Baguette Basics: Fun Facts about French Bread
It’s hard to find someone with bad feelings about bread–particularly when that bread is a baguette. Long, slender, and perfectly crisp, this beloved French staple has become a symbol of the country’s culinary charm. Millions of baguettes are made and sold each year, making it one of the most popular breads in the world. In fact, baguettes are so popular they have their own holiday–March 21st of every year is National French Bread Day!
But before you go out and buy a fresh loaf, let’s take a bite out of exactly what makes baguettes so worthy of celebration.
What is French Bread?
French bread is a type of bread made from four basic ingredients: flour, water, yeast, and salt. It’s more commonly known as a baguette, the French word for “wand” or “baton” that refers to its long, thin shape. When baked to perfection, baguettes have a warm, crispy crust and a soft, fluffy center.
Thanks to its mild taste and pleasing texture, baguettes are incredibly versatile. They can be served as an appetizer, dipped into soups and sauces, made into sandwiches, or enjoyed as a snack. Here at Orange Beach Concierge, Chef David Pan uses fresh-baked baguettes to create our delicious French sammies available at The Pantry at The Wharf!
How Did Baguettes Begin?
Baguettes have been around for so long that much of their history is pure speculation. Some give credit to Napoleon Bonaparte I, while others attribute August Zang, an Austrian baker that opened “Boulangerie Viennoise” in Paris in 1839. Some even believe it began with workers constructing the original Paris Metro in the late 19th century.
However it began, we know that baguettes saw a surge in popularity around 1920, when France passed a law banning bakers from starting their day before 4 a.m. With the recent invention of the steam oven, the baguette’s long and thin shape baked faster and more evenly than other forms. Consumers also found the new style of bread easy to carry, slice, and serve, making it a win-win situation for all.
Today, more than 30 million baguettes are eaten each day–and that’s just in France.
More Fun Facts about French Bread
French baguettes are protected by law. France passed a law in 1993 that establishes standards for their culinary symbol. According to law, baguettes must be made on the premises where they are sold and contain only the four base ingredients. They should never be frozen or contain additives or preservatives.
Baguettes have a standard size. In France, traditional baguettes must be between 5 and 6 cm wide and 55-65 cm long.
There’s a right way to carry baguettes. Baguettes are made to be easily carried under the arm as you walk. In France, people are expected to own baguette bags that are the perfect shape for portability!
Scores serve a purpose. Those artful slices in traditional French bread aren’t just for decoration. They help prevent excess pressure during baking, which can cause the bread to burst and lose its shape.
Now that you know all about baguettes, it’s time to dig in! If you don’t have hours to commit to baking at home, stop by The Pantry at The Wharf to try Chef Pan’s delicious sammies on baguettes. Then break bread with friends and family to celebrate baguettes in true French style!