Saturday, May 28, 2011

Revisiting Baguettes

I was thinking of revisiting the Baguette recipe I use often in order to bump up its WFQ*. I was simply going to add some whole wheat flour and see how that changed the texture and flavor of the bread. But then I got all into Good to the Grain by Kim Boyce and saw that it included a baguette made with a multigrain flour blend. That had to be more interesting.

The Multigrain Flour Mix (see p.109 in the book), which can be used in place of other whole grain flours in just about any recipe, is made up of 2 parts each whole wheat, oat and barley flours and 1 part each millet and rye flours. The blend was developed by the author with the idea of balancing structure and flavor. The sweeter barley and oat flours are meant to complement the stronger whole wheat flour and the millet and rye add another level of complexity.

After one taste of my Baguette made by swapping out one third of the bread flour with this mix, I thought, “Brava!” and “Spot on!” Oh, and “Yum! Yum!” This was my first experience in baking with a multigrain blend and the flavor was all that I had hoped for. Nay, more! It’s grainy, nutty and malty, and reminded me a bit of that day when you’ve outgrown Cap’n Crunch and have found just the right whole grain breakfast cereal. And the texture was wonderful, too, nice and chewy, and not at all gritty or heavy.

While I mostly just borrowed the recipe for the flour blend and added it to my own Baguette recipe, I did take one bit of procedure from the Good to the Grain. While I usually just make what I call a mini starter and let it stand for only 30 minutes, Boyce makes a poolish (another name for a starter or pre-ferment) that stands overnight. Thinking this might enhance the flavor of the bread even more, I did that this time, too. I made a thinner poolish than my mini starter, with just the Multigrain Flour Mix, and half of the recipe’s yeast. The rest of the yeast was added with the rest of the flour.

There wasn’t much risk for me in putting together this flour blend, since I had all of the flours on hand except the millet flour. (I use whole wheat flour regularly, and used barley flour in these pancakes and stone-ground rye flour in this bread and this pie crust. I haven’t posted anything else containing oat flour yet.) I was hesitant to buy the millet flour just for the 2 tablespoons I needed to make this bread, since it was difficult to find recipes featuring millet flour (there’s not a millet flour chapter in Good to the Grain). I was able to find out, thanks to blogs like Gluten Free Girl and the Chef, that millet flour, because it contains no gluten, is best used to create a sweet flavor and pleasantly crumbly texture in quick breads and cookies.

There were also recipes for baked goods containing millet flour printed on the package in which it came (I used Bob’s Red Mill brand, which I found at this supermarket), but even if I don’t try those, I think I might just use up all that millet flour baking more recipes with the Multigrain Flour Mix. I admit that I had more than my usual amount of optimism heading in, but I had no idea that whole grain baking was going to be this great!

*WFQ: Whole Food Quotient

Multigrain Baguette
Inspired by recipes from Cooking Light magazine and Good to the Grain by Kim Boyce

You can mix up a large a batch of this multigrain flour blend in the same proportions and use 1 cup of the mixture in place of the whole grain flours in this recipe.

2 teaspoons active dry yeast (or 1 envelope), divided
1 ¼ cup warm water (100 to 110 F), divided
¼ cup whole wheat flour
¼ cup oat flour
¼ cup barley flour
2 tablespoons millet flour
2 tablespoons rye flour
2 cups bread flour, divided, plus more if needed
1 teaspoon salt
cooking spray
egg wash (egg beaten with a small amount of water, optional)

1. Dissolve 1 teaspoon yeast in ¼ cup warm water in a large, nonreactive bowl. Let the yeast mixture stand 5 minutes or until foamy.

2. Add whole wheat flour, oat flour, barley flour, millet flour, rye flour and remaining 1 cup warm water to the yeast mixture. Stir until a thin batter forms. Cover with a towel and let stand 6-8 hours (overnight).

3. Stir in the remaining 1 teaspoon yeast (or the rest of the envelope if you are using packaged yeast) and let stand about 5 minutes. Add the salt and 1 cup bread flour to the whole wheat flour mixture. Stir to form a dough. Stir in as much of the remaining bread flour as you can.

4. Turn out the dough onto a floured work surface. Knead the dough for about 8-10 minutes or until it is smooth and elastic, adding enough remaining flour a little at a time to keep dough from sticking. (You could use a heavy-duty mixer with a dough hook for this step.) The final result will be a slightly tacky dough.

5. Place dough in a large bowl coated with cooking spray. Spray the top of the dough and cover loosely with plastic wrap. Cover with a towel and let rise about 1 hour or until double in size.

6. Gently deflate the dough without completely squashing it. Reform into a ball. Cover and let rest 5 minutes. Divide the dough into 3 equal pieces. Working with 1 portion a t a time, roll each portion on a floured surface into a long, narrow loaf. Place the loaves on a well-floured surface or on a floured towel pinched into ridges to form a trough for each loaf. (Or place the loaves on a greased or lined baking pan.) Cover with a towel and let rise 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 450 F.

7. Cut 3 to 4 1/4-inch deep slits into the top of each loaf. Carefully lift the loaves onto a mesh baguette baking pan if using. Avoid deflating them as much as possible.

8. Brush the tops of each loaf with the egg wash. (Leftover egg wash can be kept for a few days in the fridge. It can be used on other baking days or cooked as scrambled eggs.) Bake at 450 F for 20 minutes. Remove from the pan and cool on a wire rack.

One year ago: Arugula Pesto with Kalamata Olives

Two years ago: Sour Cream Drop Biscuits with Lemon and Thyme

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