Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Pain Francais in Honor of Julia Child

This month, the Bread Baking Babes and Buddies are honoring Julia Child who would’ve been 100 years old on August 15th. In memory of this remarkable woman, the BBBs have been baking Julia’s version of Pain Français (French Bread) from her book Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume Two.

Julia Child was very detailed and thorough which I appreciate being a detail-oriented person myself.  Her process for making this bread is presented in 20 pages of meticulous directions. Even though I appreciate Julia’s thoroughness, I was delighted that Susan of Wild Yeast simplified the process for us by summarizing the formula and condensing the instructions. 



This French Bread takes about 7 –10 hours from start-to-finish so dedicating that amount of time will take a little bit of planning, but it’s definitely worth the effort. I followed Susan’s summary for the most part, but deviated on the kneading process and the bulk fermentation because as usual, I was trying to cram too much into my day off and ran out of time. I’m sure you never do that, right!


Pain Français (French Bread)

From: Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume Two by Julia Childs


  • 3 baguettes or batards or boules
  • Or 6 short loaves (ficelles)
  • Or 12 rolls (petits pains)


I followed the ingredients and mixing instructions from Julia Child’s French Bread — Recipe Summary by Susan at Wild Yeast.

I deviated from the instructions at the kneading phase. Instead of kneading the dough for 5 – 10 minutes, I used the method from Tartine Bread by Chad Robertson. With this method, you do a series of turns in the bowl during the bulk fermentation to develop the dough structure.

Refer to my Tartine Country Bread post for a step-by-step photo tutorial on this method.

For the first 3 hours, I turned the dough every 45 minutes.  Then I deflated the dough and let it rise for another 1 1/2 hours.

Dough after the initial mixing.
Dough after a couple of hours and several turns.
The deflated dough after 3 hours.
Dough after an additional 1 1/2 hours.  The structure is really developed now.
Dough divided into 3 pieces and resting on the counter before shaping.
Shape the balls into baguettes and place on Baker’s couche to proof.
I placed the loaves in the refrigerator at this point because I had somewhere I was supposed to be.
The next day, I took the loaves out of the refrigerator, let them warm up to room temperature, and gently transferred them to a parchment-lined baking sheet.
I scored the loaves using my Scaritech lame.
The loaves are covered with plastic and resting while the oven is preheating.
Baked loaves cooling on a wire rack.
Baked loaves ready to slice & serve.


I sliced one of my loaves lengthwise because I wanted to see how it would taste as sandwich bread.



I made egg salad sandwiches and served them with homemade kosher pickles. It was a pretty chewy sandwich but good nonetheless.



I think this French Bread might be better suited as an accompaniment to some delicious soup.  I’ll try that next!  


Happy Baking!


Friday, 24 August 2012

Italian Spelt Loaves

If you enjoy Italian Bread, but want to give it a slightly different flair, try this Italian Spelt Bread. Instead of using regular bread flour, the biga and final dough are made with a mixture of white and whole grain Spelt flour.



The method for making this bread is similar to the method we used for the Italian Bread in the BBA Challenge; however, this bread is made with Spelt instead of regular bread flour and the percentage of biga to dough is lower than the one we made in the BBA Challenge. The biga performs best when you make it the day ahead and place it in the refrigerator to ferment overnight.

This is a pretty healthy bread, and the dough is very versatile. You can make loaves, rounds, torpedo rolls, pizza, focaccia, bruschetta, calzones, and breadsticks using this basic dough.


Italian Spelt Loaves

Adapted from: Spelt Healthy! by Marsha Cosentino, M.A.

Making the All-Purpose Biga

This recipe makes about 2 cups (14 oz/375 g) of biga.


  • 1/4 tsp instant yeast
  • 1 cup lukewarm water (divided 3/4, 1/4)
  • 1 1/2 cups white spelt flour (divided 1, 1/2) 
  • 1 cup whole grain spelt flour (I used home-milled spelt flour)


  • In a large bowl, stir together 1 cup of white spelt flour, 1 cup of whole grain spelt flour and the yeast.
  • Pour in 3/4 cup of water and mix well.
  • The biga will be thick to begin with (Photo #2) but will soften and become lively while it sits on the counter.
  • Cover it with plastic wrap and let it stand for 4 hours at room temperature (75 degrees F). The biga is pretty active after 4 hours. (photo #3 below)
  • Stir in the additional 1/2 cup of White Spelt flour and 1/4 cup water.
  • Let the biga stand at room temperature for another hour or so until it becomes active and bubby.
  • Use the biga at the end of the 5-6 hour proof or refrigerate it overnight to use the next day. If you refrigerate it overnight, just be sure to give it time to warm up to room temperature to get the fermentation activity going again. 
  • I placed mine in the refrigerator overnight. Photo #4 below shows what it looked like after warming up to room temperature the next day.


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Making the All-Purpose Italian Dough

Makes: 2 loaves


  • 2 cups biga
  • 1 1/2 tsp instant yeast 
  • 1 1/2 cups water (divided 1 1/4, 1/4)
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup whole grain spelt flour
  • 3 1/4 to 4 cups white spelt flour (this will vary with the type of white spelt flour you use. I used a scant 3 1/4 cups)


  • Place the biga in a large mixing bowl and pour in 1 1/4 cups of water. Mix vigorously.
  • In a separate bowl, stir together the whole grain flour, 2 cups of white spelt flour and the yeast.  
  • Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix to form a rough dough.
  • Add the salt to the remaining 1/4 cup of water and stir then add it to the bowl.
  • Gradually add 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 cups of the white flour and beat or stir with a Danish Dough whisk until it forms a soft dough. Adjust the consistency if necessary by adding White Spelt flour by the tablespoon.
  • Scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix until the dough forms a ball.  The dough will be sticky, soft and very moist at this point.
  • Turn the dough out onto a surface lightly floured with White Spelt flour.  Cover it and let it rest 10 minutes
  • Form the dough into a loose ball, knead it briefly by hand until it is elastic but still slightly tacky.
  • Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl. Cover and let the dough rise in a draft-free place at cool room temperature (70 – 75 degrees F) for about 40 – 50 minutes. 
  • Check the dough and if an impression remains when a finger is pressed gently into it, then it is ready.
  • Ease the dough from the sides of the bowl and fold it over the top using a plastic spatula. 
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  • Gently deflate the dough using your fist, but don’t press down hard or punch it. You don’t want to expel the gases.  It should be springy at this stage.
  • Remove the dough from the bowl and divide it into two pieces.
  • Shape the pieces into rough balls and let them rest seam side up, covered with plastic wrap on the counter for 10 minutes before shaping.
  • Shape the balls into torpedo-shaped rolls and place onto parchment paper. 
  • For assistance in shaping the rolls, refer to the shaping section in the Five Grain Sourdough with Rye Sourdough post.
  • Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. with a baking stone on the middle rack and a steam pan underneath.
  • Sprinkle the tops of the loaves lightly with White Spelt flour and cover loosely with plastic wrap. I sprayed the loaves with olive oil instead of using more flour.
  • Let the loaves rise until doubled in size.  This should take about 15 – 20 minutes.
  • During the last 5 minutes of the rise, score the loaves using a lame or serrated knife.  Make 2” long, 1/4” deep slashes along the tops of the rolls.
  • When the oven is ready, slide the rolls (and the parchment paper) onto the preheated baking stone and pour hot water into the steam pan.
  • Spritz the walls of the oven several times during the first 3 minutes of baking.
  • Bake the loaves for 15 – 20 minutes or until they reach a deep golden brown color.
  • The loaves should sound hollow when thumped on the bottom.
  • Remove the loaves to a wire rack to cool completely before slicing and serving.
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Slice and enjoy!  These loaves taste really good dipped in olive oil and herbs.  I also enjoyed them with jam. They do tend to get dry fairly quickly since they don’t contain any fat in them.



Happy Baking!


Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Hokkaido Milk Bread using the Tangzhong method

Every once in a while I just want to bake some delicious and fluffy white bread. I missed my chance last month so I’m making up for it this month.

Hokkaido Milk Bread was the BOM (Bread of the Month) for July for the Artisan Bread Bakers FB Group. I’m late to the party, but believe me, this bread is worth the wait. It looked so good and the method for making it intrigued me so I just had to make it. I was not disappointed and you won’t be either.



This bread is as good or better than it looks. When I tasted it, I was instantly reminded of a delicious flavor and fluffy texture that I had enjoyed before. I searched my brain to try and figure out just where I had tasted that flavor and texture before. Then it dawned on me…Brioche! That’s what this bread reminds me of. However, I think this bread might actually be better than Brioche. Simply because the fluffy, delicious and rich taste of this bread comes from the Tangzhong and not loads of butter like Brioche. I love Brioche mind you, but all that butter, yikes!   I’ve also seen comments by some of the other bakers that this reminds them of challah.  I can see that as well.




Hokkaido Milk Bread using the Tangzhong method

This recipe is adapted from Kirbie’s Cravings…adapted from Christine’s recipes. You’ll want to check out both sites for rolling and shaping techniques and ideas for adding extra ingredients.  Just Google the term tangzhong. You’ll find some interesting information about the tangzhong method. I spent awhile on several sites just learning about the method.  It’s pretty neat!

Equipment needed:

  • Stand mixer or a bread machine.  I used my bread machine.  The dough is really sticky so I didn’t try the by hand method with this one.
  • A digital scale comes in handy although the cup measurements are provided
  • Instant read thermometer so you can tell when the roux has reached 149 degrees.  I actually used a candy thermometer for this part.



Makes: Enough for 2 loaves

  • 50 g/1/3 cup bread flour
  • 1 cup Water

This amount makes enough for 2 loaves.  Just reduce the amount to 25g/~1/4 cup bread flour and 1/2 cup water if you only want to make one loaf.  You can keep the roux in the refrigerator for a couple of days.  However, if it turns gray, then throw it out.

Mix the flour and water together until there aren’t any lumps. Place in a sauce pan and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until it reaches 149 degrees and then remove it from the heat. If you don’t have a thermometer, remove the mixture when it is thick and the spoon begins to make trails.



Scrape the mixture into a clean bowl and allow it to cool completely. When it cools, cover it with plastic wrap and place it in the refrigerator. Let it sit overnight.



Hokkaido Milk Bread:

Makes: 1 loaf


  • 350 g/2½ C bread flour
  • 55g/3T + 2 tsp. caster/superfine/baker’s sugar (if you only have regular sugar, just grind it to a finer texture in a food processor. Do not use powdered sugar.*
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. instant yeast
  • 1T + 1 tsp. milk powder (optional)
  • 1 large egg
  • ½ cup milk
  • 120 g of the tangzhong (1/2 of the above recipe)
  • 3T softened room temperature unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 1 egg for egg wash

* I made one loaf using raw sugar that I ground to a fine powder in my coffee grinder. For the 2nd loaf, I used regular granulated white sugar and it worked fine.



Add the ingredients to your bread machine in the order listed by the manufacturer.  For my machine, all of the wet ingredients are added first.



Then add the dry ingredients and make a well in the flour and add the yeast.



Use the dough setting on your bread machine.  You’ll only use it for mixing/kneading and the first rise.  The dough process takes about 2 1/2 hours in my machine.



Remove the dough from the bread pan to a floured surface. 



Gently deflate the dough and divide it into 4 equal pieces. My dough balls were about 285g each. Form them into balls and place them seam side up on the floured surface. Cover the balls with plastic wrap and let them rest for about 15 minutes.



Using a rolling pin, take each piece and roll it out into a long oval shape.



Fold the shorter sides of the oval into the middle and overlap the ends like an envelope.  Press gently to seal the seams



Flip the dough over and roll it out into an oval again. 



Flip the dough back over and roll each oval into a roll/cylinder, from one end to the other.



Continue this process with the rest of the balls. You can use the rolling pin or your hands for this part. I started out using the rolling pin, then decided it was easier just to flatten out the dough and shape it by hand.  You’ll need a little extra flour for this part, but don’t use too much or the bread will be dry.  You want a nice and fluffy bread.  It’s worth it!



Arrange the rolls seam side down in an oiled 9” x 5” loaf pan.



Allow the loaf to proof until it reaches about 3/4 of the height of the bread pan.  This takes about 30 minutes or so.  Mine actually rose a little higher than 3/4 of the height of the pan.



Brush the loaf with the egg wash and bake in a pre-heated oven at 350 degrees for 25 to 35 minutes. If the top of the loaf starts to brown too quick, tent the loaf with foil while it finishes baking.



Remove the loaf from the pan and cool completely on a wire rack before serving.


This bread has been YeastSpotted. Please visit Wild Yeast to view all of the lovely breads in the roundup.


Slice and enjoy!  Actually, you can just break this bread apart at the seams.  It would make great pull apart rolls.  That’s how I ate it anyway.  I confess, I ate the whole loaf. Not in one sitting, but it was so good.  It keeps really well.



My sons love fluffy white bread so I’m sending the 2nd loaf to my youngest son who is away at college. I’ll have to make another loaf to send to my oldest son. 

Thanks to Karen of Karen’s Kitchen Stories for sharing this recipe with the Artisan Bread Bakers FB group.  It’s awesome!  I’m definitely going to try this method again especially with rolls.




Happy Baking!


Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Sprouted Einkorn Bread with no flour

A few weeks ago, a visitor to my blog commented on the sprouted wheat bread with no flour post. She wanted to know if I had experimented with and had any success with sprouted bread lately.  Well, now that you mention it, it has been awhile since I’ve made bread using only sprouted wheat. So you know what that means… it’s time to experiment again. For this experiment, I used the ancient grain Einkorn rather than hard red spring wheat.  

I really enjoy making sprouted wheat bread. The sprouting process is fun and it provides a host of nutritious benefits. Sprouting the grain produces vitamin C and increases the vitamin B and Carotene content, and neutralizes phytic acid, which is a substance that inhibits the absorption of calcium and a number of other minerals. Complex sugars are also broken down and enzymes which aid in digestion are produced during the germination. All good things in my book.



I’ve made this Sprouted Einkorn Bread with no flour two times so far. The first time, I let the grains soak for about 12 hours, then rinsed and drained them and let them sprout overnight at room temperature. The next morning, I rinsed and drained them again and put them in the refrigerator for a day before I baked the bread. In this heat, that turned out to be a bit too long to let the sprouts grow, particularly since they continue to grow a bit in the refrigerator. I also used the wrong size loaf pan for the first attempt. I used a 9” x 5” loaf pan, but should’ve used the smaller 8” x 4” size.

Here is a photo of the first attempt.  I took photos of the sprouting process for the first bread, but somehow I lost them. I do have photos of the 2nd attempt. This bread was a bit dense, but had great flavor.  It tasted good with Spicy Peach Butter and with cheese. 



The key to success with this bread is to only let the grains sprout until the tiny sprouts are just barely beginning to show.  So for the second attempt, I only let the grains soak about 16 hours.  The sprouts were just barely peeking out.  After the 16 hours, I drained the grains thoroughly and put them in the refrigerator overnight.  I started the process of making the loaf the next day. 

This is the process I used for the 2nd loaf.


Sprouted Einkorn Bread

Makes: One Loaf

Adapted from The Laurel's Kitchen Bread Book: A Guide to Whole Grain Breakmaking by Laurel Robertson.


  • 3 cups (575 g) Einkorn berries (makes about 6 cups sprouted)
  • 1 teaspoon (3.5 g) active dry yeast
  • 2 tablespoons (30 ml) warm water
  • 2 teaspoons (11 g) salt
  • 3 scant tablespoons (40 ml) honey



Step 1: Sprouting the Einkorn Berries

Tip: Only sprout the berries until the sprout is just beginning to show and the berry is tender.  In hot weather, it doesn’t take very long.

Begin by rinsing the grains and covering them with tepid water.  Let them soak for about 12 to 18 hours at room temperature.



Here are the Einkorn grains after soaking for 16 hours.  The sprout is just barely peeking out.



This is a close up of the tiny sprouts.  Aren’t they cute!  The grain is soft and pliable at this point. Place the sprouted grains in the refrigerator until they are cool.  You can leave them in there a day or two, but keep in mind that the sprouts will continue to grow in the refrigerator so don’t leave them in there too long or you’ll end up with a sticky and dense bread that doesn’t bake through all the way.



Step 2: Mixing the dough

Dissolve the yeast in the warm water and let it sit for about 10 minutes until foamy.  Then add the sprouts, the dissolved yeast, honey and salt and process in a food processor fitted with a metal blade, not the dough blade. You can do this part in 2 or 3 batches, depending on the size/power of your food processor.  I just got a more powerful food processor so it was able to handle the whole batch at one time.



Process until the sprouted grains form a ball.  This will take about a minute.  Then scrape down the sides of the bowl, and process two minutes more.  If you’re doing this in several batches, divide the ingredients by thirds and process each batch, then knead the dough balls together.



Step 3: Bulk Fermentation

Form the dough into a ball and place in a lightly greased bowl.  Cover and place it in a warm draft-free place.  Let the dough proof for about an hour and a half.



Gently poke the center of the dough with a wet finger.  If the hole doesn’t fill in, then the dough is ready.  If is does fill in, let it proof a little while longer.

Note: At this point, I ran out of time so I placed the dough in the refrigerator overnight.



Next Day:

I took the dough out of the refrigerator and let it sit on the counter for a couple of hours to warm up to room temperature. 

Continue Step 3: Bulk Fermentation:

Press the dough flat and form it again into a smooth ball.  Place the dough ball in a greased bowl and allow it to rise again.  This second rise shouldn’t take as long as the first rise since the dough will be warmer.



Step 4: Shaping the Dough:

Using water to prevent your hands from sticking, gently spread out the dough into a rough rectangle.



Shape the dough into a smooth loaf and place in a greased 8” x 4” loaf pan.  This time I used the appropriate size loaf pan.



Step 5: Proofing the Dough

Let it rise about 30 minutes in a warm, draft-free place (such as your oven with the light turned off). 



Step 6: Baking the Loaf

Bake the loaf for about an hour at 350 degrees F.  If your bread rises really well, it may not take that long.  It didn’t take mine quite an hour to bake through.


Step 7: Cooling the Loaf

Remove the loaf from the oven to a wire rack and let it cool completely before slicing.



Step 8: Slice and Enjoy!

This bread rose better than the first attempt, but I think it would’ve risen better if I hadn’t put the dough in the refrigerator overnight. It was dense, but not as dense as the first one.  It had a great flavor.  I gave this one to my taste tester to enjoy.



I hope you’ll try this bread and let me know how it works out for you.  I plan to try it again sometime without placing the dough in the refrigerator overnight to see the difference.  It should rise a little bit better. 

Happy Baking!