Deliciously simple yet crusty and crackly, homemade French Baguettes. Follow this recipe for easy French Baguettes even first time bakers can make.
- 8 grams traditional yeast ( or 2 teaspoons)
- 1 tablespoon honey (natural honey worked better than the squeezable one)
- 1 1/4 cups warm water (not too hot - you don’t want to cook the yeast, just wake it up)
- 1 tablespoon fleur de sel ( if you are using table salt, use only a teaspoon)
- 2 1/2 cups bread flour (I used all purpose flour which also worked fine)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
Proof the yeast with the honey and warm water. For bread making novices this means putting the warm water in your big mixing bowl and adding the yeast and honey. Give it a little stir and then let it sit on the counter for 10 minutes. You will see the grains of yeast wake up and rise to the surface and expand (this is a cool process to share with kids!).
Once proofed, add salt and slowly add the flour and olive oil until a shaggy dough is formed. I started using a spatula and then dug in with my hands to work in all the flour. Form a round ball in the bowl but be careful not to work the dough too much. No need to use the Kitchen Aid for this recipe!
Dust the top of your dough ball with little bit of flour then cover with a towel. My Nanny’s trick was to wet a thin tea towel with hot water to cover the dough with and then place the bowl on top of the fridge for a little extra heat from the motor. I don’t have room on top of my fridge but placing the bowl on top of my dryer worked wonders. Let the dough rise until it doubles in size (about an hour) then split dough in 2 and roll out your baguettes.
This is where it gets a little technical and where I struggled in my first attempt. Rolling out dough takes some skill. See video in blog post below for how Le Chef rolled out our baguettes and then cut (or scored) them beautifully to create tearable pieces to the baguette.
Place the baguettes on a cookie sheet sprinkled with flour and then sprinkle a little more flour on top. Sprinkle a little fleur de sel. Let baguettes rise for another 30 minutes (uncovered) while oven preheats.
Heat oven to 460 degrees. Once the oven is hot, fill a 9 inch pan halfway with water and place on the bottom rack of the oven. This creates steam and and is the key factor to that crackly crust we love .
Bake for 25 minutes. Remove the pan of water (very carefully!) and bake another 5 minutes or so. The baguettes should be beautifully golden brown and sound hollow when tapped.
Le Chef's Wife
** Le Chef's Wife tip: Oven temperatures can vary drastically! If this is the first time you are making these baguettes keep a very close eye on them, especially after 18 minutes or so. You want the crust to be a deep, rich golden brown but not too dark. If the top gets too dark too quickly, bring the rack down a notch and take out a few minutes earlier. Resist the temptation to bring the heat down too much - it is the hot heat that creates the delicious crust!