Yes, You Can Bake Bakery-Quality Baguettes At Home

Take a trip to France...without leaving your house.

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Picture this: You and your love are sitting on a blanket with a bottle of wine, wedge of Brie, and a freshly-baked baguette. The Eiffel Tower can be seen in the distance; you hear the music of a violin being played in the background. While this may sound like a far-off fantasy these days, with some imagination—and one special baking project—you can have the next best thing: A Parisian picnic in your living room. How? Start by making a bakery-quality baguette in your own kitchen.

Before you say, “but I’m not a professional baker,” let me interrupt and say, “neither am I.” Fortunately for all of us, Zachary Golper is and he came by to teach a course on mastering bread baking, now available in the Food Network Kitchen app. In his baguette class, the James Beard semifinalist for Outstanding Baker and chef/owner of Brooklyn’s renowned Bien Cuit breaks down everything from making the starter to the rolling and shaping process to effortlessly creating steam in your home oven.

Start with the starter.

This is nowhere near as demanding or time-consuming as a sourdough starter—promise! You really only need to mix together flour, water and yeast in a jar, then leave it alone for 10 to 16 hours. Whether you call this mixture poolish, levain or pre-ferment, it’s the secret to adding flavor complexity to your bread. Once the pre-ferment is ready, just mix in a few more ingredients and voila! The dough is done.

Roll and tuck, stretch and fold, then shape the dough.

As with most bread making, it’s essential to develop the gluten in the dough. Zachary shows us how to do this by rolling and tucking the dough. Then, he switches gears to strengthen the dough by stretching and folding it over onto itself, almost as if making pizza. Lastly, he shapes the dough into its signature log. While I could go into more extensive detail on this whole entire process, it’s far less intimidating to watch Zachary demonstrate in the class.

Create steam in your oven.

So you don’t have a commercial oven with a built-in steaming function? Zachary proves you don’t need one, as long as you have ice and a cast-iron skillet. Here’s how it works: Preheat the skillet in the oven on the bottom shelf, so it gets super hot. When you add the baguettes to the oven, fill the skillet with ice cubes. The ice will instantly turn to vapor. This process creates an optimal environment for steaming the bread, resulting in a baguette that has a crispy crust and soft interior.

To learn more of Zachary’s pro-tips and to start baking your own baguettes, head over to the Food Network Kitchen app. You're so close to the Parisian picnic of your (quarantine) dreams. Bon appetit!