Oh man! There is something so satisfying about biting into a delectably crunchy baguette. I’ve always thought of baguettes as a special treat; maybe it stems from my childhood love of French bread pizzas and bakery garlic breads which were not regular items in my house.
When I first saw this recipe in my King Arthur Flour Baker’s Companion Cookbook, I will admit, I was intimidated. Making a starter, spraying dough with water… it seemed overly complicated to me. But really, it’s more time consuming than it is difficult and you feel like a real fancy pants baker afterwards. Plus, you know, you get awesomely delicious baguettes out of your effort.
The original recipe is for classic baguettes. I’ve modified it a bit over the years to my taste. If you want a classic baguette, then just omit the garlic powder and turmeric. I don’t know if I bake anything any more without using a couple of different types of flour, but you are just fine using only all purpose flour. I find that using pastry flour in this recipe gives the dough a little added elasticity making it easier to handle.
As I mentioned, this recipe takes time. Your starter will rise overnight, plus the rests and long rising time for the dough. Thus, this is not a recipe you are going to spontaneously make, but only requires minimal advance planning. You will also need a food-safe spray bottle to spray the loaves evenly with warm water before baking.
If you try out this recipe, I would love to hear about it. Happy baking!
Garlic Turmeric Baguettes
1 ¼ cups all purpose flour
2/3 cup cool water
1/8 teaspoon instant yeast
1½ cups all purpose flour
1 cup pastry flour
1½ teaspoons instant yeast
2 teaspoons salt
½ teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon garlic powder
2/3 cup cool water
In a medium-sized bowl, combine all the starter ingredients and mix until just blended. Cover loosely with cloth napkin or similar and let rise for about 12 hours. I let mine rise overnight. It should have a spongy appearance.
In the bowl of your stand mixer, mix the flours, yeast, salt, and spices. Add the starter and water and using the dough hook attachment, mix about 30 seconds, dough will just be cohesive. Cover with cloth napkin and allow to rest for 20 minutes. The flour will absorb the liquid during this time and be easier to knead.
Knead the dough until it’s fully cohesive, elastic and still a little rough looking. You don’t knead baguette dough as much as a regular loaf because the gluten in baguettes develops during the super long rising time.
Place dough ball into a lightly oiled bowl, loosely cover, and place in a draft free area. Allow to rise for one hour, then deflate it, fold it in half, cover, and let it rise another hour. Folding the dough strengthens the gluten; if your dough is wet, you may want to fold it more than once during this rising time. Don’t panic if you forget to deflate and fold; I’ve probably forgotten this step a third of time I’ve made baguettes.
Divide the dough into 3 roughly equal pieces, form them into logs, and let them rest for 20 minutes. Shape them by rolling into thin baguettes about 14 inches long. Place on lightly greased baking sheet, cover, and allow to rise for 30 to 40 minutes. The original recipe suggests a fancy baguette pan and greased plastic wrap, but you’re just fine without those things. In fact, I prefer cloth napkins to cover instead of plastic wrap as it’s less messy and wasteful and easier to work with.
Preheat your oven to 500°F. Just before you place the baguettes in the oven, using a sharp, serrated knife, make four angled cuts on each loaf about ¼ inch deep. Try to be quick otherwise the knife sticks to the dough. Don’t get hung up trying to do this part perfectly. I lack a sharp knife and sometimes my cuts are deeper than others, and often my knife catches the dough, but always the baguettes are delicious.
Spray the loaves generously with warm water. The water creates a steam oven effect and that is what gives baguettes their lovely crunch. Place the loaves in the oven. Reduce the heat to 475°F and bake 20 minutes, loaves should be golden in color. Place on wire rack and allow to cool completely before cutting into them. This will be a test of your will power as your kitchen will smell amazing and you will want to eat them immediately! However, before they’ve cooled, baguettes still contain moisture and if you cut into them, the area you cut will have a gummy texture.