March 30, 2011

Light Whole Wheat Baguette

The bread journey's another Artisan recipe which turned out fabulous. The baguette is made with a mixture of whole wheat and white flour for a lighter texture. I'm still practicing my bread-shaping skills, but I'm getting better. I think one key is to not be afraid to use a lot of flour when shaping the dough. Having enough flour prevents the dough from sticking to hands or the work surface. I don't know if this is the proper method or not, but I stretched the dough into a cylinder and then flattened it slightly. Then I brought the two sides of the rectangle together and pinched the seam to form a better cylinder (the seam goes on the bottom).

Light Whole Wheat Baguette
adapted from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day by Good Life Eats

makes four 1 lb. loaves

3 cups 110 degree F water
1 1/2 tablespoons granulated yeast
1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
2 1/2 cups freshly ground hard white wheat flour
4 cups all-purpose flour

To prepare the dough:
Combine the water, yeast, and salt in a large 5-quart bowl or resealable, lidded (but not airtight) plastic food container. The yeast does not need to proof as in traditional recipes.

Mix the whole wheat and all-purpose flour together in a medium bowl, then add it to the large bowl containing the water. Stir the flour into the water mixture using a wooden spoon. You don't need to knead the bread, but if stirring becomes too hard you can reach your wet hands into the bowl and press the mixture together.

Cover the container with a lid (not airtight). Let the dough rise at room temperature for 2-5 hours - until it begins to collapse or flatten on top.

After this, you can take a portion of the dough to make a loaf at anytime - OR refrigerate the covered container 3 hours or overnight before shaping a loaf.

To shape the loaf:
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Place a baking stone on the middle rack and an empty broiler tray on a lower shelf.

Sprinkle the surface of the refrigerated dough with flour, then cut off a 1 lb. piece for use and return the remaining dough to the refrigerator. A kitchen scale is helpful, or you can estimate by removing a piece about the size of a grapefruit.

Dust the piece with flour and shape it into a ball. Once it is cohesive, you can stretch and elongate the dough to form a cylinder approximately 2 inches in diameter. Dust a pizza peel (or sheet of parchment if you don't have one) with whole wheat flour. Place the loaf on the dusted surface and let rest for 20 minutes.

After resting, paint water over the surface of the loaf with a pastry brush. Then, using a serrated bread knife make longitudinal, diagonal slashes across the top of the loaf.

Slide the loaf onto the hot stone. Add 1 cup of hot water to the broiler tray and immediately shut the oven door. Bake for 25 minutes, or until deep brown and firm to the touch. Cool before eating.

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