How to Make a Perfect Baguette at Home

Food52 shows you how to put your neighborhood bakery to shame, while making your apartment smell like Paris.

All photos courtesy of Food52

All photos courtesy of Food52

Here’s a scenario you may be familiar with: You’re hosting a dinner party, you need some baguettes, you walk into a grocery store and walk out with stale, sub-par loaves that a true boulanger would scoff at. Food52 has a tried-and-true way to dodge this predicament: Roll up your sleeves and bake your own.

The recipe below comes from Dan Leader, founder of the Bread Alone bakery, and was developed to be made at home with ingredients and equipment most at-home cooks already have.

DAN LEADER’S 4-HOUR BAGUETTE

Makes 3 baguettes

Ingredients

  • 1½ cups (12 ounces) tap water, heated to 115° F
  • 1 teaspoon (⅛ ounces) active dry yeast
  • 3¼ cups (14⅔ ounces) all–purpose flour
  • 3 teaspoons (⅜ ounces) Diamond Crystal kosher salt
  • Canola oil, for greasing bowl
  • ½ cup ice cubes

Instructions

1. Whisk together water and yeast in a large bowl; let sit until yeast is foamy, about 10 minutes. Add flour, and stir with a fork until dough forms and all flour is absorbed; let dough sit to allow flour to hydrate, about 20 minutes. Add salt, then transfer dough to a lightly floured work surface, and knead until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes.

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2. Transfer dough ball to a lightly greased bowl, cover bowl with plastic wrap, and place bowl in a cold oven or microwave. Let dough rest until doubled in size, about 45 minutes.

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3. Transfer dough to a lightly floured work surface, and shape into an 8-inch x 6-inch rectangle. Fold the 8-inch sides toward the middle, then fold the shorter sides toward the center, like a T-shirt. Return dough, seam side down, to the bowl. Cover with plastic again, and return to oven. Let sit until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

4. Remove bowl with dough from oven, and place a cast–iron skillet on the bottom rack of oven; position another rack above skillet, and place a baking stone or upside down or rimless sheet pan on it.

5. Heat oven to 475° F. Transfer dough to a lightly floured work surface, and cut into three equal pieces; shape each piece into a 14-inch rope. Flour a sheet of parchment paper on a rimless baking sheet; place ropes, evenly spaced, on paper. Lift paper between ropes to form pleats; place two tightly rolled kitchen towels under long edges of paper, creating supports for the loaves. Cover loosely with plastic wrap; let sit until it doubles in size, about 50 minutes.

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6. Uncover; remove towels, and flatten paper to space out loaves. Using a sharp razor, knife, bread lame, or scissors, slash the top of each baguette at a 30–degree angle in four spots; each slash should be about 4 inches long. Pull out the oven rack with the stone or baking sheet on it and, using the corner of the parchment paper as a guide, slide the loaves, still on the parchment paper, onto the baking stone or pan. Place ice cubes in skillet (this produces steam that lets the loaves rise fully before a crust forms). Bake the baguettes until darkly browned and crisp, 20 to 30 minutes; cool before serving.

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This article and recipe originally appeared on Food52.

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