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French Master Baker Éric Kayser’s Shares His Secrets

There are some bakers who spend their lives on a quest for the perfect baguette. I’ve spoken to a baker a while back who told me how he had drilled into the side of his domestic oven and had attached a rubber tube between it and his kettle to steam the oven…While I don’t recommend that you do this, I am really delighted to share a recipe and techniques for getting the perfect French baguette from the newly translated The Larousse Book of Bread.

Éric Kayser is one of France’s most famous and respected bakers, some say he is the best. Master baker and entrepreneur, Éric Kayser grew up in Alsace and is the fourth generation of a baking family. Éric is passionate about creating artisan bread and the book shows you how easy it is to make with clear instructions and excellent photography throughout making it a sumptuous gastronomic bible. With simple, full instructions and every detail of bread baking covered from Fougasse to a crusty split loaf, I think that this is set to be the go to book for many years.

I’m hoping to give the French a run for their money and get some photos sent in for the perfect English baguette – maybe from Basingstoke, Hull, or perhaps Gosport? So we have a signed copy to give away to the best photograph. Please send your entries through our Gallery page by the end of May after which I’ll choose the best one. For those of you who just want a signed copy anyway we have a VERY limited number to buy.

We see a lot of new baking books and don’t add many to our range, so I asked Vanessa for her comments on Larousse.

The book is fantastic. Eric has shared the secret of French baking with the world. The recipes are straightforward and the step-by-step photography is especially helpful to beginners. Eric uses the same traditional equipment that bakers have used for a century or more, such as a baker’s cloth (or couche) and a flipping board (or planchette à pain); my personal recommendation though, especially for people new to baking baguettes, would be to use a baguette baking tray. You prove and bake your baguettes on the same tray, which means you don’t need to move your proved baguettes from the cloth to the flipping board and then onto the baguette peel. It really does make things much easier for the home baker.

See the full and printable recipe on our blog.



Makes 3 baguettes, each about 300 g

TIMINGS • Mixing & kneading: 15 min • First resting: 1 h • First rising: 1 h 30 min • Second resting: 30 min • Proofing: 1 h 40 min • Baking: 20 min

INGREDIENTS • 500 g (4 cups) all-purpose (plain) flour, plus extra for dusting * • 325 g (scant 1 ⅓ cups) water at 68°f (20°c) • 100 g (scant ½ cup) liquid sourdough starter (or 25 g [3 tablespoons] dry sourdough starter) • 3 g (1 teaspoon) fresh baker’s yeast, crumbled • 10 g (2 teaspoons) salt

* The book has been translated for an international audience. For UK bakers, read this as “strong white flour” such as Mulino Marino “00”

KNEADING IN A STAND MIXER Put the flour and water in the bowl and mix for 4 minutes at low speed. Remove the bowl from the machine and cover it with a damp cloth. Leave to rest for 1 hour, then add the starter, fresh yeast, and salt. Knead with the dough hook for 4 minutes at low speed, then for 7 minutes at high speed.



KNEADING BY HAND Put the flour on a work surface or in a mixing bowl and make a large well in the centre. Pour in two-thirds of the water and mix until all the flour has been incorporated. Leave to rest for 1 hour under a damp cloth, then incorporate the rest of the water, the starter, fresh yeast, and salt. Knead the dough until it becomes smooth and elastic.

Shape into a ball and cover with a damp cloth. Let rise for 1 hour 30 minutes. It will have doubled? in volume by the end of the rising time.

Dust the work surface. Divide the dough into 3 equal pieces. Fold each piece over on itself, pulling gently to stretch into a longish log. Cover with a damp cloth and leave to rest for 30 minutes.

Working with 1 piece of dough at a time, use the palm of your hand to flatten it gently. With the long side facing you, fold in a third towards the centre and press along the edge with your fingertips [ 1 ]. Swivel the dough 180 degrees. Fold in the other long edge so that it overlaps in the centre and press with the heel of your hand. Fold one half on top of the other, and seal the edges together with the heel of your hand [ 2 ].



With lightly floured hands, roll the baguette out to 21 inches (55 cm) long, then pinch each end into a point [ 3 ]. Shape the other 2 baguettes the same way.

Carefully lift the baguettes onto a lightly floured baker’s cloth, seams underneath. Separate them by making folds in the cloth. Cover with a damp cloth and leave to proof for 1 hour 40 minutes, by which time the baguettes will have increased in volume [ 4 ].



Place a baking sheet on the bottom shelf of the oven and preheat to 450°F (230°C). Gently place the baguettes, seam down, on another baking sheet lined with parchment (baking) paper. Dust with flour and make 4 evenly spaced oblique slashes along the length of each baguette [ 5 ]. Just before putting the baguettes in the oven, pour 50 g ( roughly / approximately? ¼ cup) of water onto the preheated baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and leave to cool on a cooling rack.

Don’t forget to take a look at our clearance lines.

Baguette Baking Tray, Four-Up

Couche Proofing Linen by Running Metre

Flipping Board or Planchette à Pain

This non-stick baguette baking tray is designed to hold four baguettes of between 300g and 400g each. £9.00

Professional heavy-duty couche cloth (or baker's cloth) woven from 100% linen for proofing baguettes and batons, available from the roll per running metre and in three widths. £6.80

Wooden Rolling-Board, Flipping-Board or Planchette made from beech and perfect for moving baguette dough from a couche linen onto a peel £7.99




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