Wednesday, May 26, 2010
Hooray, hooray, I love the month of May!
The month of May seems like a good time to talk about favourites, since May happens to be, hands down, my favourite month of the year. The grass and trees are green, the temperature divine, days last long(er) into the night - oh why can't it be May all year long?
During the past months of bread baking by hand, I have also discovered that my favourite bread is a baguette style multi grain loaf. It's so very simple, not at all perfect in shape, as I can't seem to master the transition from cookie sheet to hot baking stone in the oven quite right. It is not in the least sweet, crispy on the outside, soft on the inside, with white flour and a good variety of grains coexisting in perfect harmony. (I use Robin Hood Multi Grain Bread Flour.) I love that I can whip up fancy crostini toppings and toast this bread, sliced, in yummy olive oil. At the same time, I can cut 6 inch chunks, and make sub sandwiches for school lunches. And who can resist a little peanut butter and Nutella smothered in between two fresh slices? I certainly can't...
Multi Grain Baguette
2 1/2 cups white bread Flour
1 1/2 cups multi grain bread flour
2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
12 fl oz warm water
First, start by stirring the yeast into the warm water. Allow yeast to froth up, about 10 minutes.
Combine flours with the salt, and once the yeast is ready, combine both and, using your fingers, work together into a tacky ball. The dough should not be too sticky, just a bit.
Place dough on your counter top, knead for 8 - 10 minutes.
Place in a bowl, cover with a tea towel and set in a draft free, warm place (24 C) for 1 hour, or until doubled in volume.
Divide the dough in half. Flatten each portion slightly with your palm, then fold in one side to the middle, then the next. Roll up horizontally to make a baguette. You can make 2 - 12 inch baguettes, or 4 - 6 inch.
Place the baguettes on a tea towel which has been lightly dusted with flour. Make sure they are spaced far enough apart so they can double in size without touching. Cover with second towel.
Rise until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 475 F with your baking stone inside.
Scour the bread tops with your sharpest knife, preferably one with a smooth edge, to avoid pulling the dough.
Using a pizza paddle or a cookie sheet dusted with flour, slide the baguettes onto the hot baking stone in the oven. Spray the inside of the oven a few times with a water spray bottle, and quickly close the oven. (This creates that lovely crunchy crust.) Avoid opening the oven for at least 5 minutes.
Bake for 10 - 15 minutes.
Remove bread from the oven, knock on the bottoms - if it sounds hallow, the bread is ready.