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Pain d’Epi (Wheat Stalk Bread)

My breadmaking has fallen by the wayside recently. Life and lack of organisation got in the way. After another tasteless pappy supermarket loaf I decided to get back on the breadmaking wagon. I’ve seen Pain d’Epi before but have never attempted to make it myself. It is a great deal easier to make than it looks, I promise. Even easier than shaping a plain, boring straight loaf.

I like that it portions up the bread which (in theory) means I should have some self-control over it. Ahem, not quite so. Bread still warm from the oven, torn in half then slathered in butter is frankly irresistible.

As with most bread the longer and slower the bread is left to rise the better the flavour. In total this bread took 24 hours to make, but in reality it doesn’t have to be. If something stuffs up your breadmaking schedule knock back the dough, put in the fridge and come back to it later. This is what happened here when Jubilee celebrations got in the way of good bread.

Use cornmeal or polenta to stop the bread sticking to the tray. it also gives a nice crunch to the bottom of the bread. To see some good photos of how to cut the bread look on Artisan Bread in Five Minutes site.

Pain d’Epi (Wheat Stalk Bread)
Makes 2 small loaves

400g strong white bread flour

100g pasta ’00′ flour (or plain flour)

8g salt

5g fast action yeast

150ml warm water

150ml milk

polenta

 

1) Mix together the two flours then add the salt and yeast to the mixture.

2) Add both the milk and warm water to the flour and mix until well combined.

3) Knead the bread for around 10 minutes until dough is soft.

4) Place in a clean, oiled bowl, cover in clingfilm and leave for 1-2 hours, or until nearly doubled in size.

5) Knock the dough back and allow to rise a second time.

6) Split the dough in half. Take one piece, flatten then fold in thirds. Take this piece dough and gently stretch until you have a long sausage. Place on a baking tray that is coated well in polenta. Cover with the clingfilm and leave to rise for 30 min. Repeat with the remaining piece of dough.

7) Preheat oven to 240°c (or as high as you oven will go). Place a tray of boiling water at the bottom of the oven. This will help to create steam that will give your bread a great crust.

8) When the bread has finished rising dust with flour. Starting at one end of the dough sausage use a pair of scissor to cut slits at a 45°c angle through the dough. Make sure you don’t cut all the way through.

9) Part each piece of dough so it is pointing in alternate directions.

10) Bake at 240°c for 10min then turn down the oven to 180°c and bake for a further 10-min until bread is risen, golden and makes a hollow tap sound underneath.

11) Allow to cool on a wire rack. Yeah right. If you’re anything like me you’ll be tearing it open  as soon as it’s cool enough to touch.

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About the author

Jules

Freelance food geek who's passionate about food education.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.butcherbakerblog.com/2012/06/11/pain-depi-wheat-stalk-bread/

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  1. Sally - My Custard Pie

    Have always wanted to make one of these – you’ve inspired me…great instructions as always.

  2. Jen Price

    I’m inspired to give this a go. Even though I regularly bake different flavoured breads I nearly always end up baking them as a basic loaf. I agree that bread is definitely best straight from the oven.

  3. laura@howtocookgoodfood

    This loaf would last about 1 second in our house as most freshly baked bread gets demolished. I love this loaf and like the idea of using polenta too which I use as a base for my pizzas, it’s so crunchy!

  4. Beth

    When I looked at the photo I thought ‘now that looks complicated’. Thankfully your method seems to be really simple. Like you I haven’t been doing much breadmaking recently – will have to rectify this (and hope that mine looks as good as yours!)

  5. Fuss Free Helen

    It looks lovely. And I agree about the portioning. inspired!

  6. Liz May Smith

    I have never made bread of any description before (actually that’s not quite too true, I made some under the supervision of my teachers in Primary school when I was 4 or 5, but now that I am an adult) And after reading a few of your posts on handmaking bread I’d really like to try some. However I think it may have to be done over the weekends as I am a busy mum to two little girls aged 2 and 4.
    Speaking of which can you recommend any easy recipes for bread that I could make that include them?
    Thanks L xx

    1. Jules

      Hi Liz, I’d use this calzone recipes. Teaches the basic Breadmaking technique and it’s not the end of the world if the dough doesn’t rise as well as expected. http://www.butcherbakerblog.com/2011/06/09/calzone-bread-making-for-kids/

      Let me know how you get on.

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