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A baguette (/bæˈɡɛt/; French: [baɡɛt] (listen)) is a long, thin type of bread of French origin that is commonly made from basic lean dough (the dough, though not the shape, is defined by French law). It is distinguishable by its length and crisp crust.

A baguette has a diameter of about 5 to 6 centimetres (2–2+1⁄2 inches) and a usual length of about 65 cm (26 in), although a baguette can be up to 1 m (39 in) long.

In November 2018, documentation surrounding the "craftsmanship and culture" on making this bread was added to the French Ministry of Culture's National Inventory of Intangible Cultural Heritage. In 2022, the artisanal know-how and culture of baguette bread was inscribed to the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage Lists.

Because the history of the French baguette is not completely known, several myths have spread about the origins of this type of bread.

Some say Napoleon Bonaparte in essence created the French baguette in order to allow soldiers to more easily be able to carry bread with them. Since the round shape of other breads took up a lot of space, Bonaparte requested they be made into the skinny stick shape with specific measurements to be able to slide into the soldiers' uniform.

Other stories credit baguettes as being an invention to stop French metro workers from having to carry knives that they used to cut their bread. The workers often fought, so the management did not want them to be carrying knives and requested for bread to be easily ripped apart, ending the need for knives. The skinny, easily rippable shape of a baguette would have been the response to this.

Some believe baguettes were the "Bread of Equality" following a decree post-French Revolution requiring a type of bread to be made accessible to both the rich and poor.

Another account states that in October 1920 a law prevented bakers from working before 4 am, making it impossible to make traditional round loaves in time for customers' breakfasts. Switching from the round loaf to the previously less-common, slender shape of the baguette solved the problem, because it could be prepared and baked much more quickly. The law in question appears to be one from March 1919, though some say it took effect in October 1920:

It is forbidden to employ workers at bread and pastry making between ten in the evening and four in the morning.

The "baguette de tradition française" is made from wheat flour, water, yeast, and common salt. It may contain up to 2% broad bean flour, up to 0.5% soya flour, and up to 0.3% wheat malt flour.

Standard baguettes, baguettes ordinaires, are made with baker's yeast, artisan-style loaves are usually made with a pre-ferment (poolish) to increase flavor complexity and other characteristics, and may include whole-wheat flour, or other grains such as rye.

Baguettes are closely connected to France, though they are made around the world. In France, not all long loaves are baguettes; for example, a short, almost rugby ball-shaped loaf is a bâtard (literally, bastard), or a "torpedo loaf" in English; its origin is variously explained, but undocumented. Another tubular shaped loaf is known as a flûte, also known in the United States as a parisienne. Flûtes closely resemble baguettes but are about twice the size.

A thinner loaf is called a ficelle (string). A short baguette is sometimes known as a baton (stick), or in the UK referred to using the English translation French stick. None of these are officially defined, either legally or, for instance, in major dictionaries, any more than the baguette. French breads are also made in forms such as a miche, which is a large pan loaf, and a boule, literally ball in French, a large round loaf. Sandwich-sized loaves are sometimes known as demi-baguettes or tiers. Italian baguettes, or baguette italienne, involves more spices and a denser texture, giving the baguette a slightly different, more Italian, taste. Un pain viennois is much sweeter and softer than the standard baguette.

In France, a baguette typically weighs around 250 g (8+3⁄4 oz), a bâtard 500 g (17+1⁄2 oz) and a ficelle 100 g (3+1⁄2 oz); no legal text actually establishes any of these weights, which can vary throughout the country. Baguettes, either relatively short single-serving size or cut from a longer loaf, are very often used for sandwiches, usually of the submarine sandwich type, but also a panini. They are often sliced and served with pâté or cheese. As part of the traditional continental breakfast in France, slices of baguette, known as tartines, are spread with butter and jam and dunked in bowls of coffee or hot chocolate.

Baguettes are generally made as partially free-form loaves, with the loaf formed with a series of folding and rolling motions, raised in cloth-lined baskets or in rows on a flour-impregnated towel, called a couche, and baked either directly on the hearth of a deck oven or in special perforated pans designed to hold the shape of the baguette while allowing heat through the perforations. American-style "French bread" is generally much fatter and is not baked in deck ovens, but in convection ovens.

As of the 2000s, there is increasing customer demand in France for only partially baked baguettes. In 2004, the bakery chain Marie Blachère introduced the option to select three varieties of baguettes distinguished by baking time: bien cuite (well done), dorée (golden) and blanche (white).

Outside France, baguettes are also made with other doughs. For example, the Vietnamese bánh mì uses a high proportion of rice flour, while many North American bakeries make whole wheat, multigrain, and sourdough baguettes alongside French-style loaves. In Cambodia, it is found in the form of hot sandwich filled called num pang. In addition, even classical French-style recipes vary from place to place, with some recipes adding small amounts of milk, butter, sugar, or malt extract, depending on the desired flavor and properties in the final loaf.

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