Baguette bread, or simply baguette, is a French tradition that dates back centuries. The baguette is a long, thin loaf of bread with a unique shape and texture, which sets it apart from other types of bread. There are many types of chopsticks, each with its own flavor and texture. In this blog post, we’ll explore the history and origins of the French baguette, as well as the different ways to prepare and eat it. We will also take a look at the baking competitions that take place in France each year.
The origins of the French baguette
Even if it already existed in another form, the origins of the baguette coincide above all with the arrival of steam oven cooking developed in 1839 by Auguste Zang and the use of a new yeast of Austrian origin. However, it will be necessary to wait until the beginning of the 20th century to see the official baguette name appear in the literature. Over the years, this new type of bread has become a staple of French consumption. The shape and texture of the baguette make it unique among other types of bread.
How to make a French baguette?
The baguette, also known abroad as the French baguette, is made from flour, water, yeast or sourdough and salt. You must first mix the ingredients in a kneader to obtain a homogeneous dough, then knead it and let it rest so that it gains in volume. This step is important because it allows the fermentation during which the aromas develop, while allowing the dough to swell. Then, the baker divides the dough according to the desired weight by creating dough pieces. Then, the baker shapes the dough pieces to give them the shape of a baguette before proofing, the second phase of fermentation which allows the dough to triple in volume. The baker finally proceeds to scarify the baguette (blows of the blade on the dough) before putting it in the oven. The baguette is a symbol of the French way of life and each baker wishes to innovate with their own recipe and their own products to make this emblematic bread that accompanies French cuisine.
The different types of French baguettes
There are many types of French baguettes, each with a unique flavor and texture. Here are some of the most popular French baguettes:
- The classic baguette: also called the Parisian baguette, it is characterized by a thick crust and weighs around 250 grams. It is also slightly drier and a little flourier than the traditional baguette.
- The traditional baguette: it is the favorite baguette of the French with its crispier crust and more airy crumb. Ideal to accompany meals, the traditional baguette is made with flour without additives. Its weight is close to 300 grams.
- The string baguette: this baguette, weighing approximately 125 grams, is thinner, shorter and is considered the little sister of the classic baguette.
- The flute baguette: this baguette, weighing approximately 400 grams, is twice as big as the classic baguette, without necessarily being longer. The flute baguette is the ideal bread to accompany a piece of cheese!
- The molded baguette: quite similar to the classic baguette, it is however poured into a mold when baking to give it a more regular appearance.
- The Sarmentine baguette: this baguette originating from the south of France is easily identifiable thanks to its 2 horns located at each end. This baguette is also appreciated for its shelf life.
- The ear baguette: with its original shape reminiscent of an ear of wheat, this baguette offers a flavor and texture close to the classic baguette.
- The Viennese baguette: the particularity of this baguette is to approximate the texture of the brioche, with a sweeter taste than the other baguettes. It is the ideal baguette for snacks and French breakfasts.
Also note that there are “special” baguettes that are part of the family of special breads, such as the poppy seed baguette or the cereal baguette… not to mention the organic baguette, whose flour must come from organic farming.
The different ways to consume the French baguette
In France, the baguette is traditionally used in the morning for breakfast in the form of toast. Accompanied by butter or jam, the French baguette can also be toasted to make it crispier. You can use the baguette for the preparation of sandwiches at home, such as the famous ham and butter or as a snack accompanied by spread. In recent years, new recipes have appeared to allow the baguette to be eaten as an aperitif. The aperitif baguette is garnished with different ingredients, such as cheese or charcuterie, before being broiled in the oven for a few minutes.
French baguette competitions
Many competitions around the baguette are organized each year in France in the regions. The best known is the national competition for the best traditional baguette which takes place every year in Paris, and over 3 days. This competition brings together the 20 best bakers from the regions of France. In 2021, the work of baker Valentin Lecœur, representing the Normandy region, won this 7th edition. Another competition very popular with the French since 2013 is the program “la Meilleur Bakery de France” broadcast on M6 where various bakeries compete within their region. To participate in the national final, you must obtain the best score in your region.
The figures around bread and the French baguette
- 30 million baguettes are consumed every day in France, which represents 320 baguettes produced and consumed per second!
- 9 out of 10 French people buy their bread daily.
- Traditional and classic baguettes are the best-selling baguettes in France.
- The French consume an average of 4 baguettes per week.
- French bread is made by one of the 35,000 bakeries spread across the country.
The average price of the French baguette in the world
The price of the baguette varies from one country to another and there are still strong disparities between the continents. Here are some examples of prices recorded in 2017 by the Baguette Académy website (in US dollars).
- Algeria: the average cost of a baguette in 2017 is 0.09 USD
- Colombia: the average cost of a baguette in 2017 is 0.82 USD
- Spain: the average cost of a baguette in 2017 is 1.12 USD
- France: the average cost of a baguette in 2017 is 1.12 USD
- Malaysia: the average cost of a baguette in 2017 is 1.39 USD
- Chile: the average cost of a baguette in 2017 is 1.49 USD
- Australia: the average cost of a baguette in 2017 is 1.87 USD
- China: the average cost of a baguette in 2017 is 3.75 USD
In many countries, French bakeries have settled and developed, thus contributing to the reputation of the French baguette, just like pastry. Chef Eric Kaiser, for example, is now at the head of several bakeries in France, but also in Russia, Japan and Morocco. Known for having created the monge baguette and its famous buckwheat bread, its quality recipes and preparations perpetuate the spread of French gastronomic heritage and culture throughout the world every day.