Take your bread baking game to the next level with this recipe for French baguettes from Chef Gildas Berrou at Gildas’ Lake Street Bakery, formerly Boyne City Bakery.
Born and raised in Quimper, France, Chef Gildas Berrou of Gildas’ Lake Street Bakery, formerly Boyne City Bakery, began his education as a boulanger at the age of 16, and he’s been baking scrumptious breads, crêpes and croissants ever since. He shares with us his secrets for crafting the perfect French baguette (just the thing for dipping in a homemade soup, adding to a charcuterie board or eating on its own).
French Baguette Recipe by Gildas Berrou
Yields 5 Baguettes
- 1 kilogram all-purpose flour, unbleached and unbromated (King Arthur brand “Sir Galahad” works best)
- 700 grams cold water
- 15-20 grams fresh yeast (7-10 grams dry yeast can be substituted)
- 20 grams salt
As this is a French recipe, we’re keeping it authentic and using the metric system. If you’re interested in converting the measurements, check out these charts.
Mix flour, water and yeast in a mixing bowl until incorporated. Add salt and mix for 5 or 6 minutes on low speed (if using Kitchen-Aid, mix 8 minutes on second speed). Let rise in bowl for 1 hour, covering bowl with damp flour-sack cloth if the air is dry. Remove dough from bowl, fold the ball of dough and return to bowl to rise for one more hour. Remove from bowl and cut into 350 gram loaves. Let loaves sit 20 minutes.
Fold the loaves into a baguette shape, pressing from the middle out to the ends with your palm to stretch the loaf into shape. Tip: Some light “rolling” may help, but folding and pressing is best, leaving the seam from the last fold on the bottom of the baguette. This technique helps to control where the dough splits, if it splits at all, during the baking process. Let baguettes rise 60–90 minutes.* Score with a bread blade/razor blade on top of each baguette (this, too, is part of controlling where the bread splits). Bake 20 minutes at 475°F until golden brown, and place on cooling rack.**
*Instead of letting rise at this stage, the baguettes can be placed in the refrigerator overnight to be baked in the morning—this will also improve the flavor and texture.
**To achieve a “crunchy” outer layer, place a tray of water on the bottom rack of your oven to create an effect similar to a professional steam-injection oven. You may also want to mist the dough with a spray bottle of water at the beginning of the baking process.
Pro Tips for Making Baguettes
- Humidity is very important to your bread making and baking success. Watch the weather closely and adjust your methods accordingly. For example, you may not need to cover the dough with a damp cloth during the rising process in warm and humid weather, but will need to do so in the cold and dry winter months. Similarly, you may want to use closer to 15 grams of yeast in the summer and 20 grams in the winter.
- Place extra baguettes in the freezer until needed. The sooner you freeze them, the fresher they are when taken out.
More Bread Recipes: Click to find recipes for Easy “No Knead” Bread, Irish Brown Bread, Morel Thyme Bread and more.
Find this and more food and drink articles in the November 2020 issue of Traverse, Northern Michigan’s Magazine; or subscribe and get Traverse delivered to your door each month.