Authentic Baguettes at Home

From Cook's Illustrated | September/October 2014

Why this recipe works:

For a homemade baguette that rivals the best from Parisian boulangeries, we took a trip to France to learn firsthand what it takes. The problem with most published recipes, we discovered, is that all the small details that matter are glossed over. For an authentic wheaty flavor, we add a bit… read more

For a homemade baguette that rivals the best from Parisian boulangeries, we took a trip to France to learn firsthand what it takes. The problem with most published recipes, we discovered, is that all the small details that matter are glossed over. For an authentic wheaty flavor, we add a bit of whole-wheat flour (sifted to remove some of the larger pieces of bran that would otherwise add bitterness and make the loaf dense) to the white flour. Mixing the dough in a machine and then using a series of gentle folds to develop the dough creates the perfect tender, irregular internal crumb. Next we employ a long, slow rise in the refrigerator, which delivers the complex flavor of fermentation while making the recipe flexible, since we can bake the loaves anytime within a three-day window. To shape the loaves perfectly without overworking the dough, we employ a multistep approach that gradually transforms them into baguettes. Finally, we ensure a crispy, crackly crust by moistening the couche, the pleated linen cloth that holds the loaves as they proof, and by starting the loaves beneath a pair of upturned disposable roasting pans to trap steam as it evaporates from the exterior of the dough.

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Authentic Baguettes at Home

Most American baguettes are doughy and pale, and the recipes we found weren’t much better. To get it right, we went to Paris to learn from the masters.

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Makes four 15-inch-long baguettes

If you can’t find King Arthur all-purpose flour, substitute bread flour. For best results, weigh your ingredients. This recipe makes enough dough for four loaves, which can be baked anytime during the 24- to 72-hour window after placing the dough in the fridge. For tips on folding and slashing, see "Why Some Bread Doughs Are Folded" and "Slashing Rustic Loaves" under related content. It's essential to watch our video on making baguettes.

Ingredients

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