Dan Leader's 4-Hour Baguette

By • March 25, 2014 • 98 Comments

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Author Notes: This recipe is the aggressive, no-more-excuses shove that you need to start baking your own bread. It will only take you 4 hours of intermittent attention, and won't require a starter nor any equipment you don't already own -- and it will rival your favorite bakery's. Adapted slightly from Local Breads (W. W. Norton & Company, 2007) and Saveur Magazine.Genius Recipes

Makes 3 baguettes

  • 1 1/2 cups (12 ounces) tap water, heated to 115° F
  • 1 teaspoon (1/8 ounce) active dry yeast
  • 3 1/4 cups (14 2/3 ounces) all-purpose flour
  • 3 teaspoons (3/8 ounces) Diamond Crystal kosher salt (note: if using a fine-grained salt like table salt, fine sea salt or other brands of kosher salt, you will need to use a smaller volume)
  • Canola oil, for greasing bowl
  • 1/2 cup ice cubes
  1. Whisk together water and yeast in a large bowl; let sit until yeast is foamy, about 10 minutes. Add flour, and stir with a fork until dough forms and all flour is absorbed; let dough sit to allow flour to hydrate, about 20 minutes. Add salt, then transfer dough to a lightly floured work surface, and knead until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. Transfer dough ball to a lightly greased bowl, cover bowl with plastic wrap, and place bowl in a cold oven or microwave. Let dough rest until doubled in size, about 45 minutes.
  2. Transfer dough to a lightly floured work surface, and shape into an 8-inch x 6-inch rectangle. Fold the 8-inch sides toward the middle, then fold the shorter sides toward the center, like a T-shirt. Return dough, seam side down, to the bowl. Cover with plastic again, and return to oven. Let sit until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
  3. Remove bowl with dough from oven, and place a cast–iron skillet on the bottom rack of oven; position another rack above skillet, and place a baking stone or upside down or rimless sheet pan on it.
  4. Heat oven to 475° F. Transfer dough to a lightly floured work surface, and cut into three equal pieces; shape each piece into a 14-inch rope. Flour a sheet of parchment paper on a rimless baking sheet; place ropes, evenly spaced, on paper. Lift paper between ropes to form pleats; place two tightly rolled kitchen towels under long edges of paper, creating supports for the loaves. Cover loosely with plastic wrap; let sit until it doubles in size, about 50 minutes.
  5. Uncover; remove towels, and flatten paper to space out loaves. Using a sharp razor, knife, bread lame, or scissors, slash the top of each baguette at a 30–degree angle in four spots; each slash should be about 4 inches long. Pull out the oven rack with the stone or baking sheet on it and, using the corner of the parchment paper as a guide, slide the loaves, still on the parchment paper, onto the baking stone or pan. Place ice cubes in skillet (this produces steam that lets the loaves rise fully before a crust forms). Bake the baguettes until darkly browned and crisp, 20 to 30 minutes; cool before serving.
Jump to Comments (98)

Comments (98) Questions (1)

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Cbac9720-fcb6-11e3-9b4b-8d0fb8177fe2_dogeating

9 days ago Boomdog02

I'm thinking these baguettes are all I need for dinner..with some nice sweet butter and a glass of vino!

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15 days ago John

Hi,I put the yeast in the bowl then add the warm water and wisk it,try addind a teaspoon or less of sugar .Sometimes mine doesn't get foamy but the dough still rises .

Headshot

15 days ago alidee06

I am really hoping someone can help me. I CAN NOT get my yeast to get foamy! I went through three packets the first time I tried this. I am using a thermometer to reach around 115 deg. and then sprinkling the yeast in. Nothing. I threw away that yeast and bought a different brand. Again, nothing! I have tried tap water, bottled water and filtered tap water. What is going on?! HELP, I just want to make some bread!

Flower

15 days ago Tracie

This happened to me as well. I think my water was too hot even though I used a thermometer. I finally just put warm water in and it finally started to do something. I think I must have been killing it with the hot water.

Wrong_apple

9 days ago sevenfaces

Alidee - when I was making another type of bread, I found that sprinkling the yeast over a lesser amount of warm water (1/4 C) and letting it sit without whisking at all seemed to encourage a very foamy result (in general I've found the less I disturb the initial mixture of yeast and water, the foamier my results). I hope that helps, if you can bear to try again!

Wrong_apple

9 days ago sevenfaces

I should say, the other bread recipe was 1t yeast : 1/4C water. So in this recipe I think you would need 3/4C to start. Then add the rest of the water when you add the flour and etc.

Cbac9720-fcb6-11e3-9b4b-8d0fb8177fe2_dogeating

9 days ago Boomdog02

could be H2o was too hot...should be baby bottle warm. Also a sprinkle/pinch of sugar or honey-helps activate the yeast and gets it foamy. I also cover the bowl with plastic wrap while it activates.

Wrong_apple

20 days ago sevenfaces

These baguettes turned out EXACTLY as they look in the photo, an occurrence so rare I actually screamed (for joy) when they came out of the oven! I also had to add a heaped teaspoon of sugar to my yeast to bring it to life, and it was a very very wet dough - I must have added about 1/2C flour in total across the whole process (most of it during kneading) and it turned out beautifully. SO HAPPY with the results. I ate it fresh with jam and cream. :)

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25 days ago shellie

Question about the salt. It says "3
teaspoons (3/8 ounces) Diamond Crystal kosher salt (note: if using a fine-grained salt like table salt, fine sea salt or other brands of kosher salt, you will need to use a smaller volume)" -- but is the 3/8 ounces a measure by weight, as opposed to volume? (I think it's weight, since Google tells me that 3 teaspoons is 0.5 oz, and I assume that means volume....) If it's weight, then can we just use 3/8 oz of any type of salt?

Whisk-only

3 months ago Maddie and Cady (Hungry Curious)

My new go to baguette recipe!

Flower

3 months ago Tracie

Would I be able to make the dough the night before and cook them in the morning?

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2 months ago tracyn

Yes, I did that with mine. After step 2 (folding into an 8 inch square) I put my dough in the fridge so I could bake it the next day. Turned out great!

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3 months ago Ann Guanciale

Perfect...
I will be making this again!
I did add sugar to the yeast as well..

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4 months ago Chris

Cindy... How much sugar did you use when the yeast/water didnt foam?

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4 months ago Cindy from Canada

I used about a teaspoon (or less). Seemed to be enough.

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5 months ago Cindy from Canada

Re AnnieHynes and epic fail - I had the same problem - water and yeast - nothing happened - thought my yeast was dead - but then added a bit of sugar to the yeast/water and it worked beautifully - this is my new baguette recipe.

Open-uri20140506-18685-157bak5

6 months ago Maureen O'Ineedadrink

I tossed a bit of asiago cheese and herbs de provence on top for the last 7 min of one of the loaves. With three you can try out something new on one of them every time.

Stringio

6 months ago Jacqueline Ogilvie

Made this for Easter Dinner. Amazing and fast. 3 tsp of flaked salt is perfect. No idea if r)3 recipe was wrong before or people were using the wrong kind of salt. Gut this is great. I Agee it's not pretty, but I will take more time shaping the ropes. 1 was perfect by fluck.

Stringio

6 months ago Justcookin

I just used olive oil to grease the bowl and it worked really well!

Stringio

6 months ago Mark Ayers

Everything was glorious until I read the ingrediant canola oil. Why would I want an Industrial Age product requiring solvents to produce from a plant that had traditionally produced fuel oil? There are better alternatives available that are constant with my values.

Still, it loos yummy and I'm sure will be when I've made it.

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6 months ago pjcamp

Canola is a cultivar of rapeseed, developed through cross breeding to eliminate the bitter flavor. Rapeseed is one of the oldest cultivated plants, used in Japan and China for 2000 years and in India for 4000 years. If you're opposed to the use of hexane as a solvent in the extraction process, then you also have to swear off soybean oil, sunflower oil, safflower oil, grapeseed oil, in fact basically every oil except olive, and even then you have to be careful to pass on the pomace oil. On the other hand, Spectrum Naturals produces canola oil with an expeller press and no solvents.

Not sure exactly what your values are unless they involve urban legends and antiscientific attitudes. I am sure, however, that you meant to say "consistent," not constant. "Constant with my values" doesn't mean anything.

Cbac9720-fcb6-11e3-9b4b-8d0fb8177fe2_dogeating

9 days ago Boomdog02

Jeez...chill out and use olive oil! From the sound of your comment, I expect you've built a mud and soil oven in your yard, fueled only by dead driftwood you find while scavenging the shoreline for shellfish, like early homo sapien.

Stringio

6 months ago Justcookin

Made this yesterday and it was AMAZING! My finicky son (bread aficionado) ate one whole loaf and then some. My husband loved it! Thanks!

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6 months ago seeabigail

just finished making this! still hot but i'm sure it will taste amazing! any tips on how to make it a bit prettier? i'd love to make them as beautiful as the one in the picture! :)

Stringio

6 months ago Justcookin

Why don't you just use 1T of salt? (3t = 1T) makes it so much easier! My bread was not so sticky. I have it made into loaves and rising! Can't wait to try it!!!

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6 months ago leanne parcher

Winner, winner, chicken dinner! Wow, love it. I too cheated and used the KitchenAid for the kneading. Last night a loaf with homemade cavatelli. This morning, avocado toast.

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7 months ago mark dorfman

This is superb. We let the loaves bake an extra minute for a crispier crust.
Use sweet butter and you jave a trip to france in your mouth.

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7 months ago Sue

Can I use instant yeast?

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7 months ago Maya Ruparelia

I did, the bread turned out just fine :)