When you think of French baked goods, one cannot help but be reminded of the crusty baguette. This quintessential French bread holds such significance in the country’s culinary tradition that it was recognised and included in the prestigious UNESCO intangible cultural heritage list.
This recognition highlights the artisanal know-how and cultural importance of the baguette bread in France, solidifying its place as an integral part of the nation’s heritage. The baguette’s crispy exterior and soft, airy interior make it a beloved choice for sandwiches, as well as a staple accompaniment to meals. Whether enjoyed on its own or used as the perfect vehicle for various fillings, the baguette continues to be cherished by both locals and visitors alike, further contributing to its enduring popularity and cultural significance.
Simple French Baguette
- Baker’s cloth
- * 500 g all-purpose flour plain
- * 325 g water at 20°C 68°F
- * 100 g Liquid Levain
- * 3 g fresh yeast crumbled
- * 10 g Guérande sea salt
- Put the flour and water into a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook and mix for 4 minutes on low speed. Cover the mixer bowl with a damp cloth and rest for 1 hour, then add the levain, yeast and salt. Knead for 4 minutes on low speed, then for 7 minutes on high speed. The dough should be smooth and pull away from the sides of the bowl. Gather the dough into a ball, cover with a damp cloth and leave to rest for 11⁄2 hours at room temperature. The dough will have increased in volume by the end of the resting time.
- On a floured work counter, divide the dough into three equal pieces. Fold each piece over on itself, pulling gently to stretch into a longish log. Cover with a damp cloth and rest for 30 minutes at room temperature.
- Working with one piece of dough at a time, use the palm of your hand to flatten it gently. With the long side facing you, fold in a third towards the middle and press along the edge with your fingertips. Swivel the dough 180 degrees. Fold in the other long edge so that it overlaps in the centre and press with the heel of your hand. Fold one half on top of the other and seal the edges together with the heel of your hand.
- With lightly floured hands, roll the baguette out to 55 cm (21 inches) long, then pinch each end into a point. Repeat with the other 2 baguettes.
- Carefully lift the baguettes onto a lightly floured baker’s cloth, seams underneath. Separate them by making folds in the cloth. Cover with a damp cloth and prove (proof) for 1 hour 40 minutes at room temperature, by which time the baguettes will have increased in volume.
- Place a baking pan on the lowest rack of the oven and preheat the oven to 230°C (450°F). Gently place the baguettes, seam down, on a baking sheet lined with baking (parchment) paper. Dust with flour and make
- 4 evenly spaced oblique slashes along the length of each baguette. Once the oven is hot, pour 50 ml (31⁄2 tbsp/ 13⁄4 fl oz) water into the hot baking pan. Put the baguettes and pan of water into the oven and bake for 20 minutes.
- Remove the loaves from the oven, then cool on a wire rack.
Recipe extracted from The Bread Book by Éric Kayser.
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