When I lived in Paris in 2010-2011, the word gluten free was a foreign term to most people. The only places to find gluten free food were “Bio shops,” which were typically foul smelling small markets filled with organic and healthy products where only “earthy people” shopped at. The most difficult part of eating out for my husband was that at the start of every meal in Paris, the waiter brings out a basket of sliced baguette. Baguettes are made fresh daily in Paris so the bread was always top quality. I learned how to make classic French baguette in culinary school, but I’ve wanted to try baking gluten free baguette for so long and have only now finally gotten around to it! It involves quite a few steps, but the end result is totally worth it.

This recipe calls for malted syrup but since malt is made of barley, I like to replace malt with a mixture of brown sugar and white sugar. I do this in my bagel recipe too! The trick to getting a crunchy curst on the baguette is baking it with steam. If you don’t have a steam oven, I will instruct you on how to create steam in your home oven. Baguettes are at their best the day they are made.

Makes 3 - 14 inch long French Baguettes.

French Baguette:

4 cups plus 3 Tbsp (540 grams) Blends by Orly Tuscany Blend Bread Flour

1 3/4 tsp (5 grams) dry active yeast

1 tsp (3 grams) brown sugar

1 tsp (3 grams) white sugar

2 1/2 tsp (10 grams) kosher salt

1 3/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons (460 grams) filtered cold water

In a large bowl combine the flours, yeast, brown sugar, white sugar and salt. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the water. With a scraper or wooden spoon, gradually work the flour into the liquid. Keep doing this until all the flour has been moistened. You don't want to knead the dough.

Lightly oil a large bowl. Place the dough into the bowl and then flip it over so the top of the dough has a light coating of oil. Cover with plastic wrap and let it sit at room temperature for three hours. Every 45 minutes you need to stretch the dough. When making baguettes with wheat flour, the gluten in the dough allows you to actually stretch the dough. With gluten free dough, the dough will break if you try to stretch it, so I do more of a folding process than actually stretching.

To “stretch” the dough, gently take one edge of the dough and fold it onto the top of the dough. Turn your bowl 180 degrees and fold the dough in the same way. Then turn your bowl a quarter turn (90 degrees) and fold the dough in the same way. Then turn your bowl 180 degrees and repeat the process. After that flip your dough so the bottom is now the top, and cover. Repeat the process in 45 minutes and again 45 minutes later. (a total of three times over three hours.)

One and half hours before baking your baguettes, preheat your oven to 475 degrees F and place a pizza stone in the center of the oven. Also, place a cast iron pan on the floor of your oven (we will be placing ice cubes in the frying pan to create steam right before baking).

Once the dough has fermented for three hours, it's time to preshape our baguettes. Turn out your dough onto a lightly floured surface. Lightly flour the top of your dough and using a scraper or knife, divide the dough into three equal sized pieces (about 310 grams each).

Take one piece of the dough and, on a lightly floured surface, pat into a 6 x 4 inch rectangle. Fold over the top third of dough (like you're folding a letter) and gently seal (this also increases the surface tension of the dough.) Then take the top of the dough and fold it to the bottom edge of the dough and seal. Place the palms of your hand on the top of the dough and gently roll it back and forth to seal the dough and create tension. Place the log of dough (seam side down) onto a lightly floured baking sheet. Repeat this process with the other two pieces of dough. Then cover with plastic wrap and let proof (ferment) (and to relax the dough) for about 30 minutes at room temperature.

Place the three logs of dough (top side down) onto a lightly floured surface. Gently pat the dough into a rectangle, breaking any large air bubbles. Fold over the top third of dough and gently seal. Turn the dough 180 degrees and again fold over the top third of dough and gently seal. Then take the top of the dough and fold it to the bottom edge of the dough and seal. With the palms of your hands gently roll the dough back and forth (also creates tension which makes the scoring of the baguette easier) until it's about 14 inches (35 cm) in length. Place the baguettes (seam side up) on a lightly floured cloth (preferably linen), separating the baguettes by a wrinkle in the cloth. Cover with plastic wrap, and let proof (ferment) for about 30-60 minutes at room temperature (the baguettes should be plump and when you gently press your finger into the baguette it should leave a slight indentation).

Have ready a pizza paddle that has been lightly sprinkled with fine cornmeal or semolina. Gently transfer the baguettes to the pizza paddle, placing them seam side down. Then with a razar or sharp knife, held at an angle, score the top center of each baguette lengthwise with 3 - 2 inch (5 cm) slashes (slightly overlap the slashes). Transfer the baguettes onto the hot pizza stone, spacing the baguettes a few inches (5 cm) apart. Quickly place about 2 cups (480 ml) of ice cubes into the hot cast iron frying pan (this creates steam). Bake the baguettes for about 20 - 25 minutes or until golden brown (rotate the baguettes after 10 minutes if you find they are browning unevenly). (If you tap the bottom of the baguette it will sound hollow.) Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool for about one and a half to two hours.