Whole Wheat French Bread

Two whole wheat sweetbread loaves made in a French bread mold.

© 2011 by KV5R — Rev. Feb. 27, 2011.

This one is my attempt to make my favorite bread (whole-wheat with honey and almonds) to have a more artisan-style shape, crust, and crumb. It was almost entirely successful.

As stated in the previous article, I went back to using cup measures instead of weights. I didn’t make any notes this time, so the recipe below is from memory. Adjust as needed.

Note that later I went back to measuring by weight. I discovered that the pros are right—if you want to make consistently good bread, you have to weigh things! When the weight of your liquid ingredients is 63% of the weight of your flour, it’ll almost always be just right. The exact ratio will depend on your flour, but will be between about 61 and 65 percent water by weight.

Recipe

2  cups whole flour (Montana Hard-Red, medium fine grind)
4  cups bread flour (King Arthur)
2  cups warm water
1  tsp  celery salt
1  tsp  basil
1  tsp  coriander
1  cup  fresh ground almonds
4  Tbs  honey
4  tsp  rapid-rise yeast
For the top: squeeze or spray margarine and sprinkle poppy seeds.

Mix yeast and honey in warm water; let stand 10 minutes.
Mix dry ingredients.
Mix all. Add flour, if needed, to reach desired dough consistency.
Knead for 10 minutes. Form into a ball and place into proofing bowl.
Cover with plastic and let rise 2 hours.
Punch down. Divide in two. Form into logs to fit your French bread mold.
Let rise again ’til the dough nearly runs over mold.
Bake uncovered at 450°F for 45-50 minutes. Remove and cool.
Makes two 1½ lb. French loaves (16 inches long).
Hand-break into chunks or slice. Eat!

An op-note here: I always store my breads in a plastic bag in the refrigerator. No spoilage that way, and moisture content remains so it doesn’t dry out. Cut or break pieces as needed, and microwave them for about 20-25 seconds. They’ll taste just like fresh-baked, even days later.

Photos

Only got three photos this time. As you can see, I got distracted and let the second rise run right over the mold; then during baking I was turning it around and collapsed a big hole in one of them. Oh well, better luck next time! It was still delicious, and that’s what counts.

Risen dough handing over the edges of the mold.
The second rise got a little carried away… For the tops, I brushed on margatine,
then sprinkled on poppy seeds, then added another swirl of margarine.

After baking. Crust is a little too dark (toasted).
A bit overdone, and a bit damaged, but not ruined.

Broken bread showing a nice crumb.
There’s the interior view.

Notes

  1. Using a good bit of honey and rapid-rise yeast really made it puff up!
  2. Keeping the second knead handling to a minimum make for a coarser crumb. Maybe next time I’ll try doing the first rise in the mold, eliminating the punch-down and second rise. (Don’t do it! The wet dough weeps through the holes, making it severely stick!)
  3. The crust was perfect, though a bit over-toasted, which just added to the flavors.
  4. The perforated mold works well, but is difficult to handle when hot, as in turning.

So there you have it! Whole wheat French loaves, with honey and almonds! Please stay tuned for more bread baking adventures in the coming weeks.

Thanks for stopping by! —kv5r

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