Paul Hollywood-Inspired Easy Artisan French Baguette Recipe
When you desire a bakery shop-quality baguette but but not sure how to start, give this quick and Easy Artisan French Baguette Recipe a try. It’s based upon Paul Hollywood’s own tried and true recipe and is remarkably simple to do, even for a wannabe beginner bread baker like me.
You’ve probably seen me reference elsewhere on Wisconsin Homemaker, that necessity is the mother of invention and this recipe is no different.
It came as a result of my local grocer running out of baguettes—of any kind—like really, go figure—and here I was making a pasta dish that needed such a baguette to finish the meal.
So what to do? Serendipitously, I had been researching recipes for baking other types of bread after mastering this Homemade Bread Recipe. Even so, I still didn’t feel sufficiently confident that I could pull off dinner rolls, ciabatta, and baguettes.
Thus, Paul Hollywood. He and Mary Berry shared their tips and secrets and recipes showcased on the Great British Baking Show, as well as through their Master Classes.
And, it was from this venue I came to understand more fully the baking concepts that I needed to employ in order to make great bread (and pastry)—no matter what kind.
So I took it in hand and decided to try out a version of Paul’s recipe and to see if it would work for this Midwestern gal.
If this recipe has inspired you to bake more bread, be sure to check out Paul Hollywood’s excellent How to Bake Bread Cookbook.
How to Make a French Baguette
As mentioned above, this recipe requires few ingredients including, bread flour, yeast, water, salt and olive oil.
For this recipe, it’s best if you weigh all ingredients for better results using a food scale.
RELATED: Bread Making Tips for Beginners
Machine vs. Hand Kneading
To mix everything together, I used a stand mixer with a dough hook. The time for kneading was approximately 5-7 minutes.
If you were to translate that into hand kneading, you’d be looking at least 10+ minutes of kneading to get the same results.
DID YOU KNOW? Day-old bread can be sliced and toasted for bruschetta, dipping, dried for bread crumbs or made into Tuscan-Style Panzanella Salad.
Square Container vs. Round Bowl
Paul Holliday highly suggests using a square container, since it makes it easier to cut off long strands of dough that will be formed into baguettes.
Using a round bowl, however, you will find yourself overworking the dough, which may in turn make the baguette loaves less light and crusty as you might expect.
RELATED: Bread Baking Tools for Your Home
First Rise Improvise
Right from the start I had to make some tweaks. Since my house is air conditioned during the summer, it is way too cool for rising bread. So I had to come up with a solution and improvise to create a pseudo warm environment ripe for bread rising and proofing.
I had tried out using my oven. I tried adding hot water to a pan and letting my bread rise, as well as preheating it for a minute or so and turning it off. I also tried using the “Microwave Technique” but that, too, became an utter fail.
If your kitchen is warm enough, you can rise your bread dough on a counter, by covering the container with a tea towel. Rise time: 1 hour.
My bread tasted okay using the oven and microwave, but the rise on the dough needed more to be desired. So back to the drawing board.
Then I read about using one’s dryer for rising dough. I grabbed my machine’s shoe dryer rack, which came with the dryer when I bought it.
I thought this would be an excellent way to keep the dough container off the heated drum and allow the dough to rise naturally.
So while the dough was being kneaded by my KitchenAid stand mixer, I heated the dryer on “normal” and “warm” for a minute or so then turned it off. It was ready for the dough.
Note: If you don’t have this item, you could use a shoe box or some other container to place in your dryer once it has warmed up to place the dough container on top of that.
Then, the dough was left to rise in the dryer for one hour.
Prepare Baking Sheets
As an FYI, you will be using these baking sheets for the final proof, as well as baking the baguettes in the oven, so keep that in mind.
Cut the Dough
Once the dough has been released from the container, it was time to cut the dough into equal portions. You can use a knife for this task…
…Or better still a pastry cutter, which does the trick nicely.
Roll the Dough
If you think of how an Artisan French Baguette looks like, it’s long and thin. To get the dough to conform to this shape you need to roll the dough.
The rolling process is just that, a gentle back and forth motion to get the dough to form in long “tube” like rolls.
Some fine bakers lift the sides into the center of the loaf and then do it from the opposite side. What you create is a “seam” running down the middle of the loaf that will be placed face down .
But even more important, the idea isn’t to press down on the rolls, as much as it is to form it into even lengths that will fit on your baking sheets.
And, speaking of baking sheets, you’ll notice that the baguettes are placed on a diagonal, since they are much too long for the baking sheet itself, so by putting them thusly, they fit nicely.
Cooking Tip: For this baguette recipe, you could also use a linen couche to help shape the loaves. Here’s a quick video tutorial how to use one.
Or, you can use a Perforated Non-stick Baguette Pan made to proof (with a layer of parchment paper) and bake at the same time.
The final proof of the dough should be done at room temperature for approximately one hour.
Then, cut slices using a knife or bread lame, on the diagonal, 3-4 times down each loaf followed by a light dusting of flour.
Place baking sheets in a preheated 430 degree F oven to bake–middle rack.
The secret to crusty artisan French baguettes is not only proofing it properly but also adding steam in the oven.
From the image below, you probably can’t see the roaster on the bottom rack, but it’s there with boiling water that had been added to it just prior to adding the loaves to bake.
This is an important step, as baguettes need a moist environment in order to create that crusty outer crust and soft yummy inner crumb.
Allow the baguette loaves to bake for approximately 25 minutes until golden brown. Then remove them from the oven and cool on a rack.
Final Baguette Tips
Baguettes are only good on the day they are baked. So if you have extra loaves, wrap them in aluminum foil or freeze in a plastic bag.
To re-crisp the loaves the next day, you can dip the loaves in cool water and bake in a preheated 450 degree F oven for approximately 10 minutes.
For delicious bread sticks, roll your dough into thin sticks and bake for approximately 15-20 minutes.
For submarine sandwiches, use shorter, wider loaves and bake for approximately the same amount of time.
For more delicious bread recipes, like this Easy Artisan French Baguette Recipe, along with helpful tips and ideas, be sure to check out Wisconsin Homemaker’s Cooking Section.
Easy Artisan French Baguette Recipe
- 500 g unbleached bread flour
- 375 ml water plus more to steam the bread in the oven
- 1 tbsp quick rise yeast (2 full packets of yeast)
- 1 tbsp salt iodized
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- Grease a square or rectangle plastic container with olive oil.
- Using a stand mixer and a large bowl, add the flour first. Then, on one side of the bowl add the yeast and on the other side salt. Begin mixing using a dough hook on low speed and slowly add 1/2 of the water. Mix for 1 minute.
- Then add the remaining water and continue mixing the dough on slow speed for approximately 5 minutes. The dough will be “wet” and very pliable.
- Place the dough in the prepared square/rectangle plastic container and make sure all sides of dough have been greased with olive oil. Cover container with a tea towel. Allow dough to rise for approximately 1 hour. Dough should be doubled in size.
- Meanwhile, prepare 2 baking sheets by using either a Silpat or by greasing the baking sheets with olive oil and covering them with a sheet of baking parchment paper. Press the parchment into the base and corners of each baking sheet. Set aside.
- When the dough has risen, doubled in size, prepare your counter by lightly greasing the surface with olive oil. Carefully slide the dough out of the container and using a knife or a pastry cutter, slice the dough into 4 even portions.
- Take one portion at a time, flatten slightly and then fold the dough in on itself to the middle. Do the same thing with the other side of the dough and roll, using the heel of your palms gently, rolling the loaf back and forth to form long oblong loaves.
- When you have done this, place 2 rolled loaves onto each baking sheet on the diagonal and cover completely with plastic wrap to proof approximately for 1 hour at room temperature. The dough should be slightly springy to the touch and doubled in size.
- While the dough is proofing, place a roasting pan on the bottom rack of the oven and preheat your oven to 430 degrees F.
- After 1 hour, remove the plastic wrap and take a sharp knife or a bread lame and slice across each loaf, spacing equally on the diagonal, 3-4 times. Then using a small sifter, lightly dust bread flour along the length of each loaf. Set aside.
- Boil 2 quarts of water and place the hot water into the roasting pan that’s been preheating in the oven.
- Finally, place the baking sheets into the oven (middle rack of the oveand bake for approximately 25 minutes or until the loaves are golden brown.
- Remove from the oven and cool the loaves directly on a rack. Enjoy!