If you have been keeping up with my posts the last few weeks, then you know that we have basically turned our kitchen into a full-on bread bakery. The third batch of artisan bread to be created in our kitchen is none other than classic, homemade no knead French baguettes. These baguettes are just what bread dreams are made of -- light, tender and airy crumb inside, and a crispy, crunchy crust outside.
Ingredients in Homemade Bread
To make almost any rustic homemade bread, you will need just 4 simple ingredients.
- flour - all-purpose flour
- yeast - instant yeast
- water - lukewarm
- salt - for flavour
You also need a baking tray to bake the bread in, and another baking pan to create steam in your oven.
How to Make No Knead French Baguettes
French baguettes are so so easy to prepare, taking only 10 minutes of actual active time. The rest of the time is just waiting time for the dough to rise. Here is a summary of the steps that you will need to take.
- Activate yeast: Dissolve instant yeast in lukewarm water in a cup, stir until mixed together.
- Prepare dough: Combine flour and salt in a large bowl. Pour yeast liquid mixture in and whisk to combine.
- Allow dough to rise: Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough sit at room temperature for 2 hours, until dough doubles in size. Stretch and fold the dough every 30 minutes. After another hour, the dough will rise and build up enough gluten strength.
- Divide and shape the dough: Divide dough into 3 equal parts. Shape each dough into a round ball. Let the dough rest for another 45 minutes. Then, shape the dough into oval shapes and then roll into logs. Place each dough on a well-floured surface and cover. Let rest for another 45 minutes.
- Bake bread: Transfer the dough onto a parchment-lined baking tray. Preheat oven to 450°F and add steam. Bake for 20 minutes.
Tips for the Baking the Perfect French Baguette
Follow the tips below to ensure that you get that perfect French baguette every single time.
- use unopened and unexpired yeast that was stored int a cool and dry area - make sure the instant yeast is in an original, unopened package, and that it has not expired (note that instant yeast has a relatively shorter shelf life).
- the yeast mixture should start to bubble - when mixing the yeast in lukewarm water, the mixture should start to bubble and develop a yeasty aroma.
- add steam to the oven - this is the key to getting the perfect crispy, crackly crust on french baguettes. You add steam to the oven by placing a baking pan with water on the bottom of the oven, and then preheating it.
- use a bench scraper - french baguette dough is very sticky with 75% hydration (flour to water ratio). So a bench scraper is very helpful to help handle and transfer the dough. You can also use flour if needed during transfer.
- fold and press when shaping the dough - there are many different techniques to use when shaping baguettes. The key is to fold and press to seal the edges so that air pockets get trapped inside the dough. This is why you see large air holes when you cut into baguettes.
- serve fresh out of the oven - French baguettes are best when they are fresh out of the oven. If you need to store them for longer periods of time, you can freeze them to extend their freshness.
How to Serve French Baguettes
French baguettes are the perfect bread to use when making bruschetta or crostini or when used for sandwiches. One of my favourite ways is in a lemongrass chicken banh mi sandwich. It is also delicious as toast with butter and jam or for french toast.
This bread is best served fresh out of the oven. If you need to store for more than a day, you can easily store the baguettes in the freezer. Just slice them up first, and reheat in the toaster under the defrost setting.
More Homemade Bread Recipes
- Easy Small Batch Ciabatta Rolls
- Small Batch No Knead Bread
- Sunflower Seed Bread
- Quick and Easy Dinner Rolls
These homemade no knead French baguettes are just what bread dreams are made of -- light, tender and airy crumb inside, and a crispy, crunchy crust outside.
- 1 teaspoon instant yeast
- 320 grams room temperature water
- 430 grams all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- In small cup, dissolve instant yeast in water and stir to mix together (the mixture should start to bubble and develop a yeasty aroma). Let it sit for 2 minutes.
- In a large bowl, add flour and salt. Pour in yeast mixture and whisk until fully combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl (there should be no dry flour particles visible). The mixture is very sticky and wet, with an 75% hydration (flour to water ratio).
- Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it sit at room temperature for 2 hours, or until the dough doubles in size (Note that a higher room temperature will speed up the fermentation process and will cause the dough to rise faster). This is called first proofing or bulk fermentation.
- Apply some water onto your hands and stretch and fold the dough in the bowl by folding the edges into the centre. Wet hands make it easier to work with the dough. Cover with a dry cloth and let the dough rest. Repeat this stretch and fold step every 30 minutes (you will do it two more times).
- After 1 hour (3 hours total time so far), with 3 rounds of stretch and folds in total, the dough will build up gluten strength and become less sticky.
- Using a spatula, transfer dough to a floured surface. Sprinkle dough with flour for easier handling. Divide the dough into 3 equal parts (250 grams each). Shape each dough into a round ball by pulling the edges over to the centre. Cover with a dry cloth and let it rest for another 45 minutes.
- Gently press each dough to flatten into an oval shape. Fold the edge over, one inch at a time, and press the edge to seal the seam firmly. It takes 3 folds to seal the seams. Roll the dough into a log with the 2 ends slightly pointy. Repeat this step with remaining 2 dough balls.
- Place each piece on a well-floured work surface and separate them apart. Sprinkle some flour over the dough and cover with a dry cloth. Let rest for about 45 minutes. This is called the final proofing.
- Carefully transfer each piece onto a parchment-lined 8x12-inch baking tray. Because the dough is still quite sticky, dust with flour to help handle them.
- Fill a baking pan with water and place it in the bottom of your oven. Preheat the oven to 450 F, and allow it to fill with steam from the water. When the oven is ready, use a razor or sharp knife to make 3 incisions at about a 45° angle on each baguette. Slide the baking tray in and spray some water over the dough immediately. Bake for 25 minutes.
- Let them cool for 20 minutes. To check if the bread is done, you can tap the bottom of the bread with your finger. The bread will sound hollow when done.
- After the first proofing (the initial rise), you can either complete the three sets of stretches and folds (steps 4 and 5 above), OR leave it covered in the refrigerator overnight for at least 8 hours to build up gluten strength naturally.
- French baguettes are best served fresh out of the oven. If you need to store them for more than a day, you can easily store it in the freezer. Just slice is up first, and reheat in the toaster under the defrost setting.
- Category: Bread
Keywords: french baguette, french bread, bread