The French Baguette is a symbol of France that is recognizable world wide. Long loaves of bread can be dated back to the 17th century, loaves as long as two meters could be seen carefully carried home from the boulangeries. Although, this loaf wasn't quite the baguette we know today.
The modern Baguette arose from two distinct things that happened around the same time period : First there was a turning point for french bakers with the invention of the deck oven. This oven is capable of injecting steam to achieve crisp and shiny crusts. And second, a law was passed that bakers were not allowed to start work before 4 in the morning.
So, being unable to bake the traditional breakfast boule in time for breakfast because of the long cook times, the bakers decided to roll the bread into a longer loaf. A long, thin bread will cook much faster and with the injection of steam, the modern baguette was created.
The baguette is made from a lean dough - this means that there is no addition of oil or fat. Th dough is made from water, flour and yeast and stales quickly because of the simplicity of its ingredients. The baguette is best fresh out of he oven and eaten the day it is baked.
50g Warm Water
5g Active Dry Yeast
500g Bread Flour
2 tsp Kosher Salt
260g Warm Water
* This will make 2, 30 -40 cm Baguettes
1. Bloom the yeast in 50g of warm water. Allow to sit for 10 minutes or so. It should be foamy and bubbling when it is ready.
2. Put the Flour, Water and Salt into the yeast mixture. Using a dough hook on a stand up mixer, mix on low speed for 5 minutes until the dough comes together, then mix on medium speed for 10 minutes.
3. Transfer the dough to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise 1 hour, or until doubled in size.
4. When the dough has doubled, punch it down and split it into 2 equal portions and shape your dough. The video below will explain how to do this :)
5. After shaping the dough and placing it on the baking racks, cover it plastic wrap or a large garbage bag and allow it to rise again. Again, this will be about 1 hour or until it has doubled in size.
6. To bake your baguette, set your oven to 400 Celcius, and place a metal container with water inside the oven. The water will create steam that will give your bread a crisp crust
7. Just before the bread go into the oven, slice the top of the loaf with 3 even slashes. I use a razor blade or X-Acto knife for this.
8. Bake your bread for 18-20 minutes.