The Baguette Guide
Welcome. Let’s make some ridiculously good baguettes!
If your dough is frozen and you’re going to bake it in the morning, then thaw it at room temperature overnight. If your dough is frozen and you’ll be baking it later the next day, then thaw it in the fridge and take it out a few hours before baking to bring it up to temp. If you forget to take it out the fridge, then use it cold, it’ll still make a fantastic baguette.
If your dough is fresh, just take it out the fridge a couple hours before you’re going to use it. If you forget, just use it cold, it’ll still make great bread.
Super Important - Use as little flour as possible, and don’t get flour on the underside (rough side) of the dough ball, which will face upwards, as it needs to stay sticky.
Sprinkle a little flour on the smooth top side of the dough ball and place that side facing down on your counter. The rougher side should be facing up.
As per the short video below (apologies for the poor quality, I need to remake it more professionally), press your dough ball out into a square shape, around 15cm in size. Then fold the top half down to the halfway point in the dough and seal the edge you just created. Now fold the top down to the bottom line of the dough ball and seal it again. It’s important to seal this edge so that it doesn’t open when baking. If you used too much flour, it won't be sticky and you'll struggle to seal the edge.
Lift your dough up and wipe away any flour on the surface. You want the dough to grip a little so that it rolls, and with too much flour it will slide.
Starting from the middle of the dough, roll your hands forwards and backwards to create your baguette. Don't push down hard, use gentle hands. As you do so, move your hands towards each edge and press a little harder as you get to the ends to create a point on each end. How long to make your baguette is up to you. Some people prefer a fatter one and other will prefer a thinner longer one. Just make sure you don’t exceed the length of your oven.
Place your baguettes on a tea towel to stop them sticking to the surface. Make a little canal for each baguette to keep them from touching, as shown in the photo. Sprinkle some flour across the top of the baguette and leave it to rest for around 15 minutes.
Your oven should be pre-heating to around 230c (adjust according to your oven). Whatever you’re going to bake on, ie. baking steel, pizza stone or baking tray, should be in the oven heating up so that your baguette will be placed onto a hot surface.
When your oven is ready, use a lame (blade for scoring bread), or a Stanley knife blade, or a very sharp knife, to cut a few slits in the top of the baguette. This allows gas to escape during baking rather than it exploding out through it’s own holes and ruining the shape you lovingly created.
Place the baguette in the oven. Add an oven-proof bowl of water in the oven, to create humidity. I put this on the rack below where my bread is as it maximises the space available for baguettes.
After 10 minutes, remove the water, especially if you like a hard crust. At this point, depending on your oven, you’ll probably want to turn the baguettes around to ensure they bake evenly.
Your baguettes will be ready in around 6-8 more minutes. Everyone enjoys their baguettes differently. Some people will want a softer crust and other like it hard. I prefer mine hard and I bake them for 18 minutes total in our fan oven. Watch them carefully towards the end and take them out when you’re happy with the colour and crust.
Baguettes are great warm, but I personally prefer them once cooled down and with cold butter. Enjoy!