Traditional crusty French baguette is at your fingertips with this easy to follow recipe. This recipe uses a baking stone, but this is optional. Whether you want to create delicious sandwiches or simply mop up the lunchtime soup, this is the recipe for you.
Makes: 1 loaf
350ml warm water (46 degrees C)
1/4 teaspoon caster sugar
1 teaspoon dried active yeast
400g plain flour
1 teaspoon salt
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Directions Preparation:30min › Cook:30min › Extra time:3hours5min › Ready in:4hours5min
In a small bowl combine 30ml of the water with the sugar and yeast. Whisk until the sugar and yeast dissolve. Let sit until yeast becomes foamy, about 10 minutes. If the yeast does not become foamy, then discard and use another batch.
In a large bowl combine remaining water with yeast mixture and flour. Mix with a fork until all the flour is absorbed. If the mixture is still crumbly, add warm water, a tablespoon at a time, until the dough holds together. The dough should be slightly tacky, not dry.
Knead dough into a ball and place it in the bowl. Cover with a towel and let rest for 20 minutes to give the flour time to absorb the liquid. Add the salt and knead it into the dough.
Flour a clean, dry work surface and knead the dough with your hands for about 10 minutes, rotating the dough in 1/4 turns, until smooth and elastic. The dough is ready when it can be stretched thin enough to see through it.
Lightly oil the bowl and place the dough in the bowl, seam side down. Cover with a towel and let rise in a warm place until it doubles in size, about 45 minutes.
Place the dough on a the lightly floured work surface and shape it into a 20x15 cm rectangle. Fold the longer sides up and inwards. Then fold the shorter sides up as well, placing them on top of the longer folded sides, so that is forms a compact package.
Place the dough back in the bowl, seam side down. Cover with a towel and let rise until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
Place the dough on a lightly floured work surface and cut cut into 3 equal parts. Roll each piece into a 35cm rope, tucking the dough in with your fingers as you roll.
Place the ropes on a baking paper lined rimless baking tray. Lift the paper between the ropes to form pleats and use folded towels to support the sides. Cover with a towel and let rise until doubled in size, about 50 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 240 degrees C. If you have a baking stone, place it on the centre rack of the oven. Place a small baking tin on the rack underneath.
Remove the towels from the sides of the ropes and straighten out the baking paper. Make several slashes with a razor blade or paring knife in each loaf.
Mist the loaves lightly with water. If you use a baking stone, carefully transfer the baking parchment with the baguettes directly onto the baking stone. Otherwise place the baking paper with the baguettes directly on the centre rack of the oven. Pour 125ml water into the baking tin and lightly mist the loaves with water again.
Bake in the preheated oven until dark brown and crisp, about 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and serve warm, or allow to cool before enjoying.