I’ve been raving alot about making homemade bread and it all started when I bought the book Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes. I had an utter fear of making bread but it is fear of the unknown that breeds more fear. Plenty of practice, getting a feel for the dough and one will find their own recipe for making homemade bread.
Although bread made with white (all-purpose flour) is hard to beat, I do eat wholewheat slice bread for toast & such but I also want to add some fiber when I eat the “good, crusty bread” you see me recommend with many recipes. Here, I offer you a riff on the artisan homemade bread but this time we have what I think is the ultimate combination of all-purpose and wholewheat flour.
Oh one could go 100% whole wheat but you will likely end up with a heavy, leaden result. The 4 cups white to 2 1/2 whole wheat flour is just right: the white flour giving the dough lift and the whole wheat flour giving you that healthy aspect and fiber without being a heavy weight or deterrence to your goal of a fluffy bread with a nice crust, a bit of chew to the crumb.
If you want the your bread to look like this, then buy the equipment I have listed below – they are all necessary. The pizza peel so you can slide the bread in a pre-heated oven, the pizza stone to help recreate a brick oven environment in your home oven, the serrated knife to slice the bread before baking (helps release moisture while baking) and the cooling rack. Go on, get some wholewheat flour and start baking your own bread. If you’re lucky, you’ll become a bread snob like me!!
Wholewheat Artisan Bread
2 Tbsp. active dry yeast
3 1/2 to 4 cups of warm/tepid water (whole wheat flour will draw in more water than white flour)
1 1/2 Tbsp. coarse sea salt
4 cups all purpose flour
2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
+ extra flour for work surface
Pre-heated 500F oven
- In a large bowl or pail, add your salt, yeast and warm water and stir. Allow for the yeast to activate. After a couple of minutes, add your flour and mix with a large wooden spoon (or use the paddle on your mixer). When the water has been absorbed by the flour, the dough might still be too dry. Add up to another 1/2 cup of tepid water. The dough should feel smooth and not too sticky. Cover but allow an opening so that the gases may escape as the dough rises. You may use the dough to make bread after a minimum of two hours. Ideally, make the dough before you go to bed and form and bake the bread the next morning.
- When you’re ready to form your bread, sprinkle some flour on top of the dough and on your hands. Sprinkle some flour on your work surface as well. Grab a piece of dough and cut it off. Using your fingers, stretch the dough outwards and then fold under the center of the dough for 2-3 minutes. You should now have a smooth round ball of dough. You may keep this shape to make a “boule” style loaf or you may form into a longer loaf, tapered at the ends with your hands. Another shape you can make is a baguette. Roll the dough into a rectangular flat and then roll up into a cylindrical shape. Place your formed dough on your work surface and sprinkle each loaf with all purpose flour. The ring shape you see here is very easy: make the French boule and then stick your hand in the middle and form a hole. Spread the dough out to form a ring and you’re set!
- You must allow the dough to rest and rise for at least 45 minutes (uncovered). Pre-heat your oven and sprinkle some coarse corn flour on your pizza stone’s surface. Place the stone on the middle rack of your oven. Now sprinkle some corn flour on your pizza peel’s surface and place as many loaves as will fit onto it.
- Once your oven has reached 500F, add some hot water into a broil pan and place it on the highest position in your oven. Now using a serrated knife, make slices into the tops of your bread (a cross, three parallel lines or one long slash and then slide the loaves off your pizza peel and onto the stone in the oven.
- Bake your loaves for 10 minutes then lower the heat to 450F and bake another 20 minutes or until just the tops of the bread are golden-brown. Carefully remove your loaves from the oven and place on a cooling rack are they have cooled to room temperature. Your bread is ready to eat!
NOTE: If you can’t find a pizza stone in your area, square terra cotta tiles can be placed on your rack. Go to a gardening/landscaping store and ask to see the squares tiles and make sure they have haven’t been treated with any chemicals (merely baked). Fill the area of your oven rack with inverted tiles and you have a great alternative to a pizza stone!
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© 2007-2010 Peter Minakis
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