Thursday, February 21, 2013

Half Whole Wheat Baguettes

I've never been to France, but thanks to the wonders of the palate I've been able to travel there many a time. I adored good French cheese (especially Brie, Reblochon and Tomme de Savoie) and crepes growing up, and still have a fondness for ratatouille. But there is something iconic and captivating about French bread. From the wider oblongs to the crusty boules and the perfectly airy baguettes, the flavour always seemed to stand apart from the "usual" loaves out there, even homemade ones.

Bag(uette) EndWhen I found the recipe for real, homemade baguettes in Jane Mason's book All You Knead is Bread back in December, I knew I had found my next project. With the holidays coming up with their parties and canapes, it was the perfect opportunity to try out a classical offering. The finished loaves were nothing short of spectacular - tangy and slightly nutty from the predough and whole wheat flour I used, evenly crumbed in texture and perfectly crusty on the outside. I used wine bottle shipping cylinders that I halved and wrapped in foil for shaping and baking, which led to perfectly formed bread without the extra expense of a specialty pan.

For this month's #RecipeRedux, we're all about movies, and the Oscars in particular. Using thin, bias-cut slices of these loaves as the base for cherry tomato and green onion bruschetta made me think of the passed hors d'oeuvres at the well-to-do gala parties after awards ceremonies like this weekend's event. Loaves of bread also always evoke memories of scenes in Ratatouille, Aladdin and Disney's version of A Christmas Carol, although none of them hinge their plots on the foodstuff itself. No matter - bread is the embodiment of spirit, and homemade bread is filled with the same artistic passion as the most well-written movie script.


Half Whole Wheat Baguettes
Makes 3 loaves, 30 slices

100 g active sourdough starter
50 g whole wheat flour
50 mL water
¼ tsp instant yeast

Final Dough:
200 g all-purpose flour
200 g whole wheat bread flour (or regular whole wheat flour + ½ tbsp vital wheat gluten)
1 ¼ tsp instant yeast
1 tbsp salt
½ tsp ground ginger
½ tsp turmeric
200 mL warm water

The night before you bake:
  1. Mix the “predough” ingredients in a bowl until smooth. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rest for 12-24 hours.
The next day:
  1. Mix the flours, yeast, salt and ginger in a large bowl (or the bowl of a stand mixer with the dough hook).
  2. Add the water and “predough”. Mix well.
  3. Scrape onto a lightly floured surface (or start the mixer) and knead for 15 minutes, taking care to avoid adding more than ¼ cup flour (the dough should be soft and pillowy).
  4. Place the kneaded dough back into the bowl and cover. Allow to rest for 30 minutes.
  5. With the dough still in the bowl, pretend the blob of dough is a clock. Starting at noon, gently pinch one centimetre of the dough’s edge and pull it up and out, stretching it as far as you can without breaking it. Fold that pinched bit over the blob of dough. Repeat all round the blob of dough.
  6. Re-cover and allow to rest for 30 minutes.
  7. Stretch and fold the dough this way once more in the bowl.
  8. Re-cover and allow to rest for 30 minutes.
  9. Scrape out onto an unfloured surface (UNfloured is important here).
  10. Stretch and fold the dough and roll it into a loose sausage. Cover with a dry tea towel and allow to rest for 10 minutes.
  11. Divide the dough into three equal portions, and stretch and fold each.
  12. Shape them all into loose balls, cover and allow to rest for 15 minutes.
  13. Stretch and fold each ball again and roll up into tight log shapes. Cover and allow to rest for five minutes.
  1. Grease 3 baguette pans or heavily flour a tea towel and place it in a roasting pan with deep sides, making sure the tea towel comes well up the sides of the pan.
  2. Pick up one log and move it away from you.
  3. Starting with your hands together in the middle of each log, thumbs completely touching, roll dough toward you as you move your wrists (not your hands) apart so that the fingertips of the index finger and the fingertips of the middle finger on each hand meet.
  4. Pick up the dough, move it away from you and roll again as above. Do this as many times as you need to get the length you would like. Don’t use any downward pressure, just gentle outward pressure.
  5. Baguettes (Almost Done!)Repeat with the rest of the sausages of dough.
  6. Lay the baguettes one by one in the prepared pans or on the towel in the roasting pan, making sure there is a deep fold in the towel between each baguette so that they do not stick together as they rise (if you do not have enough baguettes to fill the roasting pan, wedge them together with something like an upturned loaf pan or a book so they rise up and not out).
  7. Cover and allow to rest for 30–45 minutes or until doubled in size.
  1. Preheat the oven to 450˚F.
  2. If you are using baguette pans, make slashes in the tops of the baguettes with a sharp knife and spray with fresh water from a plant sprayer to help achieve a crispy crust.
  3. If you proofed the dough on tea towels, gently pick up each baguette and lay it down on a prepared baking sheet. Make slashes in the tops of the baguettes with a sharp knife and spray with fresh water from a plant sprayer to help achieve a crispy crust.
  4. Bake the baguettes for about 20 minutes, until golden brown.
  5. Remove from the oven and transfer immediately to a wire rack.
Amount Per Serving
Calories: 51.5
Total Fat: 0.3 g
Cholesterol: 0.0 mg
Sodium: 13.8 mg
Total Carbs: 11.0 g
Dietary Fiber: 1.2 g
Protein: 1.8 g

Also submitted to YeastSpotting at Wild Yeast

1 comment :

  1. Looks great. Why do you use ginger and tumeric in this recipe?


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