Things to look for in a good baguette:
First, if like many of us who grew up with sandwiches and toast, it may be a surprise that if the bread comes in slices, is wrapped in plastic, or has an expiration date, this is not even worthy of the name “baguette.” A real baguette will not stay fresh any longer than 24 hours.
Next, flip over the baguette. Is there a honeycomb pattern marking the underside? If yes, dismiss this as a sorry baguette imitation. Patterns in the bread mean that it was baked in a factory, on wire racks, for quicker cooking time. Next, assuming no wire marks, we can inspect the color. The bottom of the baguette can be slightly darker than the top, but it shouldn’t have burn marks or dark streaks.
The top side of the bread should be a honey-beige color with evenly spaced slice-marks along the top.
Now, we’re getting to the good part. When you tear into the baguette, the mie– the guts of the bread, should be a light-buttery color- not white. Unlike the American or English sandwich bread, the French baguette has muscle to it. When you squeeze the mie it should be a bit elastic; it won’t buckle immediately under the pressure of a butter knife or a hard morceau of cheese. A baguette should be crusty on the outside with the inside unevenly spaced with air bubbles. Uniform air bubbles are a very bad sign and means you’ll be eating a very mediocre bread.
Now the taste test: A baguette shouldn’t be bland, but rather nuanced in flavor. It should be crusty on the outside and lightly nutty flavor with the inside having a bit of a slightly sweet note to it. I heard someone once say a good baguette is like a good chardonnay – it can be paired with savory dishes as well as sweet.