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Parisian-style baguette?


have been searching hi and low for a decent baguette in GBA, baked properly with:

1) a crisp (yes, I want crisp!!) and light crust
2) proper reddish brown hue
3) open crumb structure with a creamy appearance
4) chewy texture
5) firm enough that when you break the baguette in half, it makes noise, yet soft enough that it doesn’t break apart completely
6) Smell of wheat

here's the "best" of what I've tried:

a) Whole foods: epic FAIL. Crust like a sponge, wrong color
b) Roche brothers: hard like a breadstick. A disgrace.
c) If pigs could fly Brookline: stiffer than Roche Brothers, it actually snapped in half when I carried it home.
d) Clear Flour: not bad but not close to what I'm looking for. Wrong color, crust not crispy. Must have been that darn plastic bag Crumb structure is nice and good chew.
e) Iggy's: Crumb is too dense, good crust but again, not crispy enough. Color is nice.

Used to work as a baker and understood how extremely difficult it is to make a perfect baguette due to so many variables, it really shows the skill and attention to detail of the head baker.

longing for those perfect loaves from Paris.... Eric Kayser, Gosselin, Lenotre.... even the average neighbourhood boulangerie's baguette beats anything I've had here so far.

Any suggestions?

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  1. I like clear flour and i have never been given it in a plastic bag from the bakery itself - am wondering if you bought their bread at a super market? - plastic would ruin any loaf. You might try japonaise on beacon and st. mary's or canto 6 in jamaica plain..

    2 Replies
    1. re: teezeetoo

      I believe all of Canto 6 bread comes from Clear Flour. not the pastries though.

      1. re: pariss

        What pariss says about Canto 6 is true

    2. Wait, plastic bag at Clear Flour? If you were given a baguette in a plastic bag, you were not at Clear Flour. Never gonna happen there.

      1. I know what you are talking about with the plastic bag. It is a plastic bag with lots of tiny tiny holes. This means you bought a Clearflour baguette somewhere other than Clearflour and that you bought their standard baguette. I agree that the ones that get distributed to WF or other places aren't their best work. Their standard baguette (Baguette Parisian) which is what you can buy all over is okay, but what you want is their "Ancient Baguette" which is incredible and the closest to a "baguette traditionelle" I have found in the Boston area. It is only sold at their bakery though, not distributed.

        They used to only bake it twice a week but it is now a daily item. Try one and report back, I think this is what you are looking for. They are incredible!

        Savenours carries another bakery's baguette (I believe it's Nashoba Bakery but it could be Pain D'Avignon) that is also very good and worth trying.

        3 Replies
        1. re: Klunco

          Was also going to suggest Pain D'Avignon. They are quite good. I get it at BoTes Imports in Norwell and Duxbury, but Im sure they are available in Boston somewhere. Call them in Hyannis and get other locations of distribution. All their breads are great.

          1. re: CocoDan

            Golden Goose on Commercial St carries Pain D'Avignon baguettes. I think Savenor's also has it.

            1. re: CocoDan

              Harvest Coop in Central carries Pain D'Avignon.

          2. Try going to Clear Flour and buy the "Ancienne French" that they sell in the shop. Their description: "rustic french baguette with a very open texture & a fully caramelized crust for those seeking bold crunch and mildly sweet flavor" They make it every day, and say it is available after 1 PM. I've only seen it at the shop and at the Farmers' Market stand. It is our choice when we can get it.

            If you get to Wellfleet you should try PB Boulangerie's baguette. And, one other to try would be the B & R style bagguette that Nashoba is making. I've only been able to get that one at Savenor's on Beacon Hill but you could call Nashoba and ask if it is available any where else.


            3 Replies
            1. re: BostonZest

              Will have to make the short pilgrimmage to Clear Flour then! i got the plasticized version at the Meat Market at Coolidge Corner, I suspected that it ruined what might have actually been a great baguette.

              can't wait to rip into it, spread some Plugra and a few grains of Fleur de sel, and eat with a glass of cheap French table wine.

              will report back soon!

              1. re: doctorandchef

                That Acienne baguette at Clear Flour is great. They don't usually have it early in the day, though. It tends to come out later, even early afternoon. As much as I enjoy their standard baguette is, the Acienne is soooo much better!

                1. re: doctorandchef

                  You might try the Japonaise Bakery on Beacon - they finally started making baguettes again (oven problems) and their baguettes are quite good. Not this weekend- construction horror show.

                  Japonaise Bakery
                  1020 Beacon St, Brookline, MA

              2. Try Mamadou's artisan breads in Winchester. He sells at some farmer's markets, too.

                1. I just had a fabulous crispy outside baguette for lunch from Clear Flour Bread Bakery. With some chevre. Bliss.

                  Clear Flour Bread Bakery
                  178 Thorndike St, Brookline, MA 02446

                  1. Have you tried B&R? That's about as good as it gets 'round these parts. I share your pain: Just carried a baguette back from Balthazar. I think the flutes at Hi-Rise are spectacular, but that is another story.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: scotty27

                      B & R closed and now Nashoba Bakery makes the B & R baguettes. They're still good, but not amazing like they used to be.

                    2. The problem of proper baguettes reminds me of the problems of proper NY hard rolls and proper bagels: all of them are items that are meant to be made and sold for people picking them up before breakfast or en route to midday dinner or supper - the good ones are supposed to stale relatively quickly (within hours). The model here is where people actually got their bread around the corner somewhat close before the meal it was going to be served at. Since very few Americans shop like this any more, bakeries don't have a lot of demand for the real thing but instead produce variations that are not quite as good but have a longer shelf life before staling.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: Karl S

                        True of supermarket brands and even most small bakeries, but not Clear Flour. They sell a number of breads that go stale very quickly, like their baguettes and rustic Italian loaves (now THAT's a crusty bread!). I would never buy any of those more than an hour or two before the meal I'm serving it with.

                        I agree with the comments above that their ancienne baguette is better than their regular one

                        1. re: BobB

                          Quite. One reason why Clear Flour's ancienne only comes out of the oven in the afternoon is that if you bought one with your morning bun or bostok at 9 a.m., it would be inedible by dinnertime. Clear Flour *is* an around-the-corner bakery (it's on an obscure corner on the Brookline/Allston border, next to a bodega and a laundromat in an otherwise residential area) that primarily serves its immediate neighborhood: before the rise of Chowhound, Yelp and the like, pretty much only those of us lucky enough to live around here knew about the place!

                      2. mamadou's on swanton st in winchester has your bread. its the real stuff.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: rich patina

                          does mamadou's make many kind of baguettes? the one i had wasn't dense... it was airy. Crust was crispy and light... but it was not what I expected from a baguette, but it was fresh.
                          I tried clear flour many years ago, when the ancienne kind was only baked on a few days a week (like Tuesdays?). It might be worth it to come back and try again as the only time I went there,
                          it was just their 'regular' baguettes.
                          I am from Montreal. I go back to visit my parents and get some baguettes there. Isn't there a place that imports Au pain Dore here?
                          Just came back from Paris... bread was amazing there and really cheap.

                          1. re: missbidon

                            The Spot in Watertown is a little breakfast/lunch place that carries and sells Au Pain Dore.

                        2. I used to get Nashoba Brook's baguette all the time when I lived out that way and would be in the local supermarkets - even after they switched to plastic (with the holes) - just meant I had to do a quick heat up in a toaster oven to get the crust back.

                          Most french loaves at supermarkets are just a chewier version of italian bread with soft, bready insides. But I bought a decent in store baked one from Market Basket the other day - but it seemed really fresh - and was rock hard within a day (perfect for french onion soup croutons).

                          1. Checking in to see if doctorandchef made it to Clear Flour. If so, is that what you were seeking? Anyone else try the "Ancienne French" since this conversation?

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: BostonZest

                              I did try two noteworthy baguettes since this discussion, one being the Ancienne French from Clear Flour (direct from the store and purchased around 3:00 PM). I found it to be one of the better baguettes in the area and enjoyed it very much with cheese. I did not feel that it sized up all that well with some of the better baguettes in Paris, but it was enjoyable enough. I found the crust to be a bit thick. The other baguette that I found to be worthy was from the King Arthur Flour bake store in Norwich, VT. It was a bit overdone, maybe a little less time in the oven would have made it more pleasant.