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)
5g fast action yeast
150ml warm water
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.