It might seem ironic that the first recipe on this blog is completely lacking home-grown ingredients. But self-sufficiency takes time, and by making things from scratch, we are still taking control of the food we eat and lessening our dependence on the grocery store.
Cue: our Basic Baguette recipe. This is our go-to, all-time-favourite bread recipe because it is so simple and so good! And it comes straight from the French village where Fabien was born, so it has that little taste of home for him too.
The great thing about bread is that it’s way easier to make than most people imagine, and it only requires four basic ingredients: flour, yeast, water and salt. Beyond that, the flavour world is your oyster.
Some flavours you maybe don’t realize you’re indulging in when purchasing most bagged store-bought breads are: added sweeteners, preservatives and additives to improve texture and extend shelf life. There are also a lot of flours out there, including those with chemical additives, bleaching agents and preservatives. So do your research, read the labels, and make sure the bread you’re eating or flour you’re using is good for you!
I have to admit that this recipe took me a few tries to get the hang of. It comes all the way from a tiny village, smack dab in the middle of France. Before Fabien’s family left for Canada, his mom approached the baker at their local boulangerie for his baguette recipe. As you would expect, the recipe she received was large enough to supply bread to their entire village and had to be reduced considerably. After many attempts, she finally mastered it and now makes bread as easily as she walks and breathes. Which is why, when Fabien and I requested the recipe ourselves, it came with instructions such as “add water until the dough is moist” and “bake in a hot oven until golden brown.”
It turns out, after attempting the recipe a time or two myself, that those instructions are understandably vague. The amount of water depends on the humidity in the room. The cooking time and temperature varies by oven. And I can say both of these confidently since we have made this bread on the incredibly humid east coast, the freezing and bone-dry prairies, and now the more temperate west side of the country. Each environment affects the dough, and each oven has its quirks.
So basically, if making this bread, keep in mind that the recipe can (and probably should) be slightly modified. And don’t worry – it only has 5 ingredients, so not too much can go wrong! It’s delicious warm, freezes well, and makes excellent French toast if it lasts long enough to go stale 🙂
You will need:
- 2 tsp active dry yeast
- 1/2 tsp sugar
- 1 heaping tsp salt
- 1 kg all purpose flour
- warm water
How to make:
- Combine yeast, sugar and 1/4 cup warm water. Stir well and let rest 5-10 minutes.
- In a different bowl, combine flour and salt. Mix well.
- Once yeast has risen, make a small hole in flour mixture and pour in yeast, plus 2 cups warm water.
- Gently mix the dough together until combined. You want it to be slightly sticky but not wet. You may need to add up to 1 more cup of warm water to achieve this consistency (add it slowly to ensure you don’t pour in too much).
- Cover dough and let rest 1-2 hours.
- Remove one oven rack, line with parchment paper and preheat oven to 415°F
- Remove dough from bowl and knead it until it takes on an elastic-like consistency.
- Split the dough into 2 balls and roll each out into a long snake.
- Place each dough snake onto rack (lined with parchment).
- Bake 18-20 minutes, then broil 2 minutes.
- Let cool 5 minutes and enjoy!
*Side note: I tend to make chubbier baguettes than Fabien. Either way they are delicious. Cooking time just needs to be adjusted depending on thickness.