Homemade Baguettes

Adapted from Water Salt Flour Yeast and King Arthur Flour. Serves 4.



Poolish (your dough starter):

  • 3 3/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 2 1/4 cups water
  • 1/8 teaspoon yeast

Final dough:

  • 3 3/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon yeast


  1. Create the poolish about 18 hours before you want to bake the bread by mixing all the ingredients together in a large bowl, covering it with a tea towel, and allowing it to sit at room temperature for 12-14 hours.
  2. When the poolish is nice and bubbly (with lots of small bubbles covering the surface), begin the final dough by pouring the 1 1/8 cups water around the edge of the poolish. This will loosen it. In a separate bowl, mix the remaining “final dough” ingredients together. Dump the poolish and water into this bowl, and use your hands to mix the poolish and final dough until they are completely combined.
  3. Set the dough aside, covering the bowl with a tea towel, to rise for 2-3 hours, working it at intervals:
  4. After the first 30 minutes of rising, pull on a section of dough until it almost feels like it is going to rip. Repeat with additional sections until you’ve worked all the sections of dough. (This builds up the gluten.) Let the dough rest for another 30 minutes, and then repeat the pulling process. Do this one more time in the course of the dough’s 2-3 hour rising.
  5. After dough has risen, preheat oven to 425. Divide dough into four equal sections and shape each section into a rectangle on a floured surface. Let the rectangles rest 15 minutes so they’re easier to work with. Fold the dough over (like you’re making a quesadilla). Seal the edge and fold it over again.
  6. With floured hands on a floured surface, roll the dough until it is long and just a little less than the width of a finished baguette–it will continue to rise before and during baking.
  7. Transfer baguettes to a lightly floured tea towel and push the towel around the edges of the baguettes so the baguettes nest in them. Cover them and let them rise about 15 minutes.
  8. Remove the baguette dough from the towel and place baguettes on a parchment-lined baking sheet, making sure the floured side of the baguettes face down. Cut them with three slashes apiece.
  9. Using clean, wet hands, sprinkle water on the baguettes. The steam will make the loaves develop a nice crust. Add a loaf pan filled with water to the bottom rack of your stove to create more steam.
  10. Bake 30-40 minutes or until baguettes are a rich brown.