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How to make the perfect baguette - MOST Bakery style

Have you returned from your summer holiday with a renewed appreciation for the joys of a fresh baguette?

MOST Bakery on Cross Street, and baker Matt Townley

Have you returned from your summer holiday with a renewed appreciation for the joys of a fresh baguette?

Well, you don't need to wait for next year's sojourn to Brittany or Biarritz before sampling the classic French stick at its most authentic.

Since opening on Cross Street last year, MOST Bakery has built up a loyal customer base while also supplying numerous food businesses around the Altrincham area.

It’s now a common sight to see a queue snaking out of the shop’s door as customers eagerly await the latest delicious products to emerge from Matt Townley’s impressive oven.

Now, in an Altrincham Today exclusive, Matt is lifting the lid on one of his best-loved recipes - how to bake the perfect baguette.

Ingredients (creates two short baguettes)

  • 270g Strong white flour
  • 190g Cool water (weigh water in grams to be precise)
  • 5g Salt
  • 5g Fresh yeast (or 2.5g fast action dried yeast)
Baker Matt Townley during the baguette-making process at MOST


Step 1: Preheat your oven to 450°F (230°C) (fan). Place the oven rack in the centre.

Step 2: Place all ingredients in a bowl. Mix together roughly to form a dough, which should take a minute or so.

Step 3: Remove the dough from the bowl and knead on a work surface for 10 minutes. Do not flour the work surface! Place the dough back in the bowl and leave to proof for around an hour, until it has almost doubled in size.

Step 4: Remove the dough from the bowl and divide into equal portions.

Step 5: Take one dough portion and flatten it slightly with your hands to form a rectangular shape.

Step 6: Fold the top third of the dough down towards the centre and press it gently to seal. Fold the bottom third up towards the centre and press again to seal. The dough should now resemble a long rectangle.

Step 7: Starting from the top of the dough, begin rolling it tightly towards you. Apply even pressure with your palms and fingers to create tension in the dough. Roll it until you reach the bottom edge.

Step 8: Pinch the ends of the rolled dough to seal them, and gently taper the ends to create the traditional baguette shape. You can also lightly press the seam on the bottom of the baguette to seal it. Allow to rest on your worktop for a few minutes.

Step 9: Place your hands on top of the baguette and roll it out until it is the length of a baking tray.

Step 10: Generously flour a tea towel, then place your baguettes on top. Tuck them into ‘couches’ – French for ‘bed’! Leave until ever so slightly puffy, which should be around 15 minutes.

Step 11: Remove from the couches. Place the shaped baguettes on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Make sure to leave enough space between each baguette to allow for expansion during baking.

Step 12: Using a sharp knife, make diagonal slashes along the top of each baguette. This will help the baguettes expand and give them the classic crust appearance.

Step 13: Place the baking sheet with the baguettes in the preheated oven. Add a tray of hot water to the bottom of the oven to allow the bread to steam for a good crust. Bake for about 15 minutes, or until the baguettes turn golden brown and sound hollow when tapped on the bottom.

Step 14: Cool and enjoy.

Remember, shaping baguettes takes practice, so don't worry if your first attempts aren't perfect. With time and experience, you'll get better at creating those beautiful, crusty baguettes.

Matt with the finished baguettes