Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Crusty Baguettes

 Have you seen this recipe before? I've seen it many on many sites and I finally had to try it...and it's worth documenting this recipe here too. On one of our book signing tours some of us girls had lunch together and I ordered soup with a baguette. I've been looking for a recipe that tasted like that baguette and I've found it. These crusty baguettes are made from 5 simple ingredients and in under 45 minutes will be hot and ready to serve. Slice or just pull apart....and don't forget to pass the butter! Try dipping it in your favourite balsamic vinegar and oil.
  • 2 cups very hot tap water ***There have been a number of questions regarding the 'very hot tap water, so I'll try to clarify. It's the general rule that when proofing yeast warm water is used. When I say say very hot tap water I think readers are hearing so hot you can hardly stand to touch it. I like the water for this yeast to actually have some heat rather than just warm like a baby bottle. I find that since there is little rising time the warmth of the water helps with the quick rise of the bread. I've never had my yeast fail to rise from the hotter water***
  • 2 tbsp sugar, OR liquid honey heated up
  • 1 tbsp yeast (not instant)
  • 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 3-4 cups flour
  • 3 cups ice cubes
  1. Before you start making the dough, pre heat your oven to 425┬║.
  2. Place hot water in a metal or glass bowl.
  3. Add sugar and stir to dissolve.
  4. Sprinkle yeast over water and let sit for 8-10 minutes to proof.
  5. Add 3 cups of flour and the salt to a large mixing bowl.
  6. Once yeast has proofed, stir it down and add to flour and salt.
  7. Stir well until all the flour is incorporated. Add 1/4 cup of the remaining cup of flour at a time. 
  8. Knead dough adding flour as needed to make a soft but not sticky dough.
  9. On a lightly floured counter press dough into an 8"x12" rectangle.
  10. Cut into 4 equal parts and shape each piece into a 12" long strip.
  11. Take two strips and twist together forming a loaf. It will be a bit random in shape which will make for a nice looking loaf once baked. Do the same with the other two strips of dough.
  12. Place twisted loaves onto a parchment lined baking sheet.
  13. Allow to rise for 15-30 minutes.
  14. Place ice cubes in shallow metal pan and place on bottom rack of oven. Place bread in oven and close oven door quickly so that you don't let the steam from the ice escape. This steam is what will give your baguettes a perfect outer crust and soft inside.
  15. Bake for 15 minutes before opening oven door. Check bread and bake another 5-7 minutes until bread is nicely browned. 
  16. Remove to cooling rack. 
Option: If you want a little softer crust make and bake as above but brush loaves with an egg wash just before baking. Loaves shown were egg washed before baking. I prefer them really crusty, but if you have little ones eating they might enjoy a softer crust....but it's still has a nice crust. 
NOTE: There are some similar recipes out there where they suggest you toss the ice cubes right onto the floor of your oven. I recommend that you NOT do this as it may crack your oven element. Better safe than sorry!


  1. Why oh why do I love bread so much!? I HAVE TO make this Kathy - maybe tonight after work - it just looks sooo good! I love that there isn't so much rising time needed. You give such great instructions. BTW I made your rolled, stuffed Pork Tenderloin on the weekend and it's becoming one of our favourite bbqs!!

  2. I've got to try this one! Ever since a trip to Germany, and enjoying their crusty bread, I've not been able to find a good recipe that makes good, crusty bread. Thanks!

  3. I grew up with "crusty" bread and I make my own and I use a pan of water in the oven when I bake my artisan bread which gives the crunchy crust. I like the idea of ice cubes as trying to get a 9 X 13 pan full of water into the oven without spilling is not easy! LOL! I still have to get it out eventually but that saves me one trip! I'm going to try these for sure as they look delicious and they're fast for bread making. I have company coming and this will be wonderful. As always, thank you so much.

  4. I too love that the rising time is not too long. This bread looks so yummy! I've seen this recipe before (or maybe one very similiar), but your instructions seem clearer to me. Thank you!

  5. I always thought that you needed only lukewarm water because the yeast would not rise if it's too hot. Is that no longer true? Also you say to cut the dough in strips, do you roll it like a rope or flatten it into strips

    1. You are right that generally you want to use luke warm water, but because this recipe requires so little time the hotter water helps to speed this bread alone. The water should be very hot...but not so hot that it is burning you. Once I cut the dough in strips I randomly make a rope, lightly flatten it as I twist. It's very rustic!

  6. I read your site every day, thanks for all the great recipes.
    As a yeast baking coach, one of the first things I teach my students is " heat kills yeast". Please explain why your recipe works, even after the yeast is introduced to hot water. Thanks in advance for your answer.

    1. i appreciate your comment/question, and agree that heat kills yeast. I'm certainly not an expert but I do a lot of yeast baking, and know that water temperature is important for proofing yeast. Using the hotter tap water in this recipe does cause the yeast to not proof to a 'high rise' as with using warm water but it does foam some and in this recipe because there is next to no rising time the warmth from the water helps the dough do what it needs to do in this recipe. There is enough rise left in the yeast to give this bread it's texture and flavour. I know it's an exception to the rule but the result I get every time I make this bread using this method, the end result is what I'm looking for.

    2. One of the first things I learned, baking with yeast, is that too much heat kills yeast. My cinnamon pucks were proof of that. Having said that, I also use hot tap water for my French bread and I thought it worked because I use instant yeast for that bread. I assumed that instant yeast is harder to kill, but I see that Kathy uses regular yeast here... so it is a bit of a mystery. If still in doubt, yeast can handle a bit more heat if added to an already very soft/still liquid like dough ... let it sit for 5 minutes and continue. Just another method I've used... but I know Kathy's method works in this recipe. The photo is proof of great looking bread!

  7. Don't they look delicious. Good idea to use hot tap water.

  8. A very good recipe, I made these this morning. I had to buy the yeast as I've always used the packets before but I'll be making these again for sure. Great to have a bread recipe that is ready to bake in such a short period of time. I didn't do the egg white wash so my loaves didn't have the pretty gloss but it didn't affect the taste at all! Thanks for posting this.

    Peggy from Kentucky