Bread machine baguette

Baguettes are a wonderful thing, but making a proper baguette requires multiple touch-points over an extended length of time. It’s not difficult by any means, just time intensive.

Since I own a bread machine I thought there must be a way to automate the dough. However the Internet does not appear to have (yet!) any recipes for that:

  • Have sufficient rise time. In order to develop the yeast for a baguette you need to let the dough work for a minimum of 9 hours.
  • Utilize a poolish. This is key to developing the yeast.
  • Bake at the right temperature. This type of bread needs to be baked at 470°F, which you can’t do in a bread maker, so you need to remove the dough before the bake cycle and finish it in the oven.
  • Use the right ingredients. A baguette is made from only flour, water, salt (2% by weight), and yeast (only a pinch).

I set our to change this. After some experimentation I discovered a very quick and easy way to make an excellent baguette at home with very little effort utilizing a Zojirushi BB-PAC20BA in “HOME MADE” mode. The first “trick” is to assemble the dry ingredients on the bottom of the bread maker (the opposite of what you would normally do).

Place in the bread maker, in this order:

  • A pinch of yeast on one side
  • 1 tsp (10g) salt on the opposite side
  • 300g bread flour*

Mix a poolish by combining:

  • A pinch of yeast
  • 1 and 1/4 cup water
  • 180g bread flour*

Carefully pour the poolish over the dry ingredients, being careful to not to mix them.

Program the bread machine (on my Zojirushi this is done in “HOME MADE” mode):

  • 0 minutes rest
  • 20 minutes knead
  • 60 minutes rise 1
  • 60 minutes rise 2
  • 60 minutes rise 3
  • 0 minutes bake
  • 0 minutes keep warm

The second “trick” is to execute this custom program on a timer. Set the bread machine to finish in 9 hours*. This will allow the poolish to develop for 6 hours, and the dough to rise over another 3 hours. Go to sleep, or get on with your day!

When the cycle is complete, pull the dough out onto a floured surface, divide in half and roll into two loaves. Bake at 470°F for about 10-12 minutes. For a crispy, crackly exterior, throw about a half cup of water into the bottom of the oven in the final minutes–the steam will crisp up bread.

*I’ve tried this recipe with several flours, and I prefer it with Gold Medal Bread Flour. For King Arthur Bread Flour (which has higher protein content ) increase the water to 1 3/8 cups and allow at least 11 hours total time.