The baguette is the bread par excellence of the French tradition: so good and famous that it has been an Intangible Heritage of Humanity since 2022, well protected by Unesco. But how do you make the baguette? Can it be prepared at home? Absolutely yes!
Baguette means “stick”; in fact, it stands out for its typical elongated, golden shape, with a crunchy crust engraved with oblique furrows, a soft and alveolar crumb.
A bread that lends itself well to accompanying meat and fish dishes, to be stuffed with cheeses and cured meats for delicious sandwiches, or cut into slices to be spread with paté, butter, jam, honey or chocolate cream, for a classic breakfast . Your mouth is watering already, right?
How to make baguette
You don’t need to go into a typical boulangerie. We also find the baguette from our bakers, sometimes with the name of “sfilatino”, “filoncino” or “Parisian”; and, with a little dedication, we can also make it at home.
The baguette has a simple basic dough: flour, water, brewer’s yeast or sourdough and salt. However, it requires time and several steps for leavening.
The night before, start preparing the poolish or biga, fermented doughs to which the other ingredients are added.
The poolish has shorter fermentation times, favors a smaller and more regular alveolation, greater crunchiness and aroma. If you prefer, always with a poolish base, you can prepare a gluten-free baguette suitable for those suffering from celiac disease, according to Tipsforwomens’s proposal. If, on the other hand, you want to follow the traditional French recipe, here is preparation and cooking.
The baguette recipe
For the poolish
- 150 g farina 0
- 150ml water
- 3 g fresh brewer’s yeast
Ingredients and dough
- 750 g farina 0
- 3 g dry brewer’s yeast
- ½ teaspoon of honey
- 500ml water
- Prepare the poolish. Dissolve the fresh brewer’s yeast in water at room temperature and pour everything into a bowl with the 0 flour. Mix with a fork for a few minutes until the dough is smooth, then cover with plastic wrap and let it rest for about ten of hours at about 20°. You’ll know the poolish is ready when it starts dimpling on the surface.
- Now proceed to the dough. In the bowl with the ready poolish, add the flour 0, the dry brewer’s yeast, the half teaspoon of honey, the water at room temperature. You can decide to mix everything by hand or with the help of a low speed planetary mixer. When the mixture is compacting, add the salt and possibly a few spoonfuls of water (one at a time, if necessary) and mix until the mixture comes together, i.e. it is elastic and detaches from the sides.
- The dough will thus be a nice smooth ball. Add another spoonful of water on top (to soften it), cover with plastic wrap and let it rise until it almost doubles in volume – about a couple of hours, always around 20°.
- After the time, prepare the floured work surface and transfer the dough. Spreading it with your hands, try to give it the shape of a square, fold it into a wallet to obtain a rectangle and let it rest for at least half an hour covered with a cloth. Then divide the rectangle into equal pieces, weighing around 300 g each (you’ll need to be able to create 4 or 5).
- Work each piece on the surface trying to round it, also making it turn in your hands (pirlarlo): the round shape is used by the dough to grow in a regular way.
- Using the rolling pin, give the loaves an oval shape, without pressing too hard so as not to deflate them. Roll each oval delicately trying to obtain a variable length between 25 and 40 cm, with at least 5 cm in width and the same (or even less) in height.
- Now wrap them in a floured tea towel, tightly, with folds of fabric between one and the other and with the closure at the top, or in the baguette container. Cover everything again with plastic wrap and let it rest and rise for at least 45 minutes.
- After the necessary time, take the loaves and, gently with a sharp knife, make 4-5 oblique cuts on the surface.
- Now it’s time for cooking. Turn on the oven and preheat to 220° in static mode. Insert a bowl of water into the bottom. When the oven has reached temperature, remove the bowl and insert the baguettes. They should be cooked in this way: the first 15 minutes on the bottom shelf; the second 15 minutes on the medium shelf; lowering the temperature to 200°; the last 5 minutes on the top shelf, to make the crust turn golden.
- When the baguettes are golden brown (not burnt), remove them immediately from the oven and let them rest for at least 10-15 minutes on a wire rack before cutting or consuming them.
Calories and properties
Bread is a healthy food, essential in a balanced diet and the baguette, made with a few simple ingredients, is excellent for a healthy and balanced diet. To be consumed in moderation in slimming diets and for those suffering from diabetes and hypertension; prohibited, however, for those intolerant to gluten.
A portion, according to our recipe, provides about 250 kcal or a little more. Most of them supplied by carbohydrates, nutrients that the body needs, a source of energy for our physical activities but also for the brain. It contains no fat but small amounts of protein that help build some of the proteins in the body, including enzymes, muscles and hormones.
The baguette is rich in sodium, the enemy of high blood pressure, so it is necessary to limit the use of this salt in other foods. It also contains vitamins C, B6, D and mineral salts such as iron, magnesium and calcium.
For our recipe we used 0 flour, but you can also choose to use 1, 00 or a mix of flours. Manitoba flour is also recommended, which is an ideal and “strong” ingredient for very long leavening preparations.
Baguette, an iconic French recipe
This bread is one of the most baked in the world despite having a fairly recent history. It all began in the mid-nineteenth century in Vienna, when steam ovens began to be used which allowed faster cooking and the formation of a crispy crust. And it is precisely from the Austrian capital that the baker August Zang left in 1839 to bring his production to France. He opened a bakery in Paris, where he baked oval and very crunchy loaves that he gradually transformed into long, narrow loaves.
But the French legends about the origin of baguettes are varied and claim authorship. There are those who claim that it was Napoleon who commissioned bakers to make bread that was lighter and easier for his soldiers to put in their pockets. Others recount that during the construction of the Paris metro, many workers fought with knives to such an extent that the contractors of the works ordered that a loaf of bread be baked for the workers to be broken without a blade.
A more credible source is the 1920 law protecting the grueling work of bakers (Marx called them “white miners”), which turned the tables: it forbade them to work before 4:00. This change started the real production of baguettes, which could be prepared and baked much faster than the heavy 1-2 kg loaves, thus guaranteeing a warm and crunchy breakfast for customers despite the reduction in night work.
The urban demand of the wealthy also had a particular influence, as they always wanted fresh bread. This demand greatly influenced the increase in baguette production.