what? bread?

a blog about making bread at home

Paul Hollywood’s Baguettes

I wondered how long it would be before he got out a machine to do the hard work. Really, a machine that can cost hundreds of pounds needed to make a mix of 250g of flour? I think not. If you don’t have a food mixer then don’t despair, all you need is a bit more time in the preparatory period. Let’s do it the Dan Lepard way instead, but we’ll use Paul’s ingredients. Of course you could just knead it by hand the Paul Hollywood way, but this is a bit easier.

So, put all the ingredients in a bowl. flour, oil, salt, yeast and water. I’m using fresh yeast today and warm water not cold, because my kitchen is positively Baltic and I want to give it a chance to get going. Warm water means 1 part boiling water to 3 parts cold tap water, it should not be warm to the touch. I also cut the salt by half. Let’s also not get into arguments as to whether proper baguettes need a lot of olive oil slopping in, we’re just going with it today. If you want a loaf without a lot of oil, try the Hairy Biker’s version from the Bakeation book, but you need another day or two to get that one going.


Mix it all up, with a fork or fingers, it doesn’t matter, into a rough ball. Leave it for 10 minutes.


Oil the work surface, tip it out, pat it down then do a Dan Lepard knead, just fold it over on itself 10 or 12 times. Leave for another 10 minutes.

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Knead again, leave again, knead again, then we’re back into Paul’s recipe so pop it in a bowl for about 2 hours, I left mine for about an hour and a half.
And it was all nice and stretchy.

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I don’t have a fancy baguette tray either so today they’re going on a heavily floured tea towel for the rise.

The online recipe doesn’t have the semolina mix that the TV programme did, so I’m leaving that off as well.

I put a baking tray in the oven to get nice and hot before I put the bread in, and I did steam the oven. And I reduced the total baking time by 10 minutes by doing that.

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Slightly disappointed that they didn’t spring much in the oven, but they were quite crunchy and went down well with some cheese and salad.


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11 thoughts on “Paul Hollywood’s Baguettes

  1. BarkingP on said:

    On the contrary I really think we should have an argument about whether there should be olive oil in it, because essentially by including it what you’re making isn’t a baguette. Also the recipe calls for an insanely unhealthy amount of salt, apart from which 5g in a mix this size is very likely going to inhibit the dough from rising. There are plenty of better recipes out there including only flour, water, yeast and a fraction of the amount of salt.

    Proper baguettes will use French T55 flour, obtainable but expensive in the UK, but I’ve found 1/5 plain flour to 4/5 bread flour is a good substitute. A proper baguette pan for cooking them is a godsend, however: they make the loaf retain a much better rounded profile which not only looks the part but helps improve the crumb during cooking.

    • I couldn’t agree more! They are long loaves with lots of oil in and ‘proper’ French bread doesn’t have that. Did you see my page about the salt levels of PH’s recipes? http://wp.me/p2j8wW-dh

      • BarkingP on said:

        No, I hadn’t seen that but it’s all very true. Now I am a bit of a salt monster although I (for which read “my wife”) does try to keep these urges in check. I still find I yearn for slightly more saltiness in (particularly) home-made wholemeal loaves, but I am gradually re-acclimatising myself. With baguettes, however, I don’t miss it at all. It’s really not needed except in tiny quantities.

      • I think PH could have spent some time talking about both the oil and salt content of his bread and why he puts so much in, rather than just saying here it is, and also suggest that home bakers can adjust the amounts. When you have bread that has lots of salt in it is ‘nice’ because you get a sort of salty ‘rush’ like eating crisps, but it isn’t good for us to have too much anyway, and is an easy enough thing to cut down on.

  2. Stephen Furlong on said:

    I’ve tried Paul Hollywood’s recipe a couple of time now, and have had the same problem both times – the dough is so wet that it won’t keep its baguette shape while proving. I even bought a ridged silicone baguette tray from Lakeland to help with this, but the rising dough just flattens it out. Any thoughts?

    • Hello – I haven’t made Paul’s recipe that often. I have some tips regarding bread not rising over here http://wp.me/p2j8wW-e4 which might help. A bit less water and a bit more kneading and shaping perhaps. There are metal trays available which won’t sag. I don’t like silicone trays generally for anything that rises as they always push out of shape.

  3. BarkingP on said:

    My thought would be to avoid Paul Hollywood’s recipe! Try this instead, which I got from a French website:

    75g Plain Flour
    300g Strong Bread Flour

    (or better still, 375g of French T55 flour – but the above is fine)

    215ml (= 215g) water with a teaspoon of dried yeast dissolved
    1 x level teaspoon of salt

    It doesn’t need hours of battering or pummeling – just enough to mix it thoroughly into an homogenous paste. I do this in a glass bowl, cover with cling film and leave overnight at coolish room temperature. In the morning divide in half (this makes two small loaves) and shape by rolling into a sausage and then flattening to form an elongated pitta bread shape. Fold both long sides into the middle, pinch together and gently roll it to reform the sausage shape without squashing it – this traps some air inside which helps the texture. Don’t worry if it looks as if it might unroll itself – it will be fine providing you lay it seam-side down in your baguette pan. Slash the top and leave it for an hour somewhere warmish to recover while you heat the oven to 220 C; put a tray of water in the bottom to create some steam and it will take 20 – 25mins.

    I know lots of people swear that it’s all in the kneading, but quite honestly I’ve found that giving it time is far more important than doing it violence. It works for me. Give it a go and see what you think.

  4. Stephen Furlong on said:

    Thanks, that sounds great. I’ll give it a go and let you know how I get on. Is the T55 flour easy to come by?

  5. Good point, well made, thanks for that recipe. I don’t think the stupormarkets sell T55 as such but you might get it from a delicatessen type place or online from independent millers like Claybrooke Mill http://www.claybrookewatermill.co.uk/fl
    ours.html and Wessex Mill (theirs is T65) http://www.wessexmill.co.uk/acatalog/frenchbreadflour.html

  6. BarkingP on said:

    The major supermarkets don’t stock it, but places like wholefood stores often have T55 flour from specialists like Wessex Mill or Dove Farm. It is expensive, though. I’m lucky enough to spend a lot of time in France and bring it back by the car load – their supermarket value ranges are very cheap and give as good results as the posh brands. If you can’t get it then the plain flour / bread flour mix really is pretty good; it comes out slightly denser but is still recognisably proper baguette type.

    The guy in this video shows the folding technique quite well:

    He does roll them out far thinner than I do, but that’s really down to personal preference.

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