Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Whole Grain Baguettes

This recipe sounds a bit complicated, but once you've done it a couple of time, it a snap to do and a joy to serve, This version uses mostly ground whole grains and just a small % of white flour.
The dietary and flavor benefits of using whole grains will be covered in future posts. Suffice it to say here that the whole grains have the benefits of all unprocessed food. This can be of great importance to those have diabetes or have been diagnosed as pre-diabetic.

Ingredients: (makes 4 11 ounce (approx) baguettes)

2 Packages active dry yeast (5 teaspoons)

3 Cups water total (1/2 cup is used for proofing the yeast, and the remaining 2-1/2 cups is used later)
6 Cups of ground whole grains (Typically we might use 2 cups ground wheat berries, 2 cups ground rye berries, 1 cup of ground barley, and 1 cup of steel cut oats.)
1 Cup of unbleached bread or all purpose flour.
A generous pinch of powdered vitamin C (see note in directions below)

3-1/2 Teaspoons salt (we use unrefined sea salt... you may use less salt if you wish, but do NOT omit because it will alter the dough chemistry and produce an unsatisfactory result)


Stir the yeast into 1/2 cup of warm (100 degree) water. Set aside until foamy. Then stir in the vitamin C (Note- a crushed Vitamin C tablet will do and if you don't have any just omit)

It is vital that the rest of the water, 2-1/2 cups) be at the correct temperature for this method. Let the tap run until the water is cold to the touch and run the 2-1/2 cups into a measuring pitcher. Add 3 ice cubes and wait until the temperature is down to about 60 degrees.

To mix with a dough hook mixer (like a Kitchen Aid) follow these directions. If you do not have a stand mixer, we suggest you check out the mixing and kneading directions on www.easybreadbaking.com
Pour 6 cups of the flour into the mixing bowl. Add the bubbly yeast mixture along with about 1-1/2 cups of the cooled water. Mix on slowest speed for 3 mins. Increase the speed to medium and run for another 5 minutes. When the dough rises on the dough hook just push it down and continue. At the end of 5 minutes add the salt and the remaining 1 cup of flour and continue for another 2 minutes. (It is sometimes necessary to add additional flour to get a good elastic dough consistency. If you think that is necessary, it is OK to use more of the white flour.

Allow the dough to rise in a large bowl for about an hour, more or less depending on room temperature. Cover with damp cloth or disposable shower cap and allow to rise to double in volume. This usually takes about one hour depending on room temperature.
Turn the dough out on a floured board or counter and form into a ball and divide roughly into four pieces. Then work each of these pieces into a 14-18 inch roll and place in an oiled (cooking spray works well) baguette pans. (If you don't have pans, you may simply place them on an oiled baking sheet. The shape won't be entirely baguette like, nut you will have a good crispy loaf.) Cut the top of the loaves with a serrated knife, either with several diagonal slits or one slit down the length. Cover with a damp cloth (you do not want to use terry cloth. a linen or cotton towel is best) and let rise until about double in size.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees and spritz 3 or 4 times with water from a spray bottle. Place in oven and bake for 20-30 minutes. (20 minutes will suffice at sea level and you will probably want the full 30 minutes in mountainous area like ours in Magdalena.  If you are putting the pans on 2 separate oven racks, it is a very good idea to switch them at about the mid point in baking so that loves will be more uniformly baked.
Remove the bread from the oven and test by thumping on the bottom of the loaf. If there is a hollow sound, your bread is finished... if not, return to oven for a few minutes and thump again.

After cooling on a wire rack, the bread is ready to slice and enjoy. If you wish, you may store these baguettes in the freezer for as long as a few months. Then remove and thaw before placing in a hot oven for about 5 minutes to crisp the crust.

Sound like to much trouble? Try it a couple of times and you'll probably agree that it is worth the extra effort and time.

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