New here/Baguette advice.
This is my first post on Chowhound and tonight was my first attempt at baking French baguettes. They came out really well but were a bit too dense. I really love the crispy-on-the-outside, soft-and-lite-on-the-inside style that is common in France as opposed to the bigger, denser style frequently found in the States. Any advice you can offer to achieve this style will be greatly appreciated.
Based on the images:
You need some practice in shaping the loaf -
Your loaves don't appear to be scored:
It isn't necessary to use a lame to score your loaves. A good quality serrated knife blade will work just fine.
You don't list the flour or formula you're using so it's difficult to judge the level of hydration you're using but it should be somewhere around 70% and I'd suggest using an AP flour.
looks like from the picture you washed the baguettes with an egg wash. it's not really necessary to do that. in fact, it may not give you the crust you want as the wash may moisten the crust (think challah, brioche, etc)
the other important thing is to use a hot water bath in the oven. the steam will yield a nice crust. you can start by putting the pan in the oven while you preheat. when the baguettes are ready to be placed in the oven you can add water to the pan heating in the oven.
as todao suggests, use AP flour versus bread flour. can't really help other than that since not sure what recipe you're using.
You've already gotten great advice. I'd also add, since there are recipes that call for lower temperature, that high temperature w/ the steam that trolley mentioned will help get that crispy on the outside crust. And, I bake on tiles/stones instead of a baking sheet. You want to leave the tiles in the oven, heated for half an hour at least so they get good and hot. Also, go for a longer rise, at a cooler temperature for better texture.
I think part of it is the recipe. Try this one. It's the best for the ease (but use steam method):
Even better is Peter Reinhart's. It's more time consuming but worth it. You can combine methods but this blog has some excellent pictures, especially on resting w/ the towel cloche.
Finally, I have to say with all these techniques, I can't get the same crispiness in the crust as some of my favorite baguettes. Better than most but I think the oven makes a big difference, since home ovens don't get as hot.
I agree that part of the problem may very well be the recipe. I'd scrap that recipe and go for the one chowser recommended at http://www.applepiepatispate.com/brea... but you don't' need "bread" flour - you can use AP and it should come out just fie. Just be sure to weigh your ingredients. That will help immensely in eliminating a lot of difficulty often experienced by novice bread bakers. Remember, it's only flour/water/yeast/salt and a little experience. Piece-O-Cake .....
I'm not a big fan of the King Arthur recipe.