Dan Leader's 4-Hour Baguette
Every week on Food52— often with your help — Food52’s Senior Editor Kristen Miglore is unearthing recipes that are nothing short of genius.
Today: You can make baguettes at home — in 4 hours, from nothing — and they’ll disappear faster than your favorite bakery’s.
Raise your hand if you’ve always wanted to get into the rhythm of baking your own bread. Now raise your hand if you’ve actually done it.
Too many of us have hesitated, then let the thought slip away. We froze at the technical abyss of caring for a sourdough starter, couldn’t commit to consecutive days of planning and tending. We don’t know what we’re making for dinner tonight, let alone in three days. (But one day we swear this will all come naturally, just as soon as we’ve got that wood-burning oven and proofing cabinet.)
Right. This recipe is the aggressive, no-more-excuses shove that we need.
It comes from Dan Leader, founder of Bread Alone, via William Alexander's IACP-award winning Saveur Magazine story on American Bread. Leader developed the recipe to fit in home cooks’ ovens and nestle into their schedules, with ingredients and equipment they’ve got nearby — but he told me, “If I had to make it at Bread Alone, I’d make this recipe.”
If I can make a really good baguette — in 4 hours, from nothing — you can too. It will have a resilient, toffee-colored crust and a honeycombed middle that huffs hot, yeasty air when you tear into it. The smell of it baking will simultaneously make you feel hungry, safe, and accomplished. It will taste like home and like Paris. It might have arrhythmic slashes across the top — some would call them unprofessional; I call them spunky. (If you want to look like a pro, buy a nice lame.)
And it will only take you 4 hours of intermittent attention, and won’t require a starter nor any equipment you don’t already own. You have an oven, baking sheets, an ice cube tray, a skillet, parchment, and a pair of scissors, right? (Don’t you love quizzes like this?) I’d bet you also have salt, flour, and water, probably even active dry yeast. (If not, the closest corner store does.)