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Sep 16, 2014

Classic French Bread | Tuesdays with Dorie

Classic French Bread: Karen's Kitchen Stories

Baguettes.... I am a fairly confident home bread baker, except when it comes to baking those round baguettes with the beautifully angled slashes. My baguettes have gone flat when I slash them or they curl up in the oven, either from my lack of skills in transferring the loaves to the oven, or just because they decide to. On their own.

Classic French Bread: Karen's Kitchen Stories

When the Tuesdays with Dorie group chose this bread to make today, I was definitely up for another chance at working on my baguette/batard skills.

This recipe is from the book, Baking with Julia: Savor the Joys of Baking with America's Best Bakers.

Did you know that there are (or were) laws in France that you cannot open up a freshly baked loaf of bread for at least 20 minutes after it is removed from the oven? Did you know that a baguette in France can only have four ingredients? Flour, water, yeast, and salt.

(Full disclosure: Technically, these loaves are batards, not baguettes.)

Classic French Bread: Karen's Kitchen Stories

Equipment I used:

Stand mixer (kneading by hand requires 850 turns!)
Kitchen scale
Dough scraper
Pizza peel
Baking stone
Linen cloth (couche) for cradling the rising loaves
Flipping boards (I used two flipping boards to move the loaves from the couche to the peel. I used the cloth to roll the loaf onto one board, seam side down. Then I rolled it onto the other board, seam side up. Next I rolled it onto the peel, seam side down. I know, I know. But it works for me. You can just flip the loaves directly onto the peel, but for me, that results in serpentine loaves.)

I'm pretty happy with these baguettes with the exception of the slashes. For one thing, they are round!!! The slashes need a lot of work, but fortunately, this bread tastes so amazing that I will definitely be attempting this again. I was able to make them in an afternoon, and the crust crackles away when you remove them from the oven.

If you are so inclined, here is the world tour of my other baguette attempts (that I was willing to publish):

Classic French Bread

Although I have tried to describe the process for shaping and baking these loaves, I urge you to watch the video of Julia with Danielle Forestier baking this bread. It's also such a joy to watch Julia Child kneading the dough. Also, the visual of Danielle Forestier waving around a totally bent baguette cracked me up. 


1 pound, 6.5 ounces bread flour
2 cups cool water (about 78 degrees F)
2 tsp instant yeast
2 1/2 tsp salt


  1. Add the flour and water to the bowl of a stand mixer and mix on low with the dough hook for 3 to 4 minutes, until you have a shaggy mass of dough. Cover the bowl with plastic and let it rest for about 20 minutes
  2. Add the yeast and mix for about a minute. 
  3. Add the salt and mix on low for another minute or two.
  4. Increase the speed to medium, and mix for about 5 minutes. You should have a smooth dough that clears the sides of the bowl. The dough will be slightly sticky. 
  5. Turn the dough out onto a slightly floured surface, and hand knead for another couple of minutes. 
  6. Form the dough into a tight ball and cover with oiled plastic wrap to rest for 15 minutes. 
  7. Form the dough into another ball by doing a long "stretch and fold" of the dough from all four "sides" of the dough. 
  8. Place the dough ball, seam side down, into a greased bowl or dough rising bucket. Cover and let it nearly double in size. This could take from 60 to 120 minutes, depending on the temperature in the room. 
  9. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured counter and slap it down with the palms of your hands. 
  10. Using a scale to weigh the dough, cut the dough into three equal pieces, about 13 ounces each. Form each piece into a ball, and cover with the oiled plastic wrap to rest for 5 minutes. 
  11. Heavily flour a couche or a cotton towel (the batards will rise between folds) and set it aside. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F with a baking stone in the middle of the oven and a broiler pan on the lowest rung. 
  12. To form the batards, turn a dough ball over so that the seam side is up. Press it down. Fold it into thirds, and press it down. Repeat two more times. 
  13. Mark the center of the dough with the side of your hand, and fold the dough from each "side" into the center and seal with the side of your hand. Then roll the dough back and forth on the counter until it is about 14 inches long. Taper the ends. 
  14. Place each batard, seam side up, onto the floured towel or linen couche, and pleat the fabric between the loaves. Fold the end of the fabric over the loaves and let rise until puffy, about 45 minutes to 2 hours. They are ready when the dough barely springs back when poked with a finger. 
  15. Line a peel with heavy duty parchment paper. When the loaves are ready, move them to the parchment, seam side down, and score them with three angled vertical slashes. 
  16. Drag the parchment, loaves and all, onto the baking stone. Pour the water into the broiler pan, and close the oven door. Lower the temperature to 425 degrees F. 
  17. Bake for 20 minutes. If the loaves are not brown enough, bake for another 5 minutes. I turned on the convection feature for the last 5 minutes. The internal temperature of the loaves should be around 200 degrees F. 
  18. Cool completely on a wire rack before slicing. 
This bread has been Yeastspotted.

Would you like to comment?

  1. Beautifully done! I would not have noticed that your slashes were anything less than perfect without you mentioning them...I'm thinking mine would be craters!!!

  2. Yeah! We succeeded at making French bread! I used the mixer too! 800+ turns... no thank you. Great work and beautiful results!

  3. They look beautiful. Wonderful holes in the crumb.

  4. The French have so many rules! No wonder their food is so good. :) Great job on your batards! They look really pretty.

  5. It looks like you succeeded in making these to me! They look lovely and delicious. I haven't had a chance yet, but want to make these soon, especially seeing everyone's results. And Andy is a bread man to say the very least - he'll love these.

    1. Thanks so much Cathy. Baguettes are always the loaves I have so much trouble with. The darn slashing!

  6. Slashes are my nemesis...
    Your loaves came out beautifully - great crumb!

  7. What type of knife are you using to slash your dough? and why can't we post pictures here?
    Great site


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