If you are already a reader of Bombance, my other blog (the one in French), you may have noticed that our family is quite keen on whole grain, or rather, the grown-ups are. The kids do not care one bit about the nutritional benefits and they are harder to convince.
So I am always on the lookout for breads that everybody will like and that will still be 100% wholesome.
Since we all love baguettes, kids included, I decided to try making whole grain ones to see whether or not they would do the trick and I looked in Peter Reinhart’s Whole Grain Breads: New Techniques, Extraordinary Flavor for an idea.
I like Reinhart’s indomitable energy and endless quest. Being one of the best-known bakers/bread book writers in the US, he could rest on his laurels and just develops new recipes but he doesn’t. He’s always on the lookout for new methods, patrolling the border between baking and bread science. I love it!
As Michel Suas, President and co-founder of the San Francisco Baking Institute) put it in his phone interview with Jeremy from Stir the Pots , bread baking is like a treasure hunt. You spend a lot of time looking but it is all made worth while when you make a find.
Well, the Bombance/Farine family surely enjoyed this particular treasure. The baguettes are delicious. They are no stand-ins for the traditional Parisian baguettes made with a poolish, levain, a sponge or any other fermented dough. They are a different animal altogether, a breed in themselves. Good, crusty with a delicately nutty taste.
We found that they go very well with cheese (we didn’t have any Brie but I bet they would be amazing with a runny cheese) as well as with orange marmalade or honey at breakfast. My son-in-law loved them with his avocado-lime salad.
Reinhart’s secret is that he uses two pre-ferments, a soaker which stays at room temperature for 24 hours and a stiff levain (a biga can also be used and Reinhart provides the instructions for that as well) which spends some time in the fridge.
The time the levain spends in the fridge stimulates enzymatic activity and the development of taste without exhausting the yeast or the sugars (present in the flour). The addition of instant yeast at the end makes for a shorter second rise without compromising the taste (since the taste has already been maximized by the preferments).
The book contains many recipes. I picked the Multigrain Hearth Bread partly because I had some cooked kamut grain which I wanted to use but mostly because I just love the combination of tastes and textures.
I could have made two loaves or bâtards but, as mentioned above, I chose to make baguettes to trick the kids into eating a 100% whole grain bread and it worked! Thank you, Peter Reinhart!
Ingredients (pour 4 baguettes):
For the soaker:
- 25 g whole wheat flour (organic and stone-ground if possible)
- 170 g of a mix of cooked and raw grains (the large grains such as wheat, kamut or spelt must be cooked, smaller ones like millet, quinoa, amaranth, etc. can go in raw but Reinhart prefers to cook them) (for this interpretation of his recipe, I used: 70 g cooked kamut, 43 g raw sunflower seeds, 37 g uncooked 10-grain cereal and 20 g kamut flakes straight out of the bag)
- 4 g salt
- 170 g water
For the final dough:
- 398 g stiff whole wheat starter (hydration rate: 75%) (this starter had spent 12 hours in the fridge. I took it out 2 hours before I mixed the dough)
- 401 g soaker (in other words, the whole thing)
- 565 g whole wheat flour
- 5 g salt
- 7 g instant yeast
- 14 g oil (I used extra-virgin olive oil)
- additional whole wheat flour as needed
- Mix all the ingredients of the soaker with the water and let stand at room temperature for 24 hours
- One day later, divide the soaker and the stiff levain into a dozen small pieces with a metal dough cutter. Sprinkle whole wheat flour on these 24 pieces to avoid their sticking together
- Put them in a large bowl with all the other ingredients (except for the additional flour) and mix vigorously with wet hands until incorporated. The dough should be slack and sticky (add flour or water as needed)
- Sprinkle flour on the counter. Put the dough on it and roll it in the flour. Knead for 3 or 4 minutes, adding just enough flour so that it doesn’t stick any more
- Shape into a rough boule (ball) and let rest 5 minutes. During that time, spray oil into a bowl or dough bucket
- Knead again for one minute or until the dough is developed enough to pass the windowpane test (for more info on the windowpane test, see this page of Susan’s blog, Wild Yeast) (I had to knead for quite a few minutes to reach that stage, maybe because I only used 20 g of additional flour. I always find it very difficult to determine how much is too much when an author tells you to add flour without giving you an idea of how much and I often err on the side of not quite enough)
- Place the dough (shaped as a boule) in the bowl or bucket, cover and let ferment at room temperature for 45 to 60 minutes (this is Reinhart’s recommendation. Since I had to go out, I set the dough to rise in a cold room – not the refrigerator though – for about 3 hours and since it wasn’t very developed, I gave it a fold after 40 minutes before leaving the house. Ideally I should have given it another fold but I wasn’t around to do it. For more info on folding dough, please refer to Susan’s blog again)
- Take the dough out of the bowl or bucket and place it on the counter (lightly sprinkled with flour). Divide it in 4 pieces
- Form each of the pieces into a rough cylinder. Let rest 20 minutes under a damp towel
- Shape 4 baguettes trying not to deflate the dough
- Put the baguettes either on a floured couche or in a floured baguette pan. Place in a large clear plastic bag. Blow into the bag once and close it tightly
- Let rise at room temperature for about 45 minutes
- Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F/260 C twenty minutes before baking time after putting in it a baking stone and an empty metal pan
- When the second rise is over, take the baguettes out of the bag, sprinkle them with whole wheat flour and score them (make three parallel cuts length-wise at a 45-degree angle taking care not to cut diagonally)
- Pour one cup of cold water into the empty metal pan (taking care to avert your face and to protect your hands as the steam will be very hot) and place the baguettes directly on the baking stone (if using a couche. If using a baguette pan, set the pan on the stone)
- Spray water in the oven (taking care not to aim at the lamp). Spray again heavily two minutes later
- Lower the oven temperature do 450 F/232 C. Do not open the oven door for the next 20 minutes
- After 20 minutes, rotate the baguettes (if using a pan, take the baguettes out of it and set them on the stone). Bake another 15 minutes
- Take the baguettes out of the oven and set them to cool on a rack before eating.
We had just started dinner when the baguettes came out of the oven, so we only waited 20 minutes before slicing open the first one. As our house isn’t very warm in this season and the baguettes are rather skinny, it had cooled down enough.