Annie's Farmhouse Kitchen
Patricia Niven; Illustrations: Robin Cowcher


Quantity Ingredient
500g white strong flour
10g fine sea salt
10g instant dried yeast
350g lukewarm water, (weigh it, don't just pour it into a measuring jug)


  1. Mix together the flour and salt in a large bowl.
  2. Tip the dried yeast into the water and stir to dissolve.
  3. Add the water and yeast to the dry ingredients and mix with your fingers or a stout spatula until it comes together in a shaggy mass. Tip the mass onto a lightly floured board or workbench.
  4. Work the dough as follows: put your hands underneath it, lift it, slap it down on the board with a nice satisfying thwack, stretch the top of the dough out in front of you, then fold it back, taking care to do it gently, thus trapping air in between the layers. Do this over and over again (for 3–4 minutes) until the dough starts to form a homogenous smooth mass.
  5. Form the dough into a ball by folding the edges into the centre, pressing down with your thumb, rotating the dough, folding and pressing until you have a neatish ball.
  6. Put the dough back in the mixing bowl, cover with a tea towel and leave to rest somewhere warm and draught-free for about an hour or until doubled in size.
  7. Scrape the rested dough out of the bowl onto a lightly floured surface and cut it into four equal rectangles. Place a floured clean tea towel on the widest baking tray that will fit in your oven. Start with the first piece of dough and cover the others with a tea towel while you work. Pat it out to a 15 × 8 cm (6 × 31⁄4 in) rectangle. Fold the top half into the middle, and then fold the bottom half into the middle, pressing each seam with your fingers, then fold the top to the bottom and push those edges together.
  8. Now, pick up the dough and place it seam side down, pat out to a 20 × 10 cm (8 × 4 in) rectangle and repeat this process. This is called giving the baguette a spine. Once repeated, roll the dough between your hands, making points at each end and place it on the floured tea towel.
  9. Repeat with the remaining portions of dough, bunching up the tea towel to create a barrier between each baguette so they don’t stick together while proving. Cover the tray with a clean tea towel and leave the dough to prove in a warm place for 30 minutes.
  10. Preheat the oven to 240°C.
  11. While the bread is proving, put a roasting tin in the bottom of the oven and bring a kettle of water to the boil.
  12. When you are ready to bake, roll the baguettes gently onto a workbench and remove the tea towel. Lightly dust the tray. Use a sharp knife to slash the tops diagonally three to five times, then gently return to the tray. Open the oven and slide in the tray, then pour the boiling water into the roasting tin at the bottom and close the door.
  13. Bake for about 20 minutes or until golden and cooked through. Cool on a wire rack.

Just as a side note ...

  • ... if you’re not keen on the whole bread-baking business, this dough makes an absolutely ripper flatbread. Make the dough as above, then prove, cut into eight and roll into flat discs. Lightly oil the dough and grill in a very hot chargrill pan on both sides. It’s delicious.
French classics
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