Over the past two and a half years I became comfortable baking rustic breads  using wild yeast.  The baguette, however, gave me lesson after lesson in humility. Baguettes are deceptively simple to prepare, but if you seek a bread with Parisian quality, then each step of preparation must be flawless: bulk fermentation, shaping, final proofing, and baking.  I’ve tried many recipes, but they never quite matched the superb baguettes of the 7th Arrondisement, where we used to live.

That all changed during our recent trip home.  I was looking forward to baking a  sourdough bread in our own kitchen, and decided on sourdough baguettes.  I followed the detailed instructions of TxFarmer, one of the most accomplished bakers of The Fresh Loaf Forum, and voila‘,  the baguettes from my own oven were just the way I’d hoped for…


(recipe found at The Fresh Loaf forum)

150 g very active sourdough starter (at 100% hydration)
425g all purpose flour
300g cold water
10g salt

Mix water and flour into a lumpy mass, cover and place in the fridge for 12 hours.

Remove from the fridge, add the starter and salt to the dough, and mix until distributed. The dough will be very sticky, but you should resist the temptation to add more flour. Allow it to rise at room temperature for 2 to 3 hours, kneading by the “stretch and fold method” every 30 minutes. The dough may rise about 30% of its total volume. Place the dough covered in the fridge for 24 hours.

Remove the dough from the fridge and let it warm up for 1 to 2 hours – you want it to rise but not get overly bubbly, because that will make shaping very tricky later. Divide the dough in four pieces, taking care not to deflate it too much. Place each piece over floured parchment paper, and let it relax for 40 minutes.

Shape each one as a baguette (for a nice tutorial, click here), proof for 30 to 50 minutes, and bake with initial steam at 460 F for 25 minutes.

Let it completely cool before slicing.


to print the recipe, click here

Comments: When Txfarmer described this recipe as “everything I know in one bread,”  she meant it. She baked multiple batches to perfect it, and made it clear that you need a good “feel” for the dough to get good results. That’s why the initial stretch and fold cycle varies from 2 to 3 hours, depending on the ‘strength” (gluten development) of your dough. The final rise at room temperature will also change depending on the temperature of your kitchen, and how much “lift” the starter provided during the 24 hour fermentation in the fridge. If you are new to bread baking, particularly using wild yeast, all these variables are intimidating. But if you’ve baked your share of sourdough breads, then consider making a batch of these baguettes, which taste incredibly good! The crumb is open, the taste surprisingly mellow, with an almost “sweet” component, hard to imagine in a sourdough.

You may have noticed that my individual baguettes ended with different types of crusts. The difference lies in how I generated steam during baking. Two baguettes were baked with an inverted roasting pan (sightly wet) on top: they developed a nice, shiny crust, with a “caramel” color. The other two baguettes were baked in a perforated pan, with steam coming from water poured in a cast iron pan placed at the bottom of the oven. Their crust is less shiny, but they had more oven spring. My favorite method is the inverted roasting pan, but it has a major drawback: I can only bake one baguette at a time.

If you dream of perfecting baguettes at home, you MUST try TxFarmer’s recipe. Many bakers already did, and raved about it (check the discussion at The Fresh Loaf Forum by clicking here).

I am submitting this post to Susan’s Yeastspotting event…

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ONE YEAR AGO: Potato and Leek Braise

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(receita de TxFarmer)

150 g de “sourdough starter” com 100% de hidratacao
425g de farinha de trigo comum
300g (ml) de agua fria
10g de sal

Misture a água e a farinha em uma tigela, ate’ que fique uma massa nao muito homogenea. Cubra com plastico e coloque na geladeira por 12 horas.

Retire da geladeira, adicione o sal e o “sourdough starter” à massa e misture até ficar bem homogeneo. A massa sera’ bem pegajosa, mas resista à tentação de adicionar mais farinha. Deixe crescer em temperatura ambiente por 2 a 3 horas, usando o metodo de esticar e dobrar a massa a cada meia hora. A massa pode crescer cerca de 30% do seu volume total. Coloque a massa coberta na geladeira por 24 horas.

Retire a massa da geladeira e deixe aquecer por 1 a 2 horas. Divida a massa em quatro pedaços, tomando cuidado para não perder muito do volume adquirido durante a fermentacao. Coloque cada pedaço em papel manteiga polvilhado com farinha e deixe descansar por 40 minutos.

Forme cada um como uma baguette, e deixe fermentar por mais 30 a 50 minutos. Asse em forno bem quente por 25 minutos, usando vapor nos primeiros 10 minutos.

Deixe esfriar por completo antes de cortar e servir.


  1. Pingback: L’hebdo du pain // Weekly Bread (n°9, 18 octobre 2010) – VOTRE PAIN

  2. Thanks for trying the recipe and you certainly made it your own! Very nice! Next time you are home we must get together and have a baking/eating session! 🙂


    • I “think” I cracked the code… 🙂 Of course, with bread baking one should never be too quick to say that, we all know what might happen next

      Let’s say I’m looking forward to making them again….


  3. Well I started making these and ran out of white flour so had to use wholemeal spelt. They are the best with a fantastic open crumb and thank you so much for the recipe.


  4. It looked very promising but I ended up with such a wet dough that was akin to ciabatta dough than anything else. Forget about slashing! Don’t know where things went wrong.


    • Very sorry to hear they did not work for you…. I hope that it still tasted good and you could “ciabatta-it” and not be to disappointed… I hate when a recipe doesn’t work!


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