Sourdough Baguette Recipe | Chocolate & Zucchini (2024)

[Baguettes au levain]

When I started to bake bread on a weekly basis, I thought following a baguette recipe was out-of-reach territory: I would bake the kind of loaves I love — a hearty crust (but not too dark at the bottom), an open crumb (but one that’s still tight enough to withstand a good spread of dairy or almond butter), great flavor from a slow fermentation, and a nutritious blend of organic flours — but I would always go and get my Piccola baguette from the Coquelicot bakery on place des Abbesses.

After a while though, having baked enough boules (round loaves) in a closed vessel (a pyrex cocotte in my case) to become really good friends with my starter, I decided to graduate to baking bread on a stone.

From the very first attempt, the result was squeal-worthy: a good oven spring, crunchy tips and crust, a crumb that feels springy and alive and, more important, a fragrant and flavorful bread.

A baking stone is fantastic for bread-baking: it absorbs heat as the oven preheats and retains it even as you open and close the oven door, which prevents the temperature in the oven from dropping dramatically when you put in the loaves. Additionally, bread dough that is plopped on a very hot surface rises beautifully: instead of spreading out first, then rising up, it seems a lot more motivated to rise upward from the moment it hits the blazing hot stone (I would too).

My first loaves on the baking stone were free-form bâtards — elongated oval loaves — because it was easier to fit two of those on my square baking stone, and I noticed that the crumb was more open than what I got when baking boules. I made a few more of those, and then I thought, what are baguettes if not thin bâtards? And why didn’t I just make baguettes?

Perfecting the baguette recipe

The baguettes one buys in French bakeries are rarely leavened with a natural starter, and when they are (baguette au levain), the starter is generally coupled with commercial yeast (it is worth asking). The flour that is used is a white wheat flour that often contains additives, and both of these characteristics account for their particularly light, aerated crumb.

What I wanted, on the other hand, was a baguette leavened with a natural sourdough starter only, made with a blend of organic flours that included some partially whole wheat, so I knew I wouldn’t get quite the same texture, but it would be a baguette in its own right.

After reading the reports of fellow starter enthusiasts for tips, and watching a few shaping videos, I felt about ready.

And indeed, from the very first attempt, the result was squeal-worthy: a good oven spring had pulled the slashed slits wide open, the tips and crust were crunchy enough that, when squeezed, the baguettes let out that delightful crackling sound, the crumb felt springy and alive, it was full of holes of various sizes and, more important, fragrant and flavorful.

I wish I could bottle the feeling I get when I watch my baguettes rise through the oven door, then super-peel them out and listen to them chirp as they cool.

I have baked a number of batches since that day, and if I could bottle the feeling I get when I watch my baguettes rise through the oven door, then super-peel them out and listen to them chirp as they cool, I would pose a major threat to antidepressant manufacturers.

We do, however, continue to go out and buy baguettes from Coquelicot on a regular basis, especially when we have friends over: as tickling as it would be to serve a meal that’s homemade right down to the baguettes, it’s just not realistic for me to cook dinner and bake bread on the same day — not if I want to stay awake throughout the evening anyway. But home-baked bread makes quite an impression as a host(ess) gift, I’ve noticed, so that’s my favored way of sharing.

Tips for making this baguette recipe

I should note that my baguettes are, in fact, demi-baguettes (half-baguettes), due to the limited width of my home oven. You can make them slimmer and call them ficelles or flûtes (literally, strings or flutes), if you prefer, dividing the dough into six rather than four pieces, but then you’ll have to bake them in batches, otherwise they won’t have enough elbow room for optimal air circulation. Conversely, you can divide the dough into just two pieces to make bâtards. In all cases, remember to adjust the baking time to the size of the loaves.

Because the dough needs to rest in the fridge for 12 to 24 hours, it means you can really make it work within your own schedule: I generally feed my starter in the morning on day 1, make the dough in the afternoon when the starter is ripe, then bake the baguettes in the morning or in the afternoon on day 2.

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Sourdough Starter Baguettes Recipe

Makes 4 baguettes.

Sourdough Baguette Recipe | Chocolate & Zucchini (3)


  • 200 grams (7 ounces) ripe "100%" natural starter (see note, plus picture below)
  • 600 grams (21 ounces) wheat flour or a mix of flours (I use one third T65, one third T80, one third T110, i.e. a mix of white and partially whole wheat flours)
  • 400 grams (14 ounces) purified water
  • 1 tablespoon powdered gluten (optional, but useful if you're working with French flours, which tend to be on the soft -i.e. low-gluten -side; you'll find it in natural food stores)
  • 10 grams (2 teaspoons) sea salt (I use unrefined gray salt from Guérande)
  • Useful (but not mandatory) equipment:

  • a flexible dough scraper such as this one, this one or this one
  • a plastic shower cap (the kind you get in hotel bathrooms)
  • a dough cutter (you can use the straight edge of the dough scraper, but a dough cutter is sharper and more efficient)
  • a linen kitchen towel you will reserve for your bread-making (I bought mine in bulk at the Marché Saint-Pierre fabric store in Paris)
  • a square or rectangular baking stone (mine came with my oven and is a 35-cm [13-3/4-inch] square)
  • a pizza peel
  • a baker's blade


    0. Day One: Check that your starter is ripe.

  1. Your starter is ready for use when it looks a little puffy and has some bubbles on the surface, but not too many; see picture below. In normal Paris weather conditions, my starter reaches this point about 6 hours after I've fed it its own weight in flour and its own weight in water. (I start with 65 grams starter and feed it 70 grams flour plus 70 grams water, which results in 205 grams ripe starter -the extra 5 grams account for what will stay on the sides of the bowl and on the spatula).
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    1. Day One: Prepare the dough.

  3. In a large mixing bowl, or in the bowl of your stand mixer, combine the flours, water, starter, and gluten if using, until the mixture forms a shaggy mass and all the flour is incorporated. (I stir by hand with the dough hook first, then run my KitchenAid mixer on speed 1 for 20 seconds, just until everything is combined; you could use a dough whisk or a simple wooden spoon.)
  4. Let the mixture sit for 20 to 40 minutes. This is the autolyse step: it allows the flour to absorb the water before the salt has a chance to draw it away.
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  6. Add the salt, and knead with the dough hook on low speed for 5 minutes. If you're working by hand, and don't feel comfortable kneading such a shaggy dough on the counter, you can simply "fold" the dough over itself with a dough scraper, as demonstrated in this video, for about 7 minutes.
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    2. Day One to Two: Ferment the dough.

  8. Cover with a kitchen towel and let the dough rest at room temperature for 1 hour. After an hour, fold the dough over itself (as demonstrated in this video) about a dozen times -this helps give oxygen to the yeasts in the dough, it develops the flavors and builds a well-structured crumb -and cover with the kitchen towel again.
  9. Let rest for 1 hour and fold again as above.
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  11. (At this point, I transfer the dough to a different bowl -- 2 liters/quarts in capacity -- because the bowl of my KitchenAid does not fit in my fridge, but this is optional.)
  12. Apply a piece of plastic wrap directly on top of the dough, and a shower cap around the rim of the bowl. Push the shower cap down until it touches the plastic wrap -you want the cover to be somewhat airtight -and place the bowl in the fridge for 12 to 24 hours. (Note: when I'm all done baking, I let the plastic wrap dry so I can shake off the little flakes of dough, and save the plastic wrap and the shower cap for use with my next loaf.)
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    3. Day Two: Shape the baguettes.

  14. Remove the bowl from the fridge; the dough should have about doubled in size.
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  16. Remove the plastic wrap and replace it with the kitchen towel. Let the dough come back to room temperature, about 1 hour.
  17. Place a square or rectangular baking stone on the middle rack of your oven and preheat it to 300°C (570°F) or whatever the highest temperature setting is on your oven, for 30 minutes. If you don't have a baking stone, preheat the oven to 240°C (460°C) and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  18. Have ready a well floured linen kitchen towel that you will reserve for this use (no need to wash it after baking; the more you flour and use it, the less it will stick).
  19. Turn the dough out onto a well floured surface (I dust an old silicone baking mat heavily with flour). Divide it into four pieces of equal size; it's hard to get them to be identical, just do your best, or use a scale to adjust.
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  21. Shape each piece into a log, as demonstrated in the first half of this video. This is called preshaping. Give the logs a short rest, 5 to 10 minutes.
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  23. Roll each log on the counter to elongate their shape, but make them no longer than the width of your baking stone (or cookie sheet). After shaping each baguette, place it on the floured kitchen towel and pull the cloth up on each side to form a ridge that will support its shape (see picture below). Cover with a kitchen towel and allow to rest for the remainder of the preheating.
  24. (Note: I normally try to get a "tighter" shaping of my loaves, but because I was taking step-by-step pictures, I seemed to get a slight case of stage fright.)

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    4. Day Two: Create steam in the oven.

  25. During the last 5 minutes of preheating, insert a rimmed baking sheet in the lowest rack of the oven, underneath the pizza stone. Bring about 360 ml (1 1/2 cups) water to the boil in the kettle.
  26. Just before you're ready to insert the baguettes in the oven, make sure you wear something with long sleeves and put on an oven mitt. Using a vessel with a pouring spout (such as a measuring jug), pour half of the boiling water into the rimmed baking sheet -it will sizzle and steam and it will be a bit scary -and close the oven door right away.
  27. This is to create a nice, steamy environment, to foster the formation of a nice crust. Be careful not to burn yourself as you do this -that is what the long sleeve and oven mitt are for -and keep kids and pets out of the kitchen for this step.
  28. (Shown below is my oven setup; the picture was taken after the baguettes were baked, which explains the presence of flour on the stone.)

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    5. Day Two: Slash and bake the baguettes.

  29. If you're using a baking stone, place 2 of the baguettes on a well-floured pizza peel; if you've noticed your baguettes are not quite all the same size, start with the two biggest ones. Slash each of them 3 times with a baker's blade or a sharp knife, working the blade at a 45° angle. Slide them onto the pizza stone, working quickly to prevent the heat and steam from escaping.
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  31. Repeat with the 2 remaining baguettes. Pour the remaining water into the rimmed baking sheet, and lower the temperature to 220°C (430°F).
  32. If you don't have a baking stone, arrange the four baguettes on the prepared cookie sheet. Slash them as directed and insert into the middle rack of the oven. Pour the remaining water into the rimmed baking sheet, but don't lower the temperature.
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  34. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, rearranging them after 15 minutes so the ones at the front of the oven will be in the back and vice versa, until the baguettes are golden brown, and sound hollow when tapped at the bottom. If the color is good but they sound like they could use a little more baking, turn off the oven and leave the baguettes in for another 5 to 10 minutes.
  35. Transfer to a rack to cool for an hour before eating.


A “100%” starter is fed an equal weight of flour and water at every feeding. To learn more about starters, please refer to my post on natural starter bread.

Unless otherwise noted, all recipes are copyright Clotilde Dusoulier.

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Sourdough Baguette Recipe | Chocolate & Zucchini (2024)


What is the secret to good sourdough bread? ›

Top 10 Tips & Tricks for Making Sourdough
  • Use your sourdough starter at its peak. ...
  • Moisten the surface of the dough before baking for more rise. ...
  • Handle with care: be gentle with your dough. ...
  • Use sifted flour to make your sourdough less dense. ...
  • Soak your flour beforehand for a lighter loaf. ...
  • Just add water for softer sourdough.

What is the difference between a French baguette and a sourdough baguette? ›

What is the difference between a French baguette and a sourdough baguette? Traditional baguettes are made with commercial yeast as the leavening agent. However, sourdough baguettes use active sourdough starter (which contains wild yeast) as the leavening agent.

Is sourdough good for your gut? ›

Sourdough bread may be easier to digest than white bread for some people. According to some studies, sourdough bread acts as a prebiotic, which means that the fiber in the bread helps feed the “good” bacteria in your intestines. These bacteria are important for maintaining a stable, healthy digestive system.

What is the difference between artisan baguette and French baguette? ›

Standard baguettes, baguettes ordinaires, are made with baker's yeast, and artisan-style loaves are usually made with a pre-ferment (poolish) to increase flavor complexity and other characteristics. They may include whole-wheat flour or other grains such as rye.

What is the best flour for sourdough bread? ›

Whole wheat flour is an excellent choice for creating a sourdough starter due to its nutrient-rich composition and potential for fostering a robust microbial community. However, it's important to note that the quality of whole wheat flour can vary between brands.

How do you make sourdough bread lighter and fluffier? ›

There are several ways to make sourdough bread lighter and less dense, such as:
  1. Increasing the hydration level of your dough, which means adding more water or using less flour. ...
  2. Switching up the type of flour you use, or using a mixture of different flours.
Nov 15, 2015

Are sourdough baguettes healthy? ›

Bread made with whole grains provides a higher nutritional value as well as helps to control cholesterol levels and blood pressure. Similarly, sourdough baguettes are packed with nutrients due to the wild yeast used in the dough and the slow fermentation process.

What is sourdough called in France? ›

Pain de campagne ("country bread" in French), also called "French sourdough", is typically a large round loaf ("miche") made from either natural leavening or baker's yeast.

What bread is closest to a baguette? ›

Ficelle. Ficelle means “string” in French, and it refers to the extra-skinny look of this bread. It's basically a skinny baguette, and it boasts the same chewy texture and firm crust.

Is it OK to eat sourdough bread everyday? ›

Is it healthy to eat sourdough everyday? You could eat sourdough every day, but it isn't necessarily healthy to do so. A healthy diet is characterized by balance and moderation. Whether or not it is healthy for you to consume sourdough every day depends on the rest of your diet.

Can diabetics eat sourdough bread? ›

People with diabetes can eat sourdough bread or any other bread that fits into their dietary plan. That said, because sourdough has a lower glycemic index than other bread varieties, it can be a particularly good choice if you're watching your blood sugar levels.

What is the healthiest flour for sourdough bread? ›

Compared to whole wheat flour, rye flour is said to be the most nutrient- and amylase-dense option for a sourdough starter. Overall, it has a lower gluten protein content than wheat flour, which means it produces slack, sticky, and dense doughs.

What kind of bread is Panera baguette? ›

A classic and versatile full-size 21-inch baguette with a delicate flavor. Scored and baked to golden perfection with a thin crust. No artificial preservatives, sweeteners, flavors or colors from artificial sources.

What type of baguette is Panera? ›

Panera French Baguette offers a wealth of meal preparations, from appetizers and sandwiches to the ideal pairing for a soup or salad. Scored and baked to perfection, this French bread baguette has a thin crust. Available as a whole loaf, this dairy free bread is vegetarian.

What do Parisians call a baguette? ›

Its full name is la baguette de tradition française and is sometimes called une baguette traditionnelle, or simply une tradition / une traditionnelle.] Deux baguettes classiques, s'il vous plaît. | Two regular baguettes, please. Deux baguettes tradition et une baguette classique, s'il vous plaît.

What makes sourdough bread more flavorful? ›

Generally a more mature and well established starter will produce a more flavorful, sour loaf. Hydration of the Dough - this affects how long your dough will take to ferment. A slightly lower hydration will take longer to ferment than a higher hydration loaf, leading to a bigger depth of flavor and sourness.

What is the secret behind the sour of sourdough bread? ›

There are two main acids produced in a sourdough culture: lactic acid and acetic acid. Acetic acid, or vinegar, is the acid that gives sourdough much of its tang. Giving acetic acid-producing organisms optimal conditions to thrive and multiply will produce a more tangy finished product.

How can I make my sourdough rise better? ›

So don't leave your dough in a warm oven, on a radiator or in sunlight. It will likely be too warm and will dry out your dough too. Instead, find a cosy spot, with no drafts, for your dough to rise. And, if your sourdough starter is struggling to get going, consider finding it a warmer spot too.

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