In culinary school, having access to homemade baguettes completely ruined me, or rather, set a high bar for what the ultimate French bread should taste like. Nothing compares to the thin, crackly crust of a good baguette! However, baguettes can be tricky to make and take a bit of practice. For this recipe, I’ve skipped the traditional shaping, resting, and scoring method to make them more approachable for every day. In my humble opinion, they’re just as delicious.
About the Dough: For extra flavor, white whole wheat flour is added for a hint of mild sweetness. After the dough is shaped, it does not need a long second rise; 10 to 15 minutes is sufficient. Fresh thyme is pressed into the dough for a subtle, earthy flavor.
- Yield: 3 Small Baguettes
- ¼ cup (50 g) bubbly, active starter
- 1½ cups plus 1 tsp (360 g) cool water
- 30.33 cups (400 g) all-purpose flour
- 0.33 cup (40 g) white whole wheat flour
- 1½ tsp (9 g) fine sea salt
- 6 thyme sprigs, leaves picked
- A few days before baking, feed your starter until bubbly and active. Store at room temperature until ready to use. Make the Dough
- In the evening, whisk the starter and water together in a large bowl with a fork. Add the flours and salt. Mix to combine, then finish by hand to form a rough dough. Cover the bowl with a damp towel and let rest for 30 minutes. Replenish your starter with fresh flour and water, and store according to preference.
- After the dough has rested, gently work the mass into a semi-smooth ball, about 1 minute. Bulk Rise
- Cover the bowl with a damp towel and let the dough rise overnight. This will take about 12 to 18 hours at room temperature, 70°F (21°C). The dough will double or triple in size when ready. Divide
- In the morning, remove the dough onto a heavily floured work surface. With floured hands, fold the dough in half like a book. Cover and let rest for 10 to 15 minutes or more, until it the dough is relaxed enough to shape. Meanwhile, line a sheet pan with parchment paper and dust with flour. Preheat your oven to 450°F (230°C).
- Sprinkle the dough with flour. Cut the dough horizontally into 3 equal portions using a bench scraper dipped in water to prevent sticking. Working in batches, gently roll the dough over, about 1 to 2 times to coat in the excess flour. Shape
- To shape, lift up the dough and stretch gently to fit the long end of your sheet pan. Then twist the dough into a log, starting at the top and working your way to the bottom. The shape does not need to resemble a perfect corkscrew—a rustic-style design is what you’re aiming for. Sprinkle some of the thyme leaves over the dough, pressing gently to adhere. Repeat with the remaining portions of dough. Second Rise
- Cover the dough with a damp towel and let rest for 10 to 15 minutes. The dough will not puff up very much during this stage. Bake
- Place the sheet pan into the oven and reduce the heat to 425°F (220°C). Bake the baguettes for 30 to 35 minutes, until deep golden brown. Transfer to a wire rack and cool for 30 minutes before slicing.
- Baguettes are best consumed fresh, as they tend to go stale quickly. Serve warm or share with the neighbors.