Many bakers use a baguette pan to produce long, thin loaves of French bread. The pan resembles a cookie sheet or baking pan in size and shape, except that it generally has two or three long, slender half-moon shapes joined together to hold each loaf. A baguette pan is usually wide enough to bake two or three baguette loaves at a time. Dough is usually shaped and left to rise in the baguette pan for an hour or so before the pan is placed in an oven to bake the bread.
A baguette is a simple bread that is usually made of yeast, flour, salt, and water. Key characteristics of a baguette loaf are its long, thin shape, chewy interior, and highly crispy crust. Many people enjoy baguettes plain or as an accompaniment for a meal. The bread is also suitable to use to make sandwiches, such as submarines or Banh Mi — a type of Vietnamese sandwich.
While a baguette pan is not required to bake baguette loaves, many people believe that using the specialized pan produces bread with a crispier crust and a nicer shape. The design of the pan also allows a baker to produce multiple loaves at a time, which speeds up the baking process for commercial bakers. This also allows home bakers to prepare a baguette to eat right away and a loaf or two to freeze for later.
A baguette pan is usually made of either stainless steel or aluminum, or some combination of the two metals. The pan may have many small holes on the bottom of each half cylinder, so that steam and air can circulate around the bread during baking, thus producing the crisp crust for which the bread is known. If the baguette pan is not non-stick, the perforations in the bottom of the pan can make removing the loaves from the pan and cleaning up the pan difficult, since the bread dough seeps through the holes before the loaf is baked, thereby fusing the bread to the pan as the crust hardens.
If the bread does get stuck in the pan's holes, the baker may be able to gently pry the loaf off of the pan with a dull knife or fork. He or she can also try lining the pan with parchment paper as the bread dough proofs, then removing the paper immediately before baking so that the bread does not get stuck in the holes. Any bits of bread that are stuck to the pan may be removed by soaking the pan before washing it with soap and water. If the pan is non-stick, it should not be scrubbed with an abrasive cleaner or metal brush as this could damage the non-stick properties of the pan.