French Sandwich Baguettes

A hot, crisp, skinny baguette straight out of the oven…so delicious and so very French!  Jacques Pepin, once the personal chef to Charles De Gaulle, says that for his last meal on earth he would have fresh French bread with butter.  He’s right…simple and classic is always the best way to go.

My favorite memory of baguettes is hearing people munch on their mid-day lunch sandwiches from Paul Boulangerie while taking the TGV train from Paris to Avignon.  The sound of people sinking their teeth into that hearty, crispy crust is so haunting…in the best way possible, I must say!

This recipe is for small, thin French baguettes, the type you get in pre-made sandwich form at boulangeries in France.  I love the size of these baguettes because they are perfectly individual and not made for sharing.

As simple as this recipe is, I can’t take credit for it.  I made these during my first class of professional baking at the New School of Cooking, and haven’t thought of a good reason to look for another recipe since.

I’ve made these baguettes so that I can stuff them with thinly sliced Lapsang Souchong Brined Turkey Breast and Roquefort Cheese, but fresh out of the oven, these classic French baguettes can be more simply enjoyed with some fresh fruit preserves and hot, brisk cup of flavored black tea.

French Sandwich Baguettes

Makes 4 baguettes.

Ingredients:

2 teaspoons SAF yeast

1 cup water at room temperature

2 1/2 cups bread flour

1 1/2 tsp salt

semolina flour

bench flour

sesame seeds (optional)

Equipment:

stand mixer

2- double french bread pans or regular half baking sheets

large casserole dish

serrated knife

spray bottle filled with water

cling wrap

Directions:

1.)  With stand mixer with dough hook (or hands), mix together all ingredients except semolina flour for 5-7 minutes if using stand mixer, or 10 minutes if kneading by hand.  Gather dough into a ball and place in a lightly oiled bowl, making sure to coat the dough ball completely in some of the same oil.  Cover with cling wrap, and let the dough rise until tripled in size.

2.)  After the dough has tripled in volume, dump it on a work surface scattered with bench flour and shape into an even 8″ x 6″ rectangle.  Cut the dough in half to make two- 4″ x 6″ halves, then cut each half into half again.  This will make four- 2″ x 6″ long rectangular pieces of dough.

3.)  Stretch a piece of dough evenly to make a 10 inch long rectangle.  Lengthwise, take the top seam of the rectangle and use your fingers to press the seam snugly into the center of the log.  Repeat this seam-tucking process a second time, pinch the seam to seal, then roll the log of dough evenly until it reaches a length of 10-14 inches (depends on how long you want your baguettes to be).  Apply this process to the other 3 pieces of dough.

4.)  Place baguette dough logs on a french bread pan or regular baking sheets lightly sprayed with non-stick spray and generously scattered with semolina flour.  Cover pans with cling wrap and allow the baguettes to double in size.

5.)   When the baguettes are almost fully doubled, preheat oven to 425 degrees F.   Bring 4-6 cups of water to a full boil in a kettle.   After the water reaches a full boil, place a large oven-safe empty casserole dish onto the bottom rack of the pre-heated oven.  With the bottom rack slightly pulled out, pour the boiling water into the casserole dish, then carefully and slowly and push the bottom rack back into the oven.  Close the oven door.

6.)  After they have fully doubled in size, lightly spray the baguettes with water, and then sprinkle lightly with flour (or sesame seeds).  Then use a serrated knife to cut air vents into the dough on a diagonal every two inches along the top of the baguette.  Cut the vents without hesitation with one clean, deliberate stroke, about a 1/2″ deep from the dough surface.  Now, spray the baguettes liberally and evenly with water from the spray bottle, and place the first pan of baguettes in the oven to bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown.  Repeat with second pan after the first pan has baked.

Recipe adapted from Baguette recipe from New School of Cooking.

Step-By-Step:

The simplest of ingredients: bread flour, yeast, salt, and water

Mix all ingredients together to form a ball of dough

After first proof the dough should triple in volume

Divide dough into 4 rectangles

Start with one piece of dough

Take top edge of rectangular piece and tuck it into the center of the dough lengthwise

For a second time, tuck top edge of dough into center of dough lengthwise, then pinch the sea to seal

Roll baguette to length of

Roll baguette to length of 10-14 inches

Before proofing

After proofing

Slash and spray!

A hot water bath will help to make a crisp baguette crust

Angled slashes with a serrated knife make for pretty baguettes

Have leftover baguettes?  Make these Tea-Brined Turkey and Roquefort Cheese Sandwiches to finish up those last batons!

6 thoughts on “French Sandwich Baguettes

  1. You attended the New School of Cooking? How was the Professional Baking series? I am planning on doing the Professional Cooking series in 2014 but I would love to talk with you about your experiences.

    • Thanks for dropping by Yvonne! I loved my experience at the New School of Cooking. The instructors were knowledgeable and personable, and the class sizes afforded me the opportunity to ask lots of questions. Classmates were from a variety of culinary backgrounds and interests, and were helpful as a resource for gathering additional connections in the culinary field. There are others who take the class purely because they love cooking and have a true passion for it. The series is perfect for people who have busy schedules and want to condense their class time to certain days of the week. Please feel free to email me at thirstyfortea@hotmail.com if you have any other specific questions…I would he happy to chat with you!

  2. Thanks for the recipe! I was looking for something that I could start today and end up with delicious baguettes in the same day. I just pulled the first batch out of the oven and they turned out great–tender on the inside and a lovely crust. It was the perfect recipe for my first time making baguettes, but I have to tell you about my two obstacles in the process:

    First off, I ended up adding what seemed like way more flour. The dough was swimming in water when I used your measurements, but I have made other bread doughs plenty of times so I just added little bits at a time as I kneaded the bread and it turned out great. But I had a moment of panic. I think I probably added another cup or cup and a half!

    The second obstacle was pretty dramatic. I placed a large rectangular Pyrex dish in the oven before preheating, feeling really excited to try out this steaming method, but I ended up with a huge and frightening mess. I let the dish sit in the oven while it preheated and set a pot of water on the stovetop to boil. The oven was hot by the time the water was boiling and when I opened the over door and poured the first dribble of hot water into the Pyrex, I heard a loud explosion, jumped back, and looked in to see that the dish had in fact shattered into tiny pieces that were all over the oven and floor.

    It resulted in much more excitement/drama than I had anticipated, but luckily there were no injuries and even after turning off the oven and cleaning out all the glass shards, the baguettes turned out wonderfully (I was worried with then proofing much longer than I had planned)!

    Now I know that I had the timing with the dish and the water all wrong, but that is how I had interpreted the instructions. Thought you might enjoy the epic adventure. I am still so happy with how they turned out. Send me your email if you want a picture 😉

    • Hi there! First off, thank you for taking the time to write to me! I’m hoping that our conversation will help to prevent any future mishaps.

      As for the bread flour measure, I went back in my baking manual and rechecked the amount. I can tell you are an experienced baker because the correct total amount is 2 1/2 cups, which accounts for the extra cup or so you had to add. Thank you for pointing this out to me, I have made the change to the recipe accordingly.

      I must say that I really do try to check and re-check measurements before I post. I think this may be a reminder for triple checkings. =) For any recipe, but especially one with such few ingredients…it’s crucial to get the amounts right, so I’m really happy that it’s corrected now!

      Secondly, I will go ahead and clarify at #5 of the directions that the oven-safe casserole should go into the oven and boiling water should be immediately poured into it in the same step.

      Again, thanks for the informative message and for being so good humored about it all! I’m glad that you at least had some delicious baguettes turn out! And yes, please do send me any pictures at thirstyfortea@hotmail.com!! =)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s