This is a no-knead French sourdough baguette recipe that uses 100% natural wild yeast in the form of a rye sourdough starter. The crust is super crunchy yet delicate and the crumb airy and slightly chewy. All the perfect qualities you'll find in the best baguette you'll ever make.
- What is a baguette
- Are all baguettes sourdough
- The secret to getting the perfect crust
- Useful equipment for this recipe
- Ingredients needed
- How to make the dough
- How to shape a baguette
- How to bake it
- How to soften hard baguette
- Serving suggestions
- Frequently asked questions
- Other recipes you might like
- Sourdough Baguettes
- Nutrition Facts
What is a baguette
The word baguette simply means "batton" or "stick". Pretty obviously because of its shape.
Baguette, pronounced ba-get, is a long round shaped loaf of bread that originated in France in the early 19th century around the time when steam ovens were introduced.
The history of baguette is extremely colourful and mostly just fairy tales.
What we deem a classic/trendy bread now was just a basic means to an end back then. Feeding a hungry tummy.
For this reason, many legends have been creatively invented and they all make for good reading.
The baguette is a comfortable-to-carry, comfortable-to-cut multifunctional loaf of bread that's loved by millions of people around the world.
Are all baguettes sourdough
Traditionally baguettes aren't made with sourdough but rather with fresh yeast.
The process takes a lot quicker but the result is much inferior to a sourdough baguette.
This is an overnight sourdough baguette recipe and it ensures that the fermentation process takes a longer time, which in turn gives us much tastier bread and also the best texture a sourdough loaf could have.
Crunchy, soft and chewy.
The secret to getting the perfect crust
In short. You need moisture. Sounds strange? Maybe so but, that's what makes bread have a crunchy crust.
When we make bread we hydrate starches. The starch at room temperature only takes up about 40% of its potential hydration level.
When we cook the bread those hydrated starches take up more moisture the closer it gets to 82 degrees Celsius or 180 degrees Fahrenheit. At this temperature, starches gelatinise irreversibly.
The high moisture level ensures that the temperature of the dough rises very slowly.
The yeast can perform a final super charged fermentation and the bubbles already trapped in the dough has time to expand before the protein structure around them sets.
To make a crispy crust we want to bombard the hydrated starches with moisture so that they become so saturated with moisture, they burst and form a liquid gel.
This gel, in turn, bakes into a glass-like structure or thin crust and then finally browns due to the Maillard reaction.
The first 10 minutes of baking is crucial as the moisture level during this period needs to be kept at a maximum. We don't want the exterior to dry out and set while the inside is still expanding.
Make sure your oven is extra steamy by placing a container with boiling water in it.
Spray the inside of the oven and also the loaf with a fine water mist every 2 minutes during the first 10 minutes of baking.
More on all that technical stuff here if you are interested in the science.
Useful equipment for this recipe
Bread Baking Set
Electronic Kitchen Scales
- 09:00 am - Feed your starter first thing in the morning.
- 18:00 pm - Make the dough and autolyse
- 19:15 pm - Add the salt and give it the first stretch and fold. Let it rest for 45 minutes.
- 20:15 pm - Stretch and fold. Cover and rest for 45 minutes.
- 21:30 pm - Stretch and fold. Cover and rest for 45 minutes.
- 22:15 pm - Shape the dough and let it ferment in the fridge overnight.
- 08:00 am - Remove the baguettes from the fridge and let it sit at room temperature for an hour.
- 08:30 am - Turn oven to 250 degrees Celsius or 480 degrees Fahrenheit. Place a pan filled with water in the bottom of the oven along with a baking tray or baking stone.
- 09:00 am - Dust semolina onto hot tray or baking stone. Place baguettes onto it. Slash with a lame or sharp knife.
- 09:15 am - Bake for 30 minutes. After 15 minutes, rotate the tray and turn the oven down to 220 degrees Celsius or 428 degrees Fahrenheit. Remove the baguettes from the oven and let them cool down on a wire rack before slicing or simply breaking off pieces and enjoy with some good butter or olive oil.
- Starter - Use my rye starter recipe or, if you already have a sourdough starter then use what you have.
- Flour - Use all-purpose flour that has a protein content of between 10 - 12 per cent. You can use stronger flour but, don't go any lower. I've also included some other substitutes you can use a bit further down in the post.
How to make the dough
For detailed timings see the schedule above or recipe card. Here is the step by step guide for the best sourdough baguette recipe.
- Feed your starter with 50 grams white bread flour and 50 grams clean drinkable water. Let it sit at room temperature covered for 9 hours.
- Mix 250 grams of water with 100 grams sourdough starter. Add in the flour and mix until fully incorporated. Cover and rest for 1 hour. During this time dissolve the salt in the remaining 30 grams water.
- Add the salty water to the dough and mix through well until the dough is smooth. Give it a stretch and fold by pulling up one side of the dough and folding it over itself, repeating around the perimeter of the dough. When done, form into a ball and place into a clean, lightly oiled bowl and cover with a damp cloth or plastic wrap. Let it rest for 45 minutes.
- Repeat the stretch and fold. Cover and let the dough rest for another 45 minutes.
- Stretch and fold a final time and rest covered again for 45 minutes. During this time prepare an oven tray lined with a well-floured couche or linen towel.
- Place the dough onto a floured work surface and divide into 4 roughly equal pieces ready for the important shaping step.
How to shape a baguette
- Flour your hands and stretch each piece into a rough rectangle.
- For each piece do the following. Fold over the top part towards yourself with you thumbs pushing into the dough and away from you. This creates tension in the dough.
- Repeat this until the dough is rolled up.
- Seal the seam with the floured palm of your hand and then pinch close if needed with your thumb and forefinger.
- Roll the shaped dough into a long sausage. Start with both hands in the middle of the dough and work your way towards the ends where you apply more pressure to give it the signature pointy ears.
- Place seam-side up onto the lined and floured tray. Dust with more flour mix. Cover with plastic wrap and place into the fridge overnight.
How to bake it
- Turn your oven to 250 degrees Celsius or 480 degrees Fahrenheit. Place a container filled with water in the bottom of the oven. Place your baking tray or pizza stone into the oven so it's hot when you need to bake.
- Dust the hot tray with semolina flour. Place the baguettes seam side down onto the baking sheet. Use a lame or sharp knife to slash the loaves. The cuts should be made at a 25-degree angle and 1,5 centimetres deep.
- Place the baguettes into the oven and bake for 30 minutes. After 15 minutes, rotate the baking sheet and turn the oven down to 220 degrees Celsius or 428 degrees Fahrenheit. Remove the baguettes from the oven. Let them cool down slightly and admire their crunchy crust and pillowy crumb before slicing or taring of a piece to sample. Enjoy with some good butter or olive oil.
For personal advice
Follow me on Instagram
I help many people with a wide variety of questions about food and other cooking-related issues. Simply send me a message and I'll get back to you as soon as possible.
This way you will become a better and more confident cook.
How to soften hard baguette
When you go through the trouble of making your own sourdough baguette all the way from scratch, you obviously want to use it all instead of giving it to the pigeons.
Refreshing it is easy and you don't waste a crumb.
Hard baguette means it has dried out and the little moisture that was in there has evaporated.
This is easily fixed.
Remember we talked about hydrated starches irreversibly gelatinise when the bread is baked? This means that the structure of the bread is fully intact and the only thing we need to do is replace the lost moisture.
To do this you need to run or dip your bread into water. Make sure the crust is completely wet. This all may sound crazy but it works. So, let's continue.
Turn your oven to 160 degrees Celsius or 320 degrees Fahrenheit.
Place the soaked baguettes on a lined oven tray or baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes.
After the time is up, your stale baguette will be good as new with a crunchy crust and soft interior.
Note that you can not repeat this process over and over. Once you used this lifeline, that is it.
You don't have to stick to the classical white baguette. You can easily modify this recipe by doing the following.
- Mix the flour - Replace 10 per cent of the white flour with rye, wholewheat, spelt, buckwheat, oat or flax meal to name a few.
- Seeds and dried fruit - Add in chopped dried apricots, cranberry, cherries, walnuts, or pumpkin seeds.
- Add vegetables - When shaping the dough fold in some garlic, caramelised onion or even baked pumpkin to the centre of the loaves.
- Use another liquid - Use beer or pumpkin stock instead of plain water.
- Other add-ins - For a burst of colour add a tablespoon of one of the following. Turmeric powder, cocoa powder, blue pea flower powder.
Like with any good sourdough bread you can simply have it with good butter or go the extra step and cook something else delicious to serve it with.
- Sandwiches - Make a simple cheese and ham sandwich for a truly French snack. refrain from overloading it with soft ingredients. Because the crust is crispy and interior chewy, it's best to use dry ingredients like cheese, ham, liver spread or something down those lines.
- With soup - Toast it or simply dip into your favourite soup like Ukrainian borscht or creamy potato and leek soup.
- Croutons - Make croutons for salads by drizzling with olive oil, salt and pepper and baking until crispy in the oven.
- With dips - Dip into baked Morrocan eggplant or pea and mint dip. My favourite is to dip into good olive oil, homemade balsamic glaze and Egyptian dukkah.
Frequently asked questions
Once completely cooled you should store it airtight and keep it in a cool dry place. It will keep for up to 5 days. Do not store in the fridge as bread goes stale quicker in the fridge.
You can easily bake and freeze sourdough baguettes for longer storage and for the convenience of having freshly baked bread to hand at all times.
I suggest you slice the bread and store in airtight ziplock bags. It will keep for up to 3 months.
Because baguette is a long round shape you will have trouble just popping it into a regular toaster. It is also browned all over so if you cut it in half lengthways you might burn the already browned side. The best way is to either fry it in a pan or toast it under the grill drizzled with a bit of olive oil.
Other recipes you might like
If you love baking bread are desserts then you will find the following recipes useful.
THIS PAGE CONTAINS AFFILIATE LINKS - I MIGHT EARN A TINY % OF THE SALE THROUGH THESE LINKS AT NO EXTRA COST TO YOU. PROBABLY NOT EVEN ENOUGH TO BUY A BEER).
If you found this recipe helpful or have learned something, comment, subscribe and follow me on social platforms for more delicious recipes.
DID YOU MAKE THIS RECIPE?
Tag @PANTSDOWNAPRONSON on Instagram and hashtag it #PANTSDOWNAPRONSON