Thursday, February 25, 2010

Whole Wheat Baguette Recipe

For those of you who have tried our flour, here's a simple baguette recipe from Theo, a customer in Berkeley:

1 lb Massa Organics whole wheat flour,
1 heaping Tbsp wheat gluten,
1 Tbsp salt,
1 Tbsp yeast;

Combine dry ingredients, then mix in 2 cup cool water until the
consistency of cookie dough; let the dough autolyze (sit for a while while
the gluten forms), then knead; roll into baguettes and coat with poppy
seeds; bake 25 minutes at 400°F.

7 comments:

Nico said...

You guys have a whole wheat flour?!?!??

Marc said...

Based on my years of baking bread at home, this is a very unusual recipe. Unlike every other bread recipe I have ever seen, it doesn't have a period of rising after kneading, nor does it have a rising time after shaping. Do you really shape it immediately after finishing the kneading, and then immediately put it in the oven? Doesn't the yeast need some time to activate and do its thing?

Also, how long is "a while"? 10 minutes? 1 hour? 2 hours?

Or are all of these unusual parts of the recipe specially designed to be compatible with the characteristics of Massa's whole wheat flour?

Greg said...

Hi Marc, I've asked Theo, who gave me the recipe, to help out with your questions. I'll let you know when I hear back from him.

Thanks for the feedback!

Greg

Theo said...

Hi Marc and all,

What I've learned from years of baking is that bread is just about the most robust thing you can make: do just about anything, stick it in the oven, and chances are you'll get a yummy product at the end. As far as I can tell, there have been two major innovations in bread making in the last fifty years, that haven't worked their way into most cook books:

(1) The older and more basic one is that modern instant dry yeast is fool proof. You do not need to start it in warm water with honey, or any of the things older books say, because it will start. Yeast develops more flavor if you let it go longer and wetter, so it's better to just use cool water and let the bread proof all day. Then after shaping, the yeast will still be alive, and between its heightened activity in the warm oven and the water evaporating, you should get a good oven bounce.

(2) You should basically never knead bread, or at least not very much. Yeast and flour both prefer lots of cool water. If the dough is very moist, the flour will glutenize on its own (this is the autolyze step). Machine kneading runs the risk of losing some flavor from the flour, although this is about impossible by hand (your hands will cramp first). But even hand-kneading can destroy the bubbles and make for too fine a crumb. In particular, overkneaded bread just won't have as much of an oven bounce as underkneaded bread will, because the gluten will be too strong and won't let the dough separate. Now, I say all of this, but usually plain whole wheat flour won't actually make a great baguette on its own. The problem is not that whole wheat flour doesn't have enough gluten — white flour has simply had the germ stripped off, and sometimes it's bleached (which is a whole separate rant: bleached flour will never caramelize in the oven, and so the bread comes out _white_, not lovely golden). The problem with whole wheat flour is that it has all sorts of other nutrients in it, and those nutrients are very healthy and tasty, but interfere with the gluten formation (sugar does too). So I add a little vital wheat gluten to my whole wheat breads.

In any case, bread is: salt, water, flour, yeast. And whatever else you want to add, but those four should not be dropped (in particular, salt-less bread is basically gross-tasting, because salt is important for the chemistry of taste cells: you can dramatically decrease the amount of salt, because the tongue is extremely salt sensitive, but you should not leave it out).

Overall, of course, you should do the recipes you like. Just don't worry about them. E.g. "a while", for me, means "go do something else in another room, long enough to forget that you were making bread, and then remember, oh!, bread!"

-Theo

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