Eric Kayser’s Baguettes Monge

Eric Kayser's Baguettes Monge grigne

The minute just prior to loading a scorching 500 degree oven with delicate shaped baguettes is a case study in coordination and multitasking. You need to move quickly in a controlled manner — proofed baguettes can easily deflate if handled roughly and should be baked immediately to maintain its cylindrical shape. Several things should also be ready once the loaves are removed from the linen couche. To wit:

  • parchment paper on a baking sheet
  • a lamé for scoring
  • oven mitts, because explaining forearm burn marks can be awkward
  • boiling water for steaming the loaded oven
  • a camera, because certain subcultures are obsessed with taking pictures in the kitchen (optional)

In the middle of all this, you also need the presence of mind to keep yourself from leaning too low when opening the oven doors. The sensation of eyelashes curling away from the backdraft and into an eyeball is decidedly unpleasant.

Waiter There's Something in my Picnic - Baguettes Monge
Waiter, there’s something in my… picnic hosted by The Passionate Cook

Things got tense once the baguettes were gently arranged in rows on the parchment and the lamé was nowhere in sight. The loaves were flattening right before my eyes and I was stuck at a critical step. Baguettes have to be scored or it will have zero chance of making the front pages of Tastespotting, Food Gawker, and FP Daily. Desperate for anything razor-like, I reached for my newly sharpened sushi knife.

Who knew that a Japanese technique for slicing fish would work so well on dough? The hiki-giri, or drawing cut, involves the entire edge of the long blade. A technique used for cutting sashimi, the heel of the knife is placed on the fish before drawing the blade backwards. Extra downward pressure is unnecessary — the cutting motion relies solely on the weight of the knife to ensure a clean cut. Replace the fish with proofed dough and the lamé seems useless all of a sudden. The cuts from the sushi knife were clean and barely dragged.

Scored French baguettes ready to be baked
lamé – overrated unitasker

Last seen in action scoring Peter Reinhart’s French Baguettes*, the lamé is still nowhere to be found and I couldn’t care less. I’m glad I accidentally found a much better tool and technique for scoring dough.

* there’s a joke in there somewhere…

recipe adapted from Au Levain! via The Fresh Loaf
Yeastspotting at Wild Yeast Blog

Eric Kayser’s Baguettes Monge

makes three 250-gram baguettes or four 180-gram ficelles


  • I used Bernard Clayton’s suggestion for approximating French flour by using 3 parts all-purpose flour and 1 part bread flour. Use T65 flour if you’re lucky enough to have access to it.
  • The final hydration of the dough is approximately 58%. The crumb will not be as open compared to more traditional baguette formulas, which is usually hydrated in the neighborhood of 60% to 70%.

For the Final Dough:

Ingredients                  Volume          Ounces          Grams
liquid levain (100% hydration)                    3.5          100
all-purpose flour                                13.25         375
bread flour                                       4.4          125
water, at room temperature      270 ml
instant yeast                   1/2 tsp
sea salt                      1 1/4 tsp            .35          10

Final Dough Instructions:

Mix             Mix all of the ingredients until evenly incorporated

Knead           8 to 10 minutes (must pass the windowpane test)

Rest            5 minutes

Knead           1 minute to further strengthen the gluten

Bulk Ferment    60 minutes at room temperature

Divide          3 pieces for baguettes or 4 for ficelles

Shape           baguettes, with pointed ends

Eric Kayser's Baguettes Monge - pre-shaped
pre-shaped baguettes

Final Proof     90 minutes at room temperature

Eric Kayser's Baguettes Monge - proofed
proofed baguettes

Preheat Oven    500ºF/260ºC

Score           3 to 5 slashes

Eric Kayser's Baguettes Monge - scored
scored baguettes

Steam           1 cup of boiling water poured in a heavy steam
                pan (preferably cast iron)

Bake            Lower the temperature immediately to 425ºF/220ºC.
                Bake for 10 minutes. Rotate the loaf if necessary
                and bake for another 10 to 15 minutes.

Cool            At least 15 minutes

Eric Kayser's Baguettes Monge - crust crumb

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33 Responses to “Eric Kayser’s Baguettes Monge”

  1. daphne says:

    Beautifully brown. I love the

    “oven mitts, because explaining forearm burn marks can be awkward” part

    Sounds like u had lots of adventure with this one. =)

    last blog post: Feta, Chicken and Spinach Pasta

  2. Zita says:

    Now… those are REAL baquettes!!!*
    the baking process sounds dangerously tempting :)

    * there’s a joke in there somewhere… LOL

    last blog post: Pistachio Macaron with Chocolate Coffee Ganache

  3. Maggie says:

    Your loaves are gorgeous! I struggle with forming baguettes (and not deflating them.)

  4. Jai says:

    perfect baguette, great instructions and pics…and great humor! (** camera optional ‘cos…)


  5. Nils says:

    Excellent, makes me want to bite right into it. Not sure, but I believe Eric Kayser is not associated with the Boulanger de Monge. Regards, Nils

  6. daphne – Got way too many burns – It looks like I got hazed or something.

    zita – Takes a lot of practice but you go on autopilot after a few times.

    maggie – Thanks! Shaping is probably the toughest step. Feels great once you’re done with it, though.

    jai – A tripod in the kitchen makes for a crowded one

    nils – Thanks for pointing that out! You’re absolutely right, and I fixed the references. Whoops.

  7. katie says:

    Lovely baguettes! I’ve never made them but I am familiar with forgetting to back away from the oven before opening the door!

  8. kat says:

    woah, that is some serious baking. I make bread all the time but baguettes intimidate me

    last blog post: Summer Garden Galette

  9. Madam Chow says:

    Lovely, as usual. And I understand about the oven mitts, something that I often forget, and I have the scars to provie it.

    last blog post: Gruyère-Stuffed Crusty Loaves

  10. Claire says:

    Okay, you’ve convinced me, I need to try making baguettes. I’m very impressed with your scoring, as well. Congratulations on some beautiful loaves.

    last blog post: Fig and Walnut Bread

  11. [eatingclub] vancouver || js says:

    Oh these are gorgeous as usual! I “tried” making “baguettes” (just last night in fact), but, as you can probably glean from the excess of quotation marks, I didn’t do a very good job of it. They were misshapen, stubby loaves of something.

    Good bread is something I’m looking for though and I was tempted to buy a breadmaker today. Then TS dissuaded me because she doesn’t like that all the breads from the breadmaker look like those cube-y things. I suppose in their own “special” way the stubby loaves look pretty.

    I need to buckle down and buy one of these bread books to start from the beginning.

    last blog post: Faux Kamote-Que

  12. Natashya says:

    You are one coordinated baker. I just cheat and use the chicago metallic baguette forms for the final rise and baking. I didn’t have the coordination to get the loaves off the couche and onto the stone.
    My hat is off to you, friend!

    last blog post: Oh, Canada

  13. Tom Aarons says:

    I continue to be stunned by your breads! Wow. And I love the idea of using sushi technique to score baguettes. That’s true fusion food! :)

  14. noobcook says:

    Thanks for visiting me .. so glad I found your good-looking food blog! These bread look amazing … wish I can bake like that!!

  15. Kristen says:

    Gorgeous loaves!

  16. sweetbird says:

    I am continually in awe of your baking prowess. I was terrified to make pizza dough the other day, and I pop over here and you’ve got the best looking baguette outside of Whole Foods. Can I just buy bread from you and tell people I made it? It’ll be our little secret…

    last blog post: Margherita-ville

  17. Alexa says:

    These loaves are beautiful and that crust looks amazing. Wow!

    last blog post: Unusual Dessert: Beet Mousse with Cardamom

  18. Susan/Wild Yeast says:

    Congratulations on mastering the most difficult of breads, imo. Sushi knife now on my Christmas list!

    last blog post: YeastSpotting 8.15.08

  19. rainbowbrown says:

    Oh I know the feeling of panic when the loaves are ready, but the blade has disappeared. Or was forgotten. Just thinking about it made my chest tense up a little. I started using my bread knife recently and it’s become my favorite scoring tool so far.

    last blog post: TWD Blueberry-Sour Cream Ice Cream

  20. bee says:

    what spectacular baguettes i love the ‘holey’ crumb. thanks for the step by step instructions.

  21. oggi says:

    They’re beautiful! I love crusty holey breads.

    last blog post: The Breakphast Of Champions

  22. Jane says:

    I was looking at the revived slashing instrument discussion because I am starting to get the slashing figured out but am still looking for the perfect tool for baguettes. I have a preference for cutter blades because they have two possible blade points.
    Anyway, that brought me here. Self promotion is a good thing when it means we can discover new blogs (going back to what you said on TFL). I’ll have a take a look around. Your baguettes look lovely! Your pictures of the steps are great. The crumb is rather open for the low hydration. But a less open crumb can be good for certain things. Now you should try the ones at 75% hydration. It’s crazy to work with, but you’ll have loads of fun.

  23. johanna says:

    wow… your baguettes look amasing! i have never ventured into it, need to buy some baker’s linen first – will definitely try your recipe! thanks for your contribution to WTSIM!

  24. YeastSpotting August 22, 2008 | Wild Yeast says:

    [...] Eric Kayser’s Baguettes Monge ~ Apple Pie, Patis, and Pâté [...]

  25. Chavi says:

    Those are positively stunning!

    last blog post: I’m Off

  26. Elizabeth says:

    Those are beautiful loaves! The crust is particularly pleasing. I can almost hear the crackle.

    And how brilliant are you to use a sushi knife for scoring? (I always suspected that a lamé was useless.) While I’m not the most brilliant at scoring, I was worst when using razor sharp box cutters. Then I started using scissors – a little better. Recently, I’ve been using a serrated bread knife – best. If we had a sushi knife, I’d try it….

    (Lee Valley Tools sells oven guards that can be snapped onto the fronts of the racks. They’re made of a fire-retardant fabric called “NOMEX” and are safe for temperatures up to 500F/260C. My sister and brother-in-law have them – I keep forgetting to ask if they work.)

    last blog post: More Cheese Please (WTSIM…#18)

  27. Jutta says:

    Simply perfect!

    last blog post: Fremdkochen f??r Afrika: Tanjia (M)

  28. Miri says:

    Made those last weekend – they were my first sourdough breads! They were just awesome and today I’m making them again. Thanks a lot for a great recipe!

  29. Charles says:

    Stupid question:

    What is liquid levain (100% hydration) ?

  30. Hey Charles… Not stupid at all… It’s basically starter fed with equal parts water and flour by weight. It will have a gloopy consistency.

    A starter fed with 2 parts flour to 1 part water would be 50% hydration. It’s sometimes called a stiff starter (although the proportions may vary slightly) and some recipes will call for this instead.

  31. english garden tools says:

    I would like to thank you for the endeavors you have made in writing this article. I am going for the same best work from you in the future as well. In fact your constructive writing abilities has urged me to start my own blog now. Really the blogging is spreading its wings rapidly. Your write up is a fine instance of it.

  32. John Alibrandi says:

    Talk about an inspiration. Very talented, but honestly… the water source makes the real difference. Get water from Syracuse, NY. Use a marble slab, and WATCH what a difference it makes.

  33. Connie says:

    Jude, these baguettes looks great. I’ve made some different baguettes, but the ones you make with the recipe of Eric Kayser are beautiful. Thanks for sharing.

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