Saturday, January 23, 2010

Perfect Baguettes at Home

Dan Leader suggests in his latest book that the secret to one of the most celebrated baguettes in Paris might be a touch of corn flour. This week I substituted 40 grams* of corn flour (note: corn flour, not corn meal) for all-purpose flour in my Baguettes à l'Anciennce, and I like the results. The dough felt gritty as I started kneading, but the corn flour did eventually blend in, and seemed to provide a creamier interior.

My recipe uses a starter, or levain, You can easily make your own levain by following the instructions here, but if you absolutely insist on using a straight dough, simply increase the flour and water by 125 grams each, increase the yeast to a teaspoon, and knead for a few minutes longer. The texture won't be quite as airy, and the taste not as rich, but it's far still better than anything you're likely to buy. A recipe (which assumes you have some experience with baking) follows, but if you don't, not to worry: Detailed instructions and photos are included in the full recipe on my website.

*Yes, that says "grams." You'll need a scale (see my previous post) and will need to think like (gasp) a European. Or Asian. Or Samoan Islander. Or a resident of just about any other place on the planet that long ago converted to the easy-to-use metric system while we still struggle with ounces and pounds. But don't get me started...Here's the recipe.

335 g all-purpose flour
40 g corn flour
250 g levain (fed 2 hrs or the night before)
220 g water
¼ teas. instant yeast
10 g salt 

  1. Mix all ingredients and allow dough to rest for 25 min.
  2. Knead by hand on unfloured countertop for about 7 minutes, till dough feels silky and elastic.
  3. Return to bowl, cover with oil-misted plastic wrap, and ferment 4-5 hours
  4. Preheat baking stone in oven to 525 degrees F.
  5. On floured countertop, divide into 4 small balls, then fold and roll each into a baguette
  6. Proof between folds of linen couche or parchment paper for 1 hr
  7. Transfer to a peel or the back of a cookie sheet. Score each loaf with a razor
  8. Slide into oven, add steam by your favorite method, and reduce oven temperature to 475.
  9. Bake for about 25 minutes (start watching at 20) until dark brown, and interior is 205-210 deg.
  10. Cool on rack at least 1 hr before serving.


  1. nice breads! i´m going to do it.
    eduardo from brazil.

  2. I'm getting ready to try this recipe as written for the first time. I've done it a couple of times with the adjustments with no levain and have been very pleased with the results. I now have a sourdough and am very excited to bake tomorrow. I hope mine turn out one quarter as appetizing as yours look...



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