Éric Kayser's French Baguettes

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Éric Kayser was born in October 1964 in Lure in the Haute-Saône region of eastern France. His great-grandfather, grand father and father were traditional French bakers in Lorraine. He served his apprenticeship in Fréjus on the Côte d'Azur. 

His first bakery was at 8 rue Monge in Paris. Today, there are over 200 Maison Kayser worldwide and 28 in Paris alone. Sadly, in 2020 the 16 New York locations closed and filed for bankruptcy.

Today we're going to make Tradition Baguettes using Éric Kayser's recipe. It's a two stage process and requires an active levain.


If you have an active starter, then you can substitute this for the the levain in the first stage of the recipe and go directly to STAGE 2. 

If you don't have an active starter, I recommend you complete STAGE 1 before moving on to STAGE 2.

STAGE 1 : preparing the levain

140 gms rye flour

100 gms wheat flour (T65 or strong bread flour)

240 gms of tepid filtered water

10 gms honey

Day 1 : Mix thoroughly 20 gms of rye flour with 5 gms of honey and 20 gms water.  Cover and let it rest at room temperature for 24 hours

Day 2 : Add 40 gms rye flour, 40 gms water and 5 gms hone. Mix thoroughly. Cover and let it rest at room temperature for 24 hours,

Day 3 : Add 80 gms of rye flour, 80 gms of water. Mix thoroughly. Cover and let it rest at room temperature for 24 hours. 

Day 4 : Add 100 gms wheat flour (T65 / strong white bread flour) and 100 gms water. 

You now have a working and active levain. What you don't use today can be saved in the refrigerator and activated by adding equal portions of levain to fresh flour and water. Stir and leave for several hours to re-energise. 

Or, you can substitute the above for 100 gms of your usual active starter. 

STAGE 2 : Making the baguettes

Ready to go....

500 gms T55 flour (or unbleached strong bread flour)

100 gms levain starter (from above or 100 gms of your own active starter)

330 gms tepid filtered water

9 gms sea salt

4 gms fresh baker's yeast (or 2 gms of instant yeast)

1. Mix 500 gms of T55 flour with the 330 gms of water until thoroughly incorporated. 

2. Knead gently for a few minutes (by hand OR about 4 minutes on slow in a stand mixer OR for a short time on a instant start programme in a bread mixer). 

3. Cover and let it rest at room temperature for one hour. 

4. Add the yeast and the levain  and mix thoroughly. 

5. Add the salt and the knead together for about 6 or 7 minutes.

7. Place the dough in a warm environment (23⁰C / 24⁰C), cover and leave to rise for one hour. 

8. Weigh and divide into three portions. Lightly flour the worktop.

9. Shape the bread portions into boules. Cover with a damp tea towel and leave to rest for 30 minutes.

Yes, I know it says 'three'....and there's four here....I've doubled the quantities to make six baguettes. 

10. Lightly flour the worktop. Gently flatten each boule slightly, but try not to degas it. Stretch out the dough and roll it into the shape of a baguette.

11. Place each baguette on a couche or former and cover with a oiled piece of cling film.

12. Leave to rise at room temperature for two hours.

13. Preheat the oven to 240⁰C. 

14. When ready, score and mist the baguettes and bake for 22 - 23 minutes.

Cool on a rack

Like a lot of French bread, it's a fairly close crumb...more reminiscent of village baguettes than sourdough. But they tasted lovely. 

Happy baking...

Note: If I didn't have a supply of Éric's levain, I'd be using my 1848 sourdough starter that is lighter than my rye starter. I feed the 1848 starter on all-purpose or plain flour and a little white sugar. You can see how this is similar to the formula for the levain. It often helps to have a number of different starters to hand. My other main starter (based on rye) flour would be too robust for this recipe as would my spelt starter. 


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