The earthy fragrance of baking baguettes brings to mind Parisian markets and fresh artisan breads. The chewy, shiny crust and tender interior are the hallmarks of the perfect baguette. The shine comes from steam settling on the bread and quickly evaporating as it bakes. Commercial ovens are equipped with steam injectors to create these steamy conditions, but you can emulate the process in a home oven without fancy equipment.
Fill a cake pan or other small pan two-thirds full with water. Set the pan on the lowest oven rack. Position the upper rack so it sits in the middle of the oven, above the cake pan.
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.
Fill a spray bottle with cool water. Mist the top of each baguette liberally with the water before placing it in the oven. The steam from the cake pan combined with the misted water helps develop a shiny crust.
Monitor the water level in the cake pan, and add more if it begins to boil dry. Turn on the oven light and check the water level through the oven door window. Opening the oven door often allows heat and steam to escape.
Mist the baguette lightly with water a second time, five minutes before the end of baking. Allow the baguette to cool completely after baking so it develops the maximum shine.