Have you ever made French Baguettes?? It sounds so complicated and looks like so much work. Especially dealing with the yeast, and kneading, why not just go out and buy a loaf?
With this recipe, the most complicated thing is having a spray bottle, and waiting for it to rise. There is no need to “activate” the yeast in just the right temperature water, and there is no kneading involved. Mix, proof, form, proof, spray, cook, and eat. Store bought baguettes can now be a thing of the past!
I have made this delicious recipe multiple times since Chef John has posted it on Food Wishes because it’s so easy. And, well, everyone keeps asking for more. This recipe uses a water bath in the bottom of the oven and a spray bottle to achieve a nice crunchy crust with a soft bread-y inside. If you don’t have a spray bottle, a pastry brush with water will work just fine.
The biggest thing I have learned is letting it sit long enough the first proofing to develop flavor. It’s supposed to rise for 12-14 hours for the first proof, and about an hour for the second proof. If you can go longer than 12 hours I highly suggest it. The dough will be kind of sticky, and it’s supposed to be that way. Just make sure you flour your hands and surfaces enough while working with it.
- ¼ teaspoon dry active yeast
- 1½ cups room temp water (325 grams)
- 1¾ teaspoons salt
- 18 ounces all-purpose flour (500 grams or about 4 cups)
- In a large bowl, mix together yeast and water, give it a stir and add in the salt.
- Next, mix in flour with a wooden spoon. It will look like it’s too dry, or too wet at some points but don’t worry, with a little arm power it will come together (as long as you measured or weighed everything.)
- Now cover the bowl with some plastic wrap and a towel and place in a turned off oven for 12-14 hours, or until it doubles in size.
- Once the dough has puffed, use a floured spatula to scrape out the dough onto a floured surface. Dust a bit of flour on top as well as your hands to shape the dough into a large rectangle. Now cut it into four pieces.
- Take a sheet pan lined with parchment or silicone pad and sprinkle some corn meal in the general shapes of the loaves.
- Now take one of your pieces and lightly fold and roll the dough until it’s in a baguette form and place on your sheet pan over the corn meal. Repeat with the rest of the dough.
- Lightly dust the tops of the loaves with some flour. Take some plastic wrap and dust with flour, then place it over your baguettes to rise. Put these in a turned off oven for 1 to 1.5 hours, or until they double in size.
- Once doubled in size, take them out of the oven and preheat it to 550F. Place a 9×13 pan on the bottom rack filled with water.
- While you’re waiting for the oven to preheat, make some slices in the tops of the baguettes. Just a few 45 degree slashes on the tops with kitchen sheers. If there are pointy edges sticking up, press them down so they don’t burn.
- Now is the time for your spray bottle. Right before you put them in the oven, spray with a healthy dose of water. Bake for 5 minutes.
- When the timer goes off, quickly spray the bread with some more water and put back in the oven for 5 more minutes. They will still look very pale at this point.
- Once again, when the timer goes off, quickly spray the bread with some more water and put back in the oven for 5 more minuets. You will be able to see the crust starting to develop, maybe even a little bit of browning.
- The whole baking process should take about 15 minutes, until it’s browned and has a nice looking crust.
- Remove from the oven and place on a cooling rack. But don’t let that warm bread tempt you, wait until it’s cooled all the way for maximum crunchy outside and soft inside to cut into it.