French Baguette Recipe | Bread Recipes | PBS Food (2024)

Yield: 3 to 4 Loaves or 2 Boules

Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: French


  • 5 cups bread flour
  • 2 cups cool water (about 78 F)
  • One .6-ounce cube compressed (fresh) yeast
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons salt


  1. Mound flour on a smooth work surface and make a well in the center. A little at a time, pour water into the well. Use fingertips to draw in flour closest to water. Work in increasingly larger circles, adding water and drawing in flour to form a medium-soft dough. Pull dough toward you with a dough scraper. Smear small pieces of dough across the work surface away from you with the heel of your hand. Work through all the dough in this way.
  2. Put dough on a floured board, cover with a towel, and let rest 15 minutes. Flatten dough into a disk and crumble yeast over it; fold dough over on itself to mix in yeast. Repeat flattening and folding until yeast is fully incorporated. Sprinkle on salt and knead for 15 minutes, using flour as necessary, until smooth and elastic.
  3. Grab dough at one end and lift shoulder-high. Slam it onto work surface and roll dough over on itself. Give dough a quarter turn, grab at one end, and repeat slamming, rolling, and turning motion for 10 to 15 minutes, using flour as necessary, until the dough is smooth and elastic.
  4. Form into a tight ball and let rest, covered with a floured towel, for 15 minutes. Turn dough over and flatten slightly.
  5. Grab dough on either side and stretch it out; fold stretched ends back to the center. Repeat with top and bottom. Work into a tight ball and put onto a floured baker's peel or floured work surface, cover with a floured towel, and let rise in a warm place until nearly doubled. Turn dough out onto work surface and punch down.
  6. Divide into thirds or quarters (or halves, for boules; see below). Form into balls, cover lightly, and let rest 5 minutes. Rub flour into a large cotton towel and lay on a board or peel. Make a standing pleat at a short end of the towel and set aside.
  7. To form batards, turn dough smooth side down and flatten it. Lift dough, fold into thirds, and flatten into an even rectangle. Roll and flatten two more times. Dust hands, dough, and board with flour as necessary. Put dough seam side up on work surface and mark the midpoint with a groove. Lift top edge of dough and fold it two thirds of the way down. Seal the seam with the heel of your hand. Lift, fold, and seal again.
  8. Fold top edge down to bottom edge and seal the seam. Scrape work surface and, working with one piece of dough at a time, turn the dough seam side down, cup right hand over center of dough, and place cupped left hand over right. Start rolling dough back and forth along counter, widening the space between hands as dough extends; keep hands cupped and fingertips and heels of hands touching the counter. Push dough forward with heels of hands and pull it back with fingertips.
  9. When it is about 14 inches long, press down on ends to taper them. Lift shaped dough, seam side up, onto floured towel and pull a pleat of towel up to cradle it. When pieces are shaped, fold end of towel over loaves and let rest 2 hours, or until dough has risen and barely springs back when poked. Position rack in lower third of oven and line with a baking tile. Place a cast-iron skillet on oven bottom.
  10. Preheat oven to 425 F. Flour a baker's peel. Toss 1/2 cup water into skillet and immediately close oven door. Flip one batard onto the peel and slash 3 diagonal cuts in the top. Transfer immediately to the oven. Slash and transfer the other two batards as fast as possible. Bake 20 to 25 minutes, until brown and an internal temperature of 200 F. Cool loaves at least 20 minutes before cutting.
  11. To form a boule, fold dough over on itself a few times on an unfloured work surface. Work dough between hands and surface to form a smooth ball. Line a colander with a floured towel and place dough inside. Let it rise in the colander 2 hours.
  12. Position rack in lower third of oven and line with a baking tile. Place a cast-iron skillet on oven bottom. Preheat oven to 425 F. Flour a baker's peel.
  13. Toss 1/2 cup water into skillet and immediately close oven door. Roll the boule onto the floured peel and transfer to the oven. Bake 25 minutes or until brown and an internal temperature of 200 F. Cool at least 20 minutes before cutting.

Tags: Baking Recipes, Bread Recipes

French Baguette Recipe | Bread Recipes | PBS Food (2024)


What is the traditional food in France baguette? ›

The baguette is one of France's most-loved loaves and is eaten throughout the day. Baguettes can be eaten as early as breakfast time—often toasted, buttered, and dunked in coffee. It's a source of carbohydrates and the fiber necessary to start the day off right! Fruit jam can also be added for an extra treat.

What is the secret of the French baguette? ›

One of the secrets of a great baguette is to start with a sponge (a mix of flour, water, and yeast), which gives the yeast time to mature and combine with the other ingredients, creating the mildly sour and nutty flavors and chewy texture.

What are French baguettes used for? ›

Baguettes, either relatively short single-serving size or cut from a longer loaf, are very often used for sandwiches, usually of the submarine sandwich type, but also a panini. They are often sliced and served with pâté or cheese.

What is the difference between a baguette and a French baguette? ›

First and foremost, the flour used in France is of very high quality. But the major difference between French and an American baguette is the fermentation process. Most French bakers use a poolish process, which consists of a mix of yeast and water that's allowed to ferment overnight.

What is the difference between a French baguette and a classic baguette? ›

Baguette or pain courant, which is what we typically call “French bread,” would be more of a commercial style (cottony texture and yeasted) whereas baguette de tradition would be more of the long-fermented style.

What is the best way to eat a baguette? ›

Don't use too much force, but do it slowly and gently to prevent the baguette from suddenly cracking in half. Use your canine teeth to bite into the crust. Your front teeth will be too fragile, and the back teeth will not be sharp enough to cut through the crust.

What is the proper way to eat a baguette? ›

Usually, just breaking off a piece from an end is sufficient. That's the norm at table. Also the norm when bringing the baguette home from the bakery! If it's to be used for a sandwich, then a baguette can be sliced horizontally and cut into however many pieces are required.

What not to do with a baguette? ›

You don't slather butter over your baguette. If you must have butter, you can put a pat on a small piece of bread, but not on a slice. No sandwiches!

What is a Louisiana baguette? ›

This thin-crusted variety of French Bread—more commonly known as the Baguette, Po' Boy Loaf or Sunday Cap Bread—is fundamental to the New Orleans gastronomy. Each version of the French bread is slightly different. The baguette is the traditional 18-inch loaf that is served in many New Orleans restaurants.

Why are baguettes so much better in France? ›

In France, bakers pay careful attention to where their flour is made and which grains are used in the milling process. The result is usually softer, heartier, and tastier bread than can be found in other parts of the world. French flour tends to be made with a lower ash content than the flour from other countries.

Do the French eat a baguette a day? ›

95% of French people eat bread every day. This is the number of baguettes sold in France every year. That means more than 300 baguettes sold every second, and more than 27 million per day.

What kind of cheese goes with baguette? ›

Bread & cheese

For soft rind-washed cheeses, such as Camembert, Brie, or Chaource, a French baguette is the best. It provides a tasty contrast of creamy cheese and crispy baguette. Bleu du Vercors, Fourme d'Ambert, and other blue cheeses go well with rye bread.

What are the three types of baguettes? ›

Of the four main types of baguettes — baguette ordinaire, baguette moulée (moulded baguette), baguette farinée (floured baguette), and baguette de tradition (traditional baguette) — the baguette de tradition is the true artisanal loaf, calling on the skills of the baker as outlined in the Bread Law.

Why do you put water on baguettes? ›

Spraying water when putting the the dough in the. oven helps keep the crust soft to allow maximum. oven spring.

How is a baguette traditionally eaten? ›

The cool thing in France is that you are free to eat your baguette (and whatever you eat, really) the way you like. So yes, some eat their baguettes in thin slices, while some other just break pieces off. Some others don't eat it and store it to make some pain perdu (lost bread), which I recommend.

What is Paris baguette famous for? ›

Paris Baguette if you don't know, is known for it's baked goods. The menu consists of items like breads, pastries, croissants, and even cakes.

What is the perfect baguette tradition like? ›

A French baguette de tradition is obliged to respect a number of rules. For example, it cannot be frozen in any way while being made (such as freezing pieces of dough), nor may it contain any additives or enhancers that might be used to facilitate or shorten one or several stages in the cooking process.

How is a baguette traditionally made? ›

How are baguettes made? Traditional French baguettes are normally produced from a relatively lean formula that may or may not contain sugar or shortening. Most French baguette doughs are made with a pre-ferment such as poolish or a sponge which takes up to 10 hours prior to dough making.


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