Trader Joe’s Organic French Baguette

I truly love a good, crispy authentic French Baguette and am always on the look out for a good one. In my search around NYC, I’ve bought and tried many a baguette from many bakeries around town, especially those I’ve seen listed as “Best in NYC”. While some are better than others, really almost none I thought lived up to the “Best Baguette” title (and lets face it compared to what you might buy at almost any bakery in Paris, we’re at a severe disadvantage).

The KAYSER baguette is actually “Best in NYC” IMO. THIS is what a baguette should taste like! I’m always amazed at how fantastic MAISON KAYSER’S breads are. Watch the video below with Maitre Eric. If you make bread you will understand one reason is they use a very long ferment time and special traditional “levain” which produces a far superior taste and structure. Not sure if they import flour from France or not… But if you are able to, if they have a bakery where you like, try a MAISON KAYSER baguette.  You too may have an “Aha!” moment, and learn that a really good Baguette is possible to make in the U.S. after all (link to Master Baker Eric Kayser in action on Youtube)

That said, as good as the bread is there, it does have a small drawback. Not only do you have to make a special trip there, MAISON KAYSER stuff, due to the quality, does not come cheap. A baguette from KAYSER commands a premium price, and I’ve seen many prices hikes. A baguette now sells for about 3.50 for a baguette and $3.50 for an  “Epi” baguette(EDIT: cost of a baguette there has creeped up every few months; a baguette is now a pretty steep $3.75 – AUG 2019) 

All of this leads me to so when I saw a “FRENCH BAGUETTE” at Trader Joe’s for $1.69 (in a brown/green bag) I thought let’s give this a try, frankly not expecting too much. This bread was pretty good, crispy, well baked. I’d even say it was on a par with many bakeries I’ve tried around NYC, albeit paying about double the price. I give the regular TJ French Baguette a “very good for the price”. But they have a better baguette there. Its the one in a WHITE BAG. Seek it out. So the day I tried the “OK baguette” from TJ, by coincidence the next day I happened to be there again and that day the Sample Station was serving samples of another baguette they sell: ORGANIC FRENCH BAGUETTE (come in a white bag). The sample they were giving out was a hunk of the organic baguette baked with cheese to super crispy (Wow, do they know how to feature a product! The store smelled amazing)

Now this baguette was another level higher. I confess I went back for seconds. The two bread packages look different : WHITE for the ORGANIC one (sealed in a heavy white paper bag). This one sells for $1.99. The other is in a BROWN & GREEN bag, and that is 30 cents less ($1.69). So why is the WHITE BAG baguette so much superior? Well it does say ORGANIC and as well as “ARTISAN STYLE“. The organic version is an improved version of the “normal” (non-organic) Baguette and is only 30 cents more.

The slightly more pricey ORGANIC BAGUETTE has a much more profound flavor plus a better, chewier interior texture or crumb (“la mie”, the interior of a bread). One reason is the bag states they use a 3-hour rise (fermentation) which I am guessing is probably twice or more as long as the regular baguette? Plus I’m betting the organic flour in this one is a better quality flour? In short, the extra 30 cents you will spend for the upgraded Baguette is well worth it. Buy the white packaged one. The only “downside” to it is this. ARTISAN ORGANIC FRENCH BAGUETTE is sold a bit under baked. The package states that you should bake this bread in a 400 degree oven for ten minutes for its full effect. If you don’t, its still not bad, but  you won’t really taste it at its prime and the way its intended to taste. It’s worth the time and effort.

In a hurry? In an pinch, at least toast some slices up under the broiler (or in a toaster oven). I’ve even toasted it up on the stovetop in a black cast iron pan. Its worth the trouble. If you take the time to bake this you will get an excellent baguette! While I can’t say the TJ Organic French Baguette is exactly the equal to one from Maison Keyser, its not terribly far away either. Its one of the better commercial baguettes I’ve bought, period. This especially tastes great if you eat it with some really good butter like TJ’s “CULTURED FRENCH BUTTER” or Kerrygold Irish butter  Good butter on this baguette still warm just out of the oven is amazing! Try it. Or do as TJ’s sample guy did and bake in some cheese. Ditto, amazing.

In summary, this baguette is another excellent product from Trader Joes. For $1.99 it’s an excellent value, and worth buying if you can find it. It seems to sell out quickly. I guess word has gotten out what how good and what a good value this baguette is.