Making sourdough baguettes can be challenging. The best sourdough baguettes, in my opinion, have a crusty exterior and a soft inside with large holes. A baked baguette that is on the flat side makes a great crusty sandwich. A crusty round baguette, however, is best for breaking off pieces and eating with homemade soup or cheese, and wine.
Below are some tips about making sourdough baguettes that I have learned along the way:
- To get that crusty exterior, baguettes need to bake at very high heat — above 450 degrees.
- The more hydration you have the larger the air holes inside the baguette. However, very high hydration can make the dough difficult to handle and it spreads out if not contained.
- Do not use spray oil in your metal pan, it makes the bottom of your baguette soft.
- Slash the baguette 3 times, fairly deeply at a parallel angle down the top of the baguette right before putting them in the oven.
- Heating up metal pans or the stone before you put the dough into them, makes for crustier bread.
- Place the shaped baguettes on a preheated stone or metal container on parchment paper, but remove the paper as the baguettes begin to brown on top. This will help the bottoms turn crusty too. You can also turn the baguette upside down once the tops look nice and brown and bake them until they also look brown.
- Spray the baguettes with water before putting them in the oven.
- Place a pan of water in your oven as the oven heats up. This creates a steamy oven and will help create a nice crust on your bread. It is a good idea to remove the pan partway through so that it does not block the heating element on the bottom.
Somebody Feed Seb has detailed directions for making a wonderful baguette.