For homemade French Bread in 2.5 hours, with no other fancy baguette equipment, this is the easiest and fastest recipe.
THE RAMBLE: WINNER FOR TEAM SPAIN!
LET’S TALK ABOUT France and French Bread. Ok, I really should’t say this is from France or even really traditional French Bread. I’m sure you would be yelling at me right now if you are in France or any other European country that makes delicious, 24 hour, perfect-crust and crumb baguette. I’ve seen and read how to make that glorious loaf, and it takes a lot of time and you need the baguette pan and curved razor. I don’t really have any of those things. I completely understand, respect, and even try to mimic the French philosophy and attitude of skill and food. Good enough isn’t good enough, and if we can make it perfect or even better, then we must. I am right there with them, BUT I have 3 babies to take care of while my husband is in law school with very little time, space and/or patience at this time in my life, so this is the best recipe I have for the resources I have. And it is still pretty awesome, even if it is not exactly the same chewy crusted, perfect crumbed baguettes as those cute panaderías in Spain I would visit, or the amazing bread that is no doubt in French boulangeries. America’s Test Kitchen, of course, has a legit baguette recipe on their website or recipe book, and I also love The Fresh Loaf for my artisan bread questions, from baguette to ciabatta to seed loaves. I learned all the great crust and crumb tricks there and it will definitely make you a bread snob. Such a great site. See, this is what we will get to someday (from Habitually Chic):
LET’S TALK ABOUT this recipe. As you can see above, traditional, amazing baguettes have slashes that are curved from a curved baguette razor, it’s round all around, and the crust is a deep golden brown. This recipe from King Arthur Flour, ATK‘s favorite flour, gets it’s beautiful color from an egg wash. I’m pretty sure that European baguettes get their color from a wonderful industrial-sized oven with the perfect amount of steam and heat, but we use egg wash in this recipe. Basically, from what I’ve learned from The Fresh Loaf, time and temperature are what create the chew of the crust and the crumb of the bread. Key is a 24-hour proofed/rested dough with the proper ratio of flour and water that has developed deep flavor, then kneaded the correct amount and time, then baked low and slow in steam to a chewy-crisp crust with fluffy, air-bubbly crumb; the ideal. Ciabatta is almost an opposite technique. Lots of water in the dough, baked in flat rectangles at high heat. And so you see the chemistry of bread. So, like I said, this is kind of a short-cut recipe, but I do not want to dim the result. I still LOVE this recipe and it is great for gifts and has impressed everyone I have given too. I make it for all my European meals and it makes great crostini and is great for tapas. I don’t have a baguette pan or baker’s couche, so my baguettes are flat on the bottom. Maybe not as pretty, but the result is amazing for the time it takes!
I have a Ninja Mega Kitchen System that is a smoothie blender, standard blender, and food processor all using one base. It comes with a dough blade and a metal blade for the food processor, which is great, BUT there is no feed tube for the processor, just on the blender. I just have to stop processing and take off the lid every few spins, but everything from bread dough to pie crust has worked out just fine. So, it’s a great value (about $130), but I do love the classic Cuisineart type of processor the best.
WHO YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT making great bread: America’s Test Kitchen @TestKitchen, King Arthur Flour @KingArthurFlour, The Fresh Loaf, Jacques Pépin @jacques_pepin, Baked by Rachel @bakedbyrachel, The Sourdough School @SourdoughClub
Food Processor French Bread and Rosemary Sea Salt Toasts
Adapted from King Arthur Flour, makes 4 baguettes, medium level effort, hands on time 20 mins, 2.5 hour total. Make sure you’re food processor is large enough to hold at least a 7-8 cup capacity, or cut recipe in half.
1 1/2 TBS (14 g) active dry/instant rise yeast
1/2 cup (113 g) lukewarm water (~110-115 degrees F)
1 tsp sugar
6 cups (723 g) King Arthur Unbleached AP flour
2 tsp salt
2 cups (454 g) lukewarm water (~90 degrees F)
1 heaping cup ice cubes
1 large egg, beaten with 1 TBS cold water
- In a glass measuring cup or small bowl, mix yeast ingredients together. Meanwhile, add flour and salt to a food processor fitted with a dough/plastic blade (ideal) and pulse 4 times to sift flour.
- With the machine running, add the yeast mixture to the flour, then add the lukewarm water gradually as the flour absorbs it. As soon as the water has been absorbed, turn off the processor and just pulse 7 or 8 times until a ball forms. Look at the corners of the processor bowl. If there is remaining flour, the dough needs a little more water, add only a scant TBS at a time while only until it is absorbed into the ball. If it the dough clings to the sides, it is too wet, add about a scant TBS of flour while only pulsing.
- Once the ball forms, we begin to knead the dough. For a dough/plastic blade, turn the processor on dough and run for 60 seconds (yes, time it!). For a metal blade, run for 45 seconds, then remove dough from processor and hand knead for 3-4 minutes by hand.
- Oil a large mixing bowl and place the dough, in a ball, into the bowl. Rotate the dough in the bowl unto the ball is evenly oiled. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise 1 hour in a warm place, if possible, or let rest in fridge overnight for a make-ahead option (gives better flavor, too!).
- Meanwhile, prepare your couche, or grease a baguette pan, flat sheet pan, or line sheet pan with parchment paper.
- After an hour and the dough is puffy, divide the dough into 4 pieces. On a floured surface, roll each piece of dough into an oval about 15″ by 8″. Starting on the long side closest to you, roll the dough into a cylinder, the ends evenly tapered. Pinch all the seams into the loaf, then pinch the ends together.
- Place your baguette seam side down onto your prepared baking vessel. Leave about 4″ in between loaves. Place an oiled piece of plastic wrap over the loaves and let rise another 45 minutes.
- In the last 10 minutes of rising, place a shallow metal pan on the bottom of the oven, and preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
- Slash the baguettes with a razor or sharp paring knife, then coat with egg wash evenly over entire exposed surface.
- With ice cubes handy, place baguettes into oven, then quickly add ice cubes to metal pan and shut the oven door to preserve the steam. Bake for 20 minutes, or until the bread reaches 190 degrees F on a meat thermometer. Let cool on a baking rack. Can be stores in plastic wrap for 2 days or frozen for 3 months.
Rosemary Sea Salt Toasts:
- Slice the baguette on a bias. Slather both sides with olive oil. Toast slices under a low broiler until crispy and golden brown, about 1-2 minutes, watching the entire time to not get too dark! Remove from oven. With tongs, turn the slices over. Top with Maldon Salt flakes (ideal salt) and crushed dried rosemary. Place back under the broiler another 30 seconds-1 minute. Remove from oven, let cool a few minutes, and enjoy as a delicious snack or with dinner.