Few things are as satisfying as a warm, crusty baguette fresh out of the oven. Whether you’re a professional baker or just starting out, mastering the art of baguette making can be a challenging but rewarding endeavor. In this post, we’ll share some of our top tips and tricks for making perfect baguettes every time.
Tip #1: Use High-Quality Ingredients
The key to making great baguettes is using high-quality ingredients. Use bread flour that has a high protein content and good gluten development, such as King Arthur or Bob’s Red Mill. The quality of your flour will affect the texture and flavor of your baguettes, so it’s worth investing in a good brand.
Tip #2: Autolyse Your Dough
Autolyse is a process that involves mixing flour and water and letting it rest for a period of time before adding yeast and salt. This allows the gluten to develop, resulting in a better texture and flavor. To autolyse your dough, simply mix the flour and water together and let it rest for 30 minutes before adding the yeast and salt.
Tip #3: Use a Starter
Using a sourdough starter can add flavor and depth to your baguettes. You can either make your own starter or purchase one from a specialty store. Simply mix the starter with your flour and water and let it ferment overnight before shaping and baking.
Tip #4: Shape Your Dough Correctly
Shaping your dough is crucial to achieving the classic baguette shape. To shape your dough, gently flatten it into a rectangle and fold the top third of the dough down to the center. Repeat with the bottom third of the dough and seal the seam with your fingers. Roll the dough out gently to create a long, thin baguette shape.
Tip #5: Score Your Dough
Scoring your dough before baking allows it to expand and rise properly, resulting in a light and airy texture. Use a sharp knife or razor blade to make shallow cuts along the top of the dough in a diagonal pattern.
Tip #6: Use the Right Baking Equipment
To achieve a crispy crust and tender crumb, it’s important to use the right baking equipment. A baking stone or steel and a steam pan can help create the perfect environment for your baguettes to bake in. Preheat your oven to 475°F and place the baking stone or steel on the middle rack. Place the steam pan on the bottom rack and add boiling water to it just before adding your baguettes to the oven.