The other day, I had a craving. It wasn’t just to eat good bread, but it was to make it. I didn’t have the patience to do the whole, “wait for it overnight” thing. I wanted to make bread that I could enjoy later that same day.
I found the kind of recipe I was looking for over at SteamyKitchen.com, but I adapted it to incorporate whole wheat flour (and also added a little honey). Jaden Hair, the author of the SteamyKitchen.com blog as well as The Steamy Kitchen Cookbook: 101 Asian Recipes Simple Enough for Tonight’s Dinner does a wonderful job explaining how to make bread in a day and as usual, includes beautiful photographs of the steps you need to take.
I’m pretty new to bread making, but I’ve been on a rampage lately, making bread, and more consistently, pizza dough. I’ll definitely be posting about pizza dough soon, but I will leave you with this teaser. My favorite combination for pizza dough? “00 flour + Dark Rye Flour.” Yum.
But I digress. This bread came out just the way I wanted it to. Crunchy on the outside, great texture on the inside and the nutty/sweet flavor of whole wheat and honey. I used a pizza stone because I like the way it holds so much heat, helping the bread to cook evenly. Jaden includes advice/tricks for what to do if you don’t have a pizza stone. I’m definitely going to make this bread again.
Whole Wheat Sweet French Baquette
Makes 2 loaves
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 3/4 cups all-purpose white flour
1 Tbsp honey
2 tsp instant dry yeast
2 tsp salt
1 1/2 – 2 cups warm water
1. Set aside the bag of white flour to dust your surface with later. Place remaining white and whole wheat flour in the bowl of a stand-up mixer. With your spoon, swirl the yeast on one side of the bowl and then swirl the salt on the other side. Pour the warm water in a well in the middle of the flour. Using the mixer paddle, mix on low speed until the dough comes together in a mass, then switch to the dough hook. Mix on medium speed for 2 minutes. The dough should come together and clear the sides but some of it will continue to stick to the bottom. You may need to add additional water. If so, do so, one tablespoon at a time. After 2 minutes, let the dough rest for 5 minutes. After the dough has rested for 5 minutes, turn on the mixer again and knead with the dough hook for 3 minutes.
2. Take the dough out and place on a wooden cutting board dusted with the white flour. If the dough is still too sticky, you will incorporate a little more flour into while you knead it. If it doesn’t need additional flour, then just knead the dough by hand until it is very satiny, smooth, tight and formed into a nice, compact ball.
3. Place the dough in a large lightly oiled bowl (I use olive oil). Turn dough over to coat it on all sides. Cover with a damp, clean dish towel. and set in warm place for 1 1/2 hours. Dough should almost double in size during this rest time. About 1 hour into this stage, preheat the oven to 450F and place pizza stone (if you have one) into the oven to preheat it as well.
4. After the dough has risen for an hour and a half, punch it down and form it back into a ball. Cut the dough into half, placing one ball back in the bowl and covered with a towel. Pick up the dough you’re working with and stretch it out until it forms a big rectangle. On the wooden chopping block dusted with flour, fold over each end about an inch and then fold in the long sides until they touch each other. Press down on the middle seam, down the length of the dough get it all tucked in and then pinch then ends shut as well. You want to make sure there is a tight seal to allow the bread to rise and expand evenly while it is baking. Don’t overwork the dough during this stage. It just spent an hour and a half creating tiny bubbles inside and you don’t want to lose all of them at this point.
5. Turn the dough over so that the seam is on the bottom. Place it on a well-floured surface and cover it with a damp kitchen towel. Repeat the whole process with the other dough half. Let the loaves rest for 30 minutes. Then, take a sharp knife and cut several shallow, diagonal slashes on the surface of the loaf. The slashes allow steam to escape during baking so your bread doesn’t burst and crack and everything expands evenly.
6. When you are ready to transfer the dough loaves onto the pizza stone in the oven, get a 1/2 cup of water ready close by. Open the oven, put your bread in the oven and throw the water on the oven floor (literally toss the water out onto the bottom of the oven to create a big steam cloud). Immediately close the oven door to trap the steam inside. Bake for 20-25 minutes. Check temperature of the bread, like you would a steak. The internal temperature should be 190-210F. Remove and let cool slicing it.
Want to learn more about baking bread? Play this instructional cooking video from the Intro to the Stages of Bread Making, part of the Rouxbe Cooking School. Rouxbe.com produces what I believe are the highest quality instructional cooking videos on the web. The site is subscription-based, but you can test it out with a 14-day trial membership. Watching all of the videos systematically and trying out all the techniques is like putting yourself through culinary school.