About this recipe:Learn how to make baguettes from scratch without a bread machine. This foolproof recipe guides you step-by-step. If you follow it to the letter, you'll be rewarded with light and crusty baguettes that rival any French boulangerie.
Makes: 4 baguettes
1/4 teaspoon quick yeast
350ml water at room temperature
1 3/4 teaspoons salt
500g plain flour, or as needed
1/2 teaspoon polenta (cornmeal), or as needed
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Method Prep:20min › Cook:15min › Extra time:13hr › Ready in:13hr35min
Place yeast into the bottom of a large mixing bowl and stir with water; mix in salt. Beat flour into yeast mixture with a wooden spoon until dough is thick and sticky and pulls flour from the side of the bowl, 5 to 10 minutes.
Cover bowl with cling film and let rise in a turned-off oven until doubled in size, 12 to 14 hours. Dough will be bubbly and very sticky.
Place a silicone baking mat onto a baking tray and dust generously with cornmeal.
Use a floured spatula to scrape dough out onto a well-floured work surface and dust dough with flour. With well-floured hands, pat dough into a rectangle and cut into 4 equal-size pieces.
Dust a piece of dough with flour and use your floured fingers to gently roll and stretch it out into a log about 25cm (10 in) long and 4cm (1 1/2 in) around. Gently transfer to prepared baking tray. Repeat with another piece of dough. (Reserve remaining dough to bake later or prepare 2 baking trays to bake all 4 at once). Dust loaves lightly with flour. Dust a large piece of cling film with flour and drape lightly over the baking tray with floured side down.
Let loaves rise, covered, until doubled, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
Move oven racks to the bottom and middle positions. Preheat oven to 260 C / Gas 10 or as high as your oven will go. Place an oven-safe baking dish full of water into bottom rack of the oven.
Use a sharp kitchen scissors to cut 4 or 5 angled slashes into the top of each loaf. Poke down the little sharp tips of dough left by the scissors. Spray loaves with water, using a spray bottle.
Bake in the preheated oven until baguettes are browned, about 15 minutes, spraying loaves with water after 5 minutes and 10 minutes. Turn the tray around on the second spraying.
Transfer baguettes to a cooling rack and let cool to room temperature before slicing with a serrated knife.