Pain D’Epi or Wheat Stalk Bread
From Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day
Hands-on time: 10 minutes
Rest time: minimum…2 hours on the counter or (and my favorite way) up to 14 days in a lidded but not air tight container in the fridge.
Shaping and second rising: 30 minutes
Baking time: 25 minutes
Makes 4 (1lb/450g) loaves
3 cups lukewarm water
1 ½ tbsp granulated yeast (I used the one for the bread machine, because … that’s what I had)
1 ½ tbsp salt
6 ½ cups bread flour (I think I needed more because the dough was very wet)
Whole wheat flour for the pizza peel and sprinkling on top of the loaf
To mix & store the dough: I used my KitchenAid with dough hook attachment but you can use a 14 cup capacity food processor or a 5 litre/5 quart bowl and a wooden spoon. No kneading required!
1. Mix the yeast and salt with the water in the (stand mixer) bowl.
2. Mix in the flour at once just until the batter is evenly mixed. Do not knead! It only takes a few minutes in the mixer, slightly longer by hand. The dough should be wet and loose enough to conform to the 5 liter (5 quart) container with a lid but not air tight. I think my dough was a little too wet, so I’ll add a bit more next time around.
3. Cover (not air tight) and allow it to rest at room temperature until the dough rises and collapses – about 2 hours (you can bake the bread from this state) or let it “rest” in the fridge for up to 14 days.
Baking the bread:
1. Dust the surface of the refrigerated (or counter top) dough with flour and cut off a 1 lb piece (they say the size of a grapefruit, but if the recipe makes 4 loaves…I say just cut off a quarter of the dough in the container), recover and place back in the fridge for next time.
2. Quickly (no more than a minute) shape the dough into a ball by stretching the surface of the dough around to the bottom. I had to keep sprinkling with more flour (I used whole wheat), rotating the ball quarter turns as you go. Fold the dough into three, lengthwise like a letter, pinching the seams closed as you fold. Stretch the dough gently into the shape of a baguette. If it shrinks back, let it rest for a minute and continue to work until you have a long, thin baguette .
3. Allow the dough to rest and rise, on a whole wheat flour dusted pizza peel, covered for 30 minutes. Do not slash yet.
4. 30 minutes before baking time, place a baking stone (I use my pizza stone) in the center of the oven and an empty tin broil or cake pan on the lowest shelf. Preheat the oven to 450°F/220°C (hottest setting without broil).
5. Just before baking, dust the loaf with flour. With a sharp pair of scissors snip the loaf from the top down at a 45° angle into the dough, stopping ¼” from the bottom. Fold each cut piece over to the side, alternating with each cut.
6. Slide the loaf directly onto the hot stone. Pour 1 cup of hot water into the empty pan and quickly shut the oven door to keep the steam in. Bake for about 25 minutes. The loaf should be dark golden brown and firm.
7. Allow it to cool before breaking off a section and, even if yours doesn’t look as awesome as those in French bakeries, I promise the flavor will be as delicious as any you’ve tried! Crispy crust and chewy center...perfect!
For the perfect tutorial go to ArtisanBreadinFive...after all Zoe Francois & Jeff Hertzberg are the experts.