5 Ingredients or Fewer

Dan Leader's 4-Hour Baguette

May 23, 2021
45 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
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

  • Prep time 4 hours
  • Cook time 30 minutes
  • Makes 3 baguettes
Ingredients
  • 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)
  • 1 splash Canola oil, for greasing bowl
  • 1/2 cup ice cubes
In This Recipe
Directions
  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.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Linda Curtiss
    Linda Curtiss
  • Sherry Ainscough
    Sherry Ainscough
  • Cynthia
    Cynthia
  • jacqueline prajza
    jacqueline prajza
  • Kayla Frances Galloway
    Kayla Frances Galloway
Genius Recipes

Recipe by: Genius Recipes

266 Reviews

Robert V. February 20, 2021
My bread looked pretty good, but it tasted bland. I think there is no substitute for time to "ripen" the dough.
 
Shaun January 24, 2021
Made it today. Great color and flavor. Can really taste the salt but not complaining. Only issue I had was that I could not score it. I think the dough was too soft and would not allow the lame to cut it. Will make it again and again until perfected.
 
Linda C. January 19, 2021
Made this over the weekend. Results were fabulous, but took two days to fully rise (including overnight in the fridge). I used bread flour instead of all-purpose. Could this have been the problem?
 
John January 19, 2021
I never it rise in fridge ,it needs to be warm. Your yeast mite have been old Thats all i use is bread flour all trump high gluten
 
Linda C. January 19, 2021
I put it in the fridge overnight because, after 5 hours of rising in a warm place (the first rise), I needed to go to bed! Each rise took 2 or 3 times longer than recipe notes. Yeast was fine two days earlier with a diff bread. I was just wondering if the bread flour made a difference -- I guess not -- will try again as the final result was fabulous.
 
Vinaigrette July 9, 2020
This is a great recipe, especially for those who are new to baking bread. A baguette pan is ideal: it eliminates the need for the parchment-and-dish-towels part of the recipe. These baguettes are best the day they are baked; they tend to soften after a few hours.
 
F*Food52 June 21, 2020
Dropping ice cubes into a cast iron pan may warp it, and possibly crack it. I would recommend using room temp or even boiling water instead.
 
Sherry A. June 20, 2020
I live in fairly high altitude, so adjusted the temp to 450, and baked for 20 minutes. I followed the instructions with measurements rather than by weigh. The results were fabulous. Any leftover bread will be used in a baked French toast dish. Yum.
 
Cynthia June 13, 2020
I just made this today. Pulled it out of the oven about 10 minutes ago. This was the first time I've made baguettes, and the first time in a long time that I've worked with yeast dough. Also, I recently moved from about 350 feet above sea level to a place that's about 7,000 feet. Soooooo. . .
First off, the loaves came out nicely. Great flavor and texture. I was nervous because this was my first attempt at baking anything at this altitude, let alone bread.
I made some adjustments to the liquid, the flour, and the yeast, based on what I'd read about high altitude baking. I think next time I might just adjust the yeast. Also, I think I set the oven temp too high, again for the altitude.
But even with my mistakes, this bread came out respectably well, and now I can't wait to make it again.
Really excellent recipe, and, quite possibly, fool-proof. This is a keeper.
 
jacqueline P. May 23, 2020
I have made this twice. The first time I used the cup/spoon measurements. Bread looked good, but not enough flavour. Second time, I used gram measurements. Interestingly, 1 tsp of yeast is 2.83 grams (I used 3 grams) and 1/8 oz converts to 3.5 grams. Also 1.5 cups of water is 236.59 grams while 12 oz converts to 354.88 (I used 355 grams). Quite a difference. Both of the flour measurements converted to approximately 406 grams of flour. 3/8 oz of Kosher salt converts to 10.6 grams, while 3 tsp equals 18 grams (I used 18 grams). Again, quite a difference.
While the dough was quite wet, it was not hard to work with and I didn't concern myself with how much flour I added as I kneaded. Just did what worked.
I did have a little trouble getting the loaves into the oven the first time. I made the parchment paper dividers too high, so when stretched out they only just fit on the upturned pan in the oven. The second time around made them smaller so it worked just fine. The second batch looked and smelled delicious and had a far superior flavour.
 
Carol C. September 26, 2020
Jacqueline- I made this dough just now, using 406 g flour and 355g of water and what a mess- the dough will not come together after 15 mins of kneading and a good amount of extra flour! I have given up on this dough today, and will try again tomorrow using 406g flour and the lesser amount you mentioned above. I don’t understand how novice bakers are able to make this work. Thanks for your groundwork, tho- it’s been an education!
 
Carol C. September 26, 2020
Update- my bread came out amazing! I decided to do what I could with the dough after it rose- it was good! Still don’t like how difficult this dough is to work with- I just don’t get how all the reviews say this is an easy recipe.
 
chimpo January 14, 2021
I think I see your water problem. 1 cup (not 1.5) of water is 236.59g/cc/ml. 1.5 cups of water is actually 354.89g/cc/ml, as in the recipe.
 
Kayla F. May 18, 2020
Does anyone have feedback on how to bake these with a gas oven?
 
Debra G. May 27, 2020
I followed the direction using my gas oven and both times it turned out perfectly.
 
F*Food52 June 21, 2020
Gas ovens work well, assuming you have a good thermostat in it. If you are worried about it, get an oven thermometer to check accuracy. If you have one, try using a Dutch Oven to bake in. You won't have to muck about with the water in the oven, and it will be a much more consistent temperature. Down sides to dutch ovens are their limited dimensions, and remembering to take the lid off after 20 minutes. Minor plus is just setting a loaf into it, while it rests on parchment paper - super easy clean up afterwards!
 
Garth May 10, 2020
Not only is this an essential baguette recipe, it gave me techniques that I consistently use every time I make a leavened product: activating the yeast, mixing wet and dry ingredients then just letting that 'shaggy' result set for 10-15 minutes, .... Can be used for sandwiches, dipping, slathered in butter, French toast, or eaten in totality straight from the oven.
 
Emily A. April 29, 2020
This was quick and easy to make and my family loved it! So much better and fresher than store bought French bread. I only baked the baguettes for 20 minutes. Will be making this over and over again.
 
Mary C. April 25, 2020
I’ve made this bread many times and always loved the results
Regarding the discussion about cups vs weight there’s a lot more to it. Also depends on weather/humidity and how old your flour is
The dough should be a little sticky (higher hydration) to create those big holes
I also added 1/4 cup of wheat germ which gives the bread a little nuttier taste as if it had fermented hours longer
 
Paige C. April 11, 2020
6th time I'm making this? Thought I'd finally review. Quality QUALITY recipe for beginners. I have made it for bahn mis, hoagies, dipping bread, mussels dipping bread, and for regular toast. THE CROWD FAVORITE (DONT KNOCK IT) California French Bread! It's 1part mayo, 1 part grated parm (I prefer from the can), and 1 part sliced green onions. Mix and slather on bias crostini sized slices. Broil til bubbly. I like the density of the bread because it holds up a goopy delish topping. I've never had a bad loaf from this recipe but I do prefer making it by weight. So good with salted butter and radishes too. 😍 IT'S GENIUS!
I have added a little bit of water. Like 1/2 cup in the cast iron pan. As I'm putting in the bread. I close the oven really fast so the steam doesn't escape. Just for giggles. I like the crusty result.
 
Jeffrey P. April 10, 2020
This is a great base recipe. Tried it once by measuring cup and ended up with a nice, but perhaps overly dry/dense loaf that was very easy to knead/work at every step. Tried it again by weight, and ended up with a much wetter dough that required a lot of working, scraping, flouring and reflouring, but yielded beautiful results. Perfect crust, air pockets, nicely chewy texture throughout, utterly delicious. Be sure to work it enough to achieve that elasticity, and it can stand to proof a little longer than in the recipe, but obviously just use your eyes and judgment. Perfect for butter and soft cheeses, but also makes for fantastic hotdog/hot sub sandwich bread.
 
Mary S. April 8, 2020
So, this is not a review as I haven't baked it yet, but ya'll, this is bread, not a cake. The amount of flour used in bread is an "or so" amount, not an exact amount. The amount you use can depend on the weather, altitude, and your attitude toward it. You are creating--it is an art and can be tweaked. Looking forward to baking it tomorrow.
 
Paulette K. March 23, 2020
I checked America's Test Kitchen and I cup of flour is noted as 5 ounces.
Should the recipe be for 16.25 ounces of flour. This would certainly stop problems for people that weigh their flour like it did. My dough was too wet to work with.
 
John March 23, 2020
Get a digital scale they are pretty cheap today , it's better then using cups and spoons
 
Paulette K. March 23, 2020
I used a scale. My point is that the weight should be 16.25 ounces not the 14.66 in the recipe, I think the people that measure out the flour at 3.25 cups will have a different dough than those that weigh out 14.66 ounces.
 
Carol C. April 19, 2020
Great point- helpful. Thanks!
 
F*Food52 June 21, 2020
Sourdough bread is normally a rather wet dough. You may want to watch some more videos, and see the variations.
 
Lady D. March 18, 2020
Working from home during the COVID-19 self iso, made this in between serving clients on line and on phone. First time making baguettes. OMG!!!! mind blown. This is awesome. Hubs can't stop eating it and he says he is swearing off carbs. I usually attempt sourdough so this lower hydration was a lovely change and very easy to deal with - will keep making it - at least till hubs tells me to stop! LOL
 
meegs February 15, 2020
I made this today. Turned out decent. The loaves were a bit misshapen and the crumb a bit dense but not bad. They had an excellent flavor. I used weight for my measurements and the dough was too sticky to knead without continually re-flouring my board and hands. I think ultimately that may have contributed to the bit denser crumb. How do you knead sticky dough? I will definitely make again and see if I can’t master it. This is the first bread I’ve baked in years and I’m excited to get back into the practice. This is the first time I’ve ever baked baguettes. The recipe was easy enough to follow and I supplemented by watching a few Youtube videos with some pointers. Cheers!!
 
Courtney February 15, 2020
I made it yesterday and again today. When I knead it I actually just leave it in the bowl and make sure only to use my palm. I don’t add any flour to it. It sticks some to my hand but not enough that I care. It definitely got less sticky as I went. I might try leaving it as one big round loaf at some point. It’s so delicious! I’m obsessed!
 
Courtney February 15, 2020
I made this bread yesterday for the first time. I haven’t made any type of bread for probably 10 years and never a baguette. I was able to make it in between dropping off/picking up my 4 year old from preschool. I used basic measuring cups and was flying to get it done so nothing was very precise I’d say. I used foil instead of parchment bc I didn’t have any. I also sprinkled salt on top right before it went into oven. It turned out incredible!! My mom came over for dinner and compared it to a nearby bakery that has the absolute best baguettes!
 
Phil A. December 11, 2019
Yeah so this didn't work, like at all. 1) Why do so many recipes try to get clever with the amount of yeast needed, my scale won't do fractions that small so I had to eyeball like half a packet on the understanding that each packet is 1/4oz. 2) What on earth is with the difference between flour by weight and flour by volume? I measured my solids by weight and got an crazy runny batter, basically, instead of a dough. I kept throwing spoonfulls of flour into the mixer to try to get it to solidify and not be so sticky and then once I got there it just didn't rise after almost 2 hours. It seems like there's way too much salt in this recipe...is it all the salt messing with the yeast?

If I try this one again I might go volume instead of weight on the flour and just use the full packet of yeast, anyone try that variant?