When it comes to bread making, I defer to the experts. That doesn’t mean I don’t vet the recipe and try to make it a bit easier for myself, or anyone who would love to make a loaf or three. In my quest to find the easiest and the most user-friendly recipe for making French baguettes, I landed on this one by Suzanne Dunaway in “No Knead To Knead Bread.”
This is an awesome recipe for French baguettes; one anyone can make. The best part is all you need is a bit of patience and four ingredients. In fact, I loved this No-Knead French Baguette recipe so much I’ll be trying a few more in her book.
No-Knead French Baguettes
- 5 cups unbleached all-purpose bread flour
- 2 cups lukewarm water
- 2 tbsp. active dry yeast
- 3 tsp. Kosher salt
First Stage – Pour lukewarm water (100° F) into a large mixing bowl. Sprinkle the yeast on the water and stir until dissolved. Add two cups of flour and briskly stir until smooth. Add the remaining 3 cups of flour and salt. Stir with a wooden spoon or dough hook. As the dough stiffens, continue to beat until the flour is completely incorporated, and the dough starts to pull away in ragged strands from the sides of the bowl. This will take about five minutes. The dough should appear a bit rustic and somewhat smooth.
If the dough is still a bit too wet, stir in additional flour a little at a time until you’ve reached the desired consistency.
Second Stage – There are two ways to prepare this bread dough. Choose the one that works best for you.
- Overnight Method (My favorite way to make this bread.) – After stage one, cover the bowl and refrigerate overnight allowing the dough to rise. The next day, remove the bowl from the refrigerator at least two hours prior to shaping. Leave it covered and allow the dough to come to room temperature; in this time it will rise for a second time. Next, move to shaping the loaves for baking.
- Same Day Method – Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough rise until it’s doubled in volume, about 30-40 minutes. Using a scraper, fold the dough over on itself 3 times and then let the dough rise a second time until doubled in size, about 30 to 40 minutes. Repeat the “rise and fold” process two more times. When that’s done, move to shaping the loaves for baking.
Final Stage, Shaping & Baking – Preheat the oven to 450° F. Place parchment paper on or spray or apply a light coat of oil on a baking sheet or a 3-form baguette pan.
With the aid of a scraper, carefully turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface keeping it inflated as much as possible. Divide the dough into 3 even size pieces. I use a pair of kitchen scissors to cut the dough. Let the 3 pieces rest for 15 minutes. Now, with the palms of your hand, roll each piece into a long cylinder and place it on the baking sheet or baguette pan. Let the loaves rise until doubled in size, about 30 to 40 minutes. Use a sharp knife to cut ¼ inch deep angled slashes down each loaf. Spritz the loaves with water. Sprinkle a bit of flour over each loaf. Place the prepared dough loaves in the preheated oven and turn the temperature down to 400° F. Bake the baguettes for 25-30 minutes or until the baguettes are nicely browned (Review notes below). As hard as it may be, allow your no-knead French baguettes to cool before serving.
Notes: When measuring the flour for this recipe it’s important not to over-measure or pack the flour into the measuring cup. To prevent that, I use the scoop and swipe method. When scooping up the flour in a measuring cup, don’t be tempted to pack it in. Just let it be and then swipe off the excess with a scraper or knife to level the flour in the measuring cup. Trust me, it’s the best way to measure the flour for this recipe. The best way to check to see if your bread is cooked through is to tap it and listen for a hollow sound. If it still sounds solid when you thump the bread add a minute or two and check again.
It’s important not to miss a step in this no-knead French baguette recipe. To ensure I don’t miss any of the steps, I made a checklist, and I check each step off as I go. When I do this, I’ll have the best opportunity for excellent results, and so will you. The number of loaves you make from a batch of dough will depend entirely on how many loaves you’d like to make. Remember, the smaller the bread loaves, the less time they’ll take to bake, and vice versa.
Tips: What is the temperature of water when we hear the terms Tepid, Luke Warm, Warm, and Hot. Below is the guide I use when these terms show up in any recipe.
- Tepid = 75°-85° F
- Luke Warm = 95°-105° F
- Warm = 115°-125° F
- Hot = 135°-140° F
When making any kind of bread, I like to proof my yeast in water at 100° F. Note: You will kill your yeast at around 135°-140° F. so be careful.
I’ve made these No-Knead French Baguettes many times with great success and much raving from the ones I’ve served it to. I love the overnight method. By timing it right, I can have it ready to pop in the oven before my guests arrive for breakfast or dinner. What’s really fun is wrapping up the leftover loaves and sending them home with our guests. I’ve never had one turn me down yet.
Time to eat…
P.S. Take a moment to check out some of the tools I used for this “No-Knead French Baguettes” below. 🙂