Recipe for French Baguettes

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I was browsing through my holiday photos and found some pictures that I forgot to share! Sorry! I really don’t know how I missed this one, because these French Baguettes were amazing!

When we were in Illinois for Christmas we helped my dad make Peter Reinhart’s French Baguettes. My dad makes bread all the time so I am glad he was in charge of this one…making the bread was quite the process, but so worth it in the end.

You have to start the pre-frermentee the night before. And make sure you allow plenty of time for raising, baking, etc. If you don’t have Peter’s book, I suggest you get it. He gives TONS of helpful hints for bread baking…and the recipes are fabulous!

We made two large baguettes because we wanted to make sandwiches. You can make three small ones though. You are supposed to let the bread cool before slicing, but my dad can never wait. He slices right in and slathers lots of butter on. It is best right out of the oven:)

I really liked this recipe. The bread had a nice crust and the inside was soft, everything a good French baguette should be! Thanks Pops for helping us make this. We can’t wait to try it on our own!

I hope everyone is having a nice weekend! We don’t have to work tomorrow! Yahoo! I love long weekends

French Baguettes

makes 3 small baguettes or 2 large baguettes
For the pre-ferment (pâte fermentée):
2 ¼ cups (10 ounces) unbleached bread flour

¾ teaspoon salt½ teaspoon instant yeast
¾ cup + 2 tablespoons (7 ounces) water, at room temperature

Mix all of the ingredients in a bowl until the dough comes together and knead until it goes from a sticky mess to a smooth ball.
Let rise in a sealed container for about 1 hour at room temperature or until it expands to 1 ½ times its size.
Knead lightly for about a minute and return to the sealed container. Keep in the refrigerator overnight. The pre-ferment will be usable for up to 3 days. Be sure that your container can handle a volume at least 3 times as big as the dough.

For the final dough:
All of the pâte fermentée

2 ¼ cups (10 ounces) unbleached bread flour

¾ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon instant yeast
¾ cup + 2 tablespoons (7 ounces) water, at room temperature

Take your pre-fermented dough out of the refrigerator and leave it at room temperature for about 1 hour to take off the chill. It will be bubbly and may continue to rise in your container.Cut up the pre-ferment into small pieces and mix with the second half.
Knead for about 10 minutes. By hand or you can use a Kitchenaid Mixer.
In a lightly oiled container, ferment at room temperature for about 2 hours or until the dough doubles in size.It’s very important to put some oil in the container so the dough doesn’t stick when extracting from the bowl later. It should come out as one well-formed blob and feel very slightly sticky to the touch. From this point on, handle the dough as gently as possible to keep the bubbles within from deflating.Use a weighing scale and divide the dough into 3 or 2 equal pieces, depending on how many baguettes you are making.

Next shape the baguettes. Peter gives a nice description in the book. It takes some practice to get them perfect! Proof the shaped baguettes with the seam side up at room temperature for 45 to 75 minutes or until it expands to 1 ½ times its size.

Preheat your oven to 500°F with a steam pan, in the bottom of the oven. Transfer the proofed baguettes onto parchment paper on the back of a sheet pan. The seams previously on top should now be on the bottom.

Score the baguettes. Using a very sharp knife or a bread slashing tool called a lamé, create incisions about half an inch deep that overlap and run almost parallel to the imaginary line running down the center of the loaves. Cuts that run from side to side will barely expand because long loaves tend to widen instead of lengthen as a result of oven spring.

Load the oven with the sheet pan or transfer the loaves onto a hot baking stone. Pour 2 cups of boiling water onto the steam pan and immediately close the oven door. Lower the oven to 450°F and bake for 10 minutes. Rotate the loaves 180 degrees and bake for another 10 to 20 minutes until the crust turns golden brown.

Place the baguettes on a cooling rack for about 1 hour. We never wait! I know you are supposed to but the bread is so good out of the oven!

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I'm Maria and my husband is Josh. We share a love of cooking, baking, and entertaining. We enjoy creating recipes that are simple, fresh, and family friendly. We love sitting around the table with good food, good conversation, and good friends and family! Our kitchen is always open!
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