other thing about making a French baguette is you need an oven at high heat. I was given this cool little baguette baking pan for Christmas which helps hold the baguette in form. This isn’t necessary but it is fun to use. It also gives the bottom crust a little lighter color and texture. If you don’t have a baguette pan, any baking pan will do. My favorite baking pan is this half sheet baking pan that is a total workhorse. It’s really great for baking bread bitches. It’s inexpensive, versatile, and should last you a long time.

Baguettes on final rise in baguette pan.

Baguettes on final rise in baguette pan.

Perfectly baked French baguettes.

French Baguette

Course: Lunch, Side Dish
Cuisine: French
Keyword: Baguette, French Baguette, French bread, Fresh Bread, Homemead Bread
Prep Time: 50 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Servings: 6 people
Calories: 234 kcal
Author: Barbara Tidwell

Delicious fresh bread baked as a baguette goes with so many things. 

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Ingredients

  • 3 c all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp yeast
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1+ c warm water

Instructions

  1. Mix flour and yeast together in a stand-up mixer with dough hook. Add warm water, up to 110° F, slowly until dough forms. The dough should form around the hook and come away from the sides. If it is too dry, add more water, if it is too wet, add more flour.

  2. Add salt until mixed in.

  3. On a clean floured surface, knead the dough by hand four at least 5 minutes but not more than 10.

  4. Place dough in a greased bowl and place in a warm place for at about 30 minutes or until doubled in size.

  5. Once the dough has risen, punch it down and pour onto a floured surface.

  6. Preheat oven to 450° F and place a pan of water in the oven about an inch deep.

  7. Cut dough in half.

  8. Fold each piece of dough. To fold, start by folding 1/3 of the dough over and press down. Fold the other half over and press. Fold again on each side then roll out to finish.

  9. Place the dough rolls on a baguette pan or a baking pan and place in the oven for 5 minutes. Remove water from the oven and continue baking another 15 minutes or until bread is a deep golden brown.

  10. Let cool before serving

Nutrition Facts
French Baguette
Amount Per Serving
Calories 234
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 0g 0%
Saturated Fat 0g 0%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 779mg 32%
Potassium 85mg 2%
Total Carbohydrates 48g 16%
Dietary Fiber 2g 8%
Sugars 0g
Protein 7g 14%
Calcium 0.9%
Iron 16.4%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.