Start to Finish: 25 minutes
The crusty, slender baguette, which is synonymous with French bread, is eaten daily by many French people. By French law, a true baguette must contain only three ingredients — flour, yeast and salt — and weigh in at 250 grams, or a bit more than 1/2 pound. While baguettes produced outside of France may contain additional ingredients or weigh slightly more or less, they still offer a delicious accompaniment to any meal when brushed with fat and toasted in the oven.
- 1 baguette
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Fresh herbs, garlic, cheese or butter, to taste (see Variations)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
Place the baguette on a cutting board. Using a long, serrated knife held at a 45-degree angle to the end of the bread, slice the baguette into 1/4-inch pieces. Discard the ends or save them for another use.
Arrange the slices on a baking sheet. Brush each slice with extra-virgin olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Turn the slices over and repeat.
Bake the bread for 12 to 15 minutes, or until golden-brown, turning the slices over halfway through cooking.
Remove the toasts to a cooling rack or serve immediately.
- For softer baguette toasts, slice the bread 1/2 inch thick.
- When slicing the French bread, change the angle of the knife to create different-size toasts. Slicing perpendicular to the edge of the loaf will yield small rounds, perfect for the base of appetizers. Slicing a baguette at a more acute angle will produce longer pieces, ideal for sandwiches.
- Use the highest quality of olive oil available to maximize the taste. If you prefer, use another high-quality oil, such as avocado oil.
- Melted butter may be brushed on the slices instead of oil, if desired. Instead of the fresh fruitiness of the olive oil, the bread will have the creamy richness of the butter.
- For convenience or smaller batches, use a toaster oven set at the same temperature to bake the French bread.
- Peel 12 cloves of garlic. In a small aluminum foil pouch set in a pan, cover the garlic with extra-virgin olive oil and roast at 400 degrees for 15 minutes. Let cool. Brush the slices with the garlic oil and spread the garlic confit across the tops before baking.
- Finely chop fresh herbs, such as parsley, rosemary, sage, thyme, basil or a combination. Soften 4 to 8 tablespoons butter and mix in 1/8 to 1/4 cup of the herbs. Stir in salt and pepper to taste. Spread each slice of bread on one side only with the butter and cook as usual.
- Brush the baguette slices with infused oils, such as garlic, rosemary or even chili pepper.
*Melt 1/4 cup butter and stir in 1/8 to 1/4 cup finely grated cheese, such as Parmesan or Asiago. Brush each slice of bread on one side only and bake. Alternatively, brush slices on both sides with melted butter and sprinkle fresh goat cheese on top of the up-facing side.
References and ResourcesThe Wall Street Journal: France's Bread Lovers Have a New Idea--and It's Half-Baked
David Lebovitz: Baguettes