At the boulangerie: give us our daily baguettePas possible to find a food more French than the humble baguette. But did the bread really originate in France, and why is it shaped like a stick? Here’s all you ‘knead’ to know…

BaguettesFilling up on bread is no bad thing when you’re in France – the basket still arrives automatically in restaurants, filled with irresistible slices of fresh baguette.

Like the croissant, the baguette is said to have been inspired by the Viennese. When a law was passed in France to stop bakers working between the hours of 10pm and 4am, they had to find a new method of baking that would allow them to cope with demand and make enough bread to supply all their customers in the morning. The long thin shape of the baguette was ideal.

Baguettes should be freshly made every day. It means they go stale very quickly, but you could always use any leftovers to make croutons and sprinkle on salads and soups. Or turn it into breadcrumbs and use them for coating homemade fishcakes, adding to a stuffing mix and making bread sauce. In Paris, there is an annual competition to find the best baguette. Entries must measure 55cm – 65cm long and weigh 250g – 300g, and the winner goes on to supply the President of France for a year.

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