Tutorial: Simple French Baguettes {aka, The Bread You Can’t Stop Eating}

Easy French Baguettes

I’ve been wanting to post this bread recipe for awhile, because next to Easy Artisan Bread, it’s my favorite bread to make. It’s mixed and kneaded in a food processor, (although, like anything, it can be made by hand) so most of the preparation time is spent waiting for the rise. In fact, this can be made in the morning, left to rise all day in the fridge, and then shaped for the second rise a couple hours before you want to eat in order to have freshly baked bread for dinner. And, you gotta love any bread that requires only one minute of kneading.

The very first time I made this bread our family dubbed it “the bread you can’t stop eating” because I think the four of us ate both loaves in one sitting!

However, I only make this bread occasionally for company or times I need smaller bread slices (for appetizers and such) because I found that the flavor was not as wonderful when I used whole wheat flour (which was pretty curious to me, as I usually can never tell a flavor difference when I bake with whole wheat). And I want to make the majority of our breads with whole wheat. So when I want a wonderful, simple, unbleached flour French bread (which I think is fine once in awhile) this is the bread I make.

I’ve broken the recipe down into steps so you can follow along and easily make your own bread that you can’t stop eating:

Note: This recipe makes two smaller baguettes, which is why if fits in a 7-cup food processor. If you’d like more, you’ll need to make one batch, get it rising and then make another (no need to wash the processor- it’s all bread).

1. Start by adding 3 cups of flour to the bowl of the processor (or a medium sized bowl if making by hand).

2. Add 1 teaspoon of instant yeast- not plain active dry. I think it’s also called fast acting or rapid rise, but it’s the type that you don’t need to dissolve in water first and can be added directly to the dry ingredients.

3. Add 1-1/2 teaspoons of salt. I used kosher here, but any salt is fine.

4. Pulse the dry ingredients together to mix, and then pour in 1-1/4 cups warm water. Use warm water from the tap- don’t try to boil or microwave the water to warm because it invariably gets too warm and that can kill the yeast.

5. Mix by pulsing the processor (or using a wooden spoon if making by hand) until all is combined and a ball forms- this “kneading” in the processor should take about one full minute (or 10 minutes by hand on a slightly floured board). It should still be sticky/tacky like this:

6. Pull the dough out of the processor onto a lightly floured surface. While the dough sticks to the bowl, it should not be sticking too much to your fingers (this is always the way bread dough should act, by the way- if it rolls out of a bowl without any tackiness, that’s a sign that too much flour has been added and the bread will be heavy). Knead it a few times into a round ball.

7. Place the dough in a bowl greased with olive oil, cover and let rise an hour until doubled. At this point you could also place the dough in the refrigerator instead and let it rise slowly until about two hours before you want to serve it, which is great if you’re going to be gone most of the day or you’d like to prepare in advance for guests.

8. This is what the dough should look like after the first rise. Punch it down (my kids always loved this part!).

9. Turn out onto a floured surface and divide in half. I use a dish towel dusted with a bit of flour for all my breads to minimize clean-up and to use the least amount of flour. Using a rolling pin or your hands, press each half into a long rectangle (about 13″ x 7″) and then roll up, pinching the end to seal.

10. Place seam side down on a lightly oiled or parchment-lined baking sheet (I use liners). If you like cornmeal on the bottom of you bread, dust with a bit of that before placing the loaves on the sheet- I prefer mine without.

11. Cover with a towel (I use the one I rolled them out on), and leave to rise for about an hour. Start preheating the oven to 450 degrees 15 minutes before the rise is complete.

You can see that they rise quite a bit during this rise- if my oven was bigger, I could make these longer to get those really narrow, long baguettes!

12. I like to lightly brush the tops with water before putting them in the oven to help the crust get that crispiness I always associate with a good baguette.

baguette bite

13. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the crust is firm and golden brown, turning as needed for even browning. Let cool on a rack about 10 minutes before cutting. If you can wait that long.

French baguette

Make this bread. Please.

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Simple French Baguettes (aka, “The Bread You Can’t Stop Eating”)

  • 3 c. unbleached flour
  • 1 tsp. instant yeast
  • 1-1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1-1/4 c. warm water
  • olive oil
  1. In a food processor (or mixing bowl), combine the flour, instant yeast, and the salt. Pulse to mix.
  2. Add the water and pulse a few times to mix before running the machine for a full minute to knead the bread (it should form a slightly sticky ball). Pull the dough out of the processor onto a lightly floured surface and knead a few times to form into a ball (if making by hand, mix until combined, turn out onto a floured surface and knead about 10 minutes).
  3. Place the ball in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with a cloth and let rise until doubled (one hour). Alternately, let rise slowly in the refrigerator until about two hours before serving.
  4. Punch the dough down and turn onto a lightly floured surface. Divide the dough and roll each half into a long rectangle (about 13″x7″); roll up and pinch ends to seal.
  5. Place seam side down on a lined or greased baking sheet (dusted with cornmeal if you like), cover with a towel, and let rise another hour to double the volume.
  6. Fifteen minutes before the second rise is complete, preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
  7. Lightly brush the loaves with water before placing in the heated oven. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes until the crust is firm and the loaves are golden brown.
  8. Cool on a wire rack about 10 minutes before serving warm with your meal. These also freeze wonderfully and can be reheated in foil in the oven.

Makes 2 loaves.

 

-Jami

This is linked to Fun with Food Fridays,It’s a Hodgepodge Friday, Everything But The Kitchen Sink, Saturday Nite Special, and Countdown to 2012: Best Bread Recipes of 2011!

Comments

  1.  Shirley says

    This looks so delicious!! I wonder, can it be made in a bread machine? I can never get my bread to rise on its own.

  2.  says

    Hi Jamie – It’s so nice to meet another Oregon blogger. I don’t bake bread often enough and appreciate your step by step instructions. You’ve inspired me to give it a try. What could be better with a big bowl of soup on a wintery day?

  3.  Jami @An Oregon Cottage says

    Whoo-hoo, Janet Marie-nothing like taking the bull by the horns, huh? :-)

    Shirley- I’ve never used a bread machine, so I’m not sure how easy it is to make a regular recipe transfer. Let us know if you try!

    Cathy- Yeah- another Oregon blogger! So glad your going to try it- you won’t be sorry. ;-)

  4.  Rose says

    Hi Jami,

    You posted this on the right day for me because I tried your recipe yesterday and the bread was wonderful! I do have to say that I always use active dry yeast vs. instant yeast and proof it for the very reason that happened to me yesterday. Have you ever had your instant yeast not rise?

    I proofed my yeast but it didn’t proof. My hands were cold so I thought that maybe I had misjudged the water temperature. So I proofed a new batch. Nothing. I got another jar of yeast and added a bit of sugar for the yeast to feed on. Nada. Becoming frustrated, I decided to take the temperature of the water, add sugar, and set it on our woodstove where it was definitely warm, and tada! I had active yeast. So, I am not sure why every now and then I have some mysterious force preventing my yeast from working, but I always seem to get it to work in the end. And this batch that worked was from my first jar of yeast, not the second jar that I had opened. I make enough bread and pizza dough on a regular basis that my yeast should not go bad, but if anyone can shed some light for my as to why yeast is so finicky at times, please let me know.

    The other thing I usually do is spray water into the oven right before I put the bread in and I brushed mine with water like you said and it turned out great. Thanks for sharing, Jami.

    •  Esther says

      I’m glad I noticed this comment because this is initially why I landed in this site. I was searching how to make bread in Oregon (moved here not too long ago and my bread recipes were not rising). For all the bread I make now, I first put yeast in 1/4 cup of warm water and for every 1 TB of yeast I add 1 tsp of sugar and let sit for about 5 minutes. It has never failed me!

  5.  Jami @An Oregon Cottage says

    Rose- Well, I’m glad after all that that the bread turned out for you!
    To be honest I don’t have many problems with instant yeast, per se. Meaning, since I don’t proof it, I don’t see it. ;-) What I do get sometimes is bread that doesn’t rise like it should, though it’s always edible bread. From the same batch of yeast, like you. Wish I knew the reason- it does seem rather random, though I suppose I must be doing something wrong. :-)

    -Jami

  6.  says

    These look wonderful! I’ve always wanted to make a baguette… maybe 2012 will be the year! Thanks for linking this up to the best bread recipes of 2011.

  7.  says

    Hi, love this easy recipe! I tried it but somehow my dough never seemed to poof up or get bigger. Is there any tips or some way I’ve done wrongly? Let me know?

    Thank you.
    Cheers!

    •  says

      I read your post, Priscilla, and I think you’re right that if you made only two they would’ve risen better. Either that or your yeast was old. :)

  8.  Rachel says

    Just made this yesterday along with your granola and it was outstanding. Now waiting on your chewy granola bars in the fridge. Thank you for these wonderful resources!!

  9.  rose says

    Hi Jamie, would like to try your bread however, I just wanted to know if you used your dough blade or your regular blade in the food processor?

    Thanks in advance,
    rose

  10.  Linnet says

    Hi Jami

    Thanks for sharing the recipe, I’ve tried it myself and loved the results but I would like to know if I could bake the bread within the day of making the dough?

    Cheers
    Linnet

    •  says

      I’m not sure what you’re asking, Linnet – could you clarify? I always bake this bread the same day – either right away or after sitting in the fridge for a few hours. Do you mean you want to leave it in the fridge?

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