A simple, yet flavorful Pain Ordinaire, or everyday French baguette. This bread is great for munching with cheese or accompanying dinner.
Pain ordinaire literally translates literally from French as ‘ordinary Bread’. But a better translation is ‘daily bread’.
To say the French love their bread, might be an understatement. When I lived in Paris, my host father would head out each morning to get his newspaper and the baguette for the day. And, let me tell you, there is nothing like tearing into the still warm, crisp and crackly crust of a fresh baguette.
Unfortunately, in the States we don’t have the luxury of a bakery on every corner. And, while not many of us would venture to make a loaf each day, this recipe is so simple, that you really could.
Making a classic French baguette
This classic French baguette has enough flavor to be enjoyed alone, but is also the perfect accompaniment to any meal.
If you would like a good look at how to properly shape a baguette, take a look at this YouTube clip. He goes through the whole baguette-making process, but we are just looking for the final shaping, which you will find at minutes 2:20-3:20. (I am not in any way affiliated with the video. I just find it a good visual.)
- 1 ½ c warm water (105-115F)
- 1 tsp active dry yeast
- 1 tsp sugar
- 4 – 4 ½ c all-purpose flour
- ½ tsp salt
- Sesame seeds (optional, for topping)
- Pour warm water into a large bowl. Sprinkle yeast and sugar over the water, and let stand until the yeast begins to foam (5 min).
- Gently stir in 2 c of flour into the water until combined.
- Add the salt and 2 more cups of flour until the mixture forms a stiff dough, adding more flour if necessary.
- Tip dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead 8-10 minutes, until smooth and elastic. If necessary, use the additional ½ c of flour to keep the dough from sticking as you knead.
- Transfer dough to a greased bowl, turn to coat the dough with oil, and let rise, covered, in a warm, draft-free place until doubled in bulk ( 1 ½ hours).
- Place the dough onto a lightly floured surface. Press gently to degas slightly. And, shape into a baguette, roughly 21” long. (I like to divide the dough into two and make two smaller baguettes, simply for ease of fitting them on a baking sheet.)
- Place baguette(s) onto a baking sheet and let rise, lightly covered, for roughly 30 min.
- About 20 min into this last rising time, preheat oven to 400F.
- Using a sharp knife, make 3-4 diagonal slashes deep into the dough (roughly ½ inch). Sprinkle the top with cool water and sesame seeds if desired.
- Bake 30-40 min or until deep golden in color.
- Immediately transfer to a wire rack to cool.