Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Wheat Batard

For Thanksgiving, I plan on making a traditional bread stuffing for a turkey that the local free-range fowl farm has set aside for me. (Another thing to give thanks for.) Chewy, whole wheat bread stands up nicely in stuffing, but grocery stores here in my suburb-of-the-suburbs sell only White 'N Fluffy commercial loaves. One whiff of moisture and these breads flatten like hosts served up at Sunday Communion.

So I made my own.

This recipe is similar to my Whole Wheat Sourdough Raisin Pecan Bread, but for the lack of nuts and dried fruit. I also replace some of the whole wheat flour with all-purpose flour, preventing me from calling this a "Whole Wheat Batard".

Day 1 - Evening


¼ cup whole wheat flour
¼ cup all-purpose flour
1/16 tsp. instant yeast
pinch ascorbic acid (optional)
¼ cup water, room temperature

1    Stir together the dry ingredients. Add the water and mix gently to create a wet dough. Cover with plastic wrap and a clean kitchen towel. Let sit in an undisturbed area of your kitchen overnight or no longer than 12 hours.

Note: Don't substitute bread flour, high-protein flour, or high-gluten flour for the all-purpose flour. The starter will turn gummy and elastic, making further additions difficult to incorporate.

Whole wheat flour contains a small amount of naturally occurring oil. Depending on how old your flour is and how you store it (whole wheat flour is best stored in the refrigerator), these residual oils may have begun to oxidize. The process of making starter, incubating flour granules with warm water over a number of days, can accelerate oxidation. White flour, which has virtually all oil removed, will keep rancidation to a minimum.

Use room temperature water, not hot water. You want to discourage fast growth. Slow fermentation permits growth of wild yeast and bacteria that lend a distinct tanginess to the final product. Filtered water is preferred to tap water which, depending on where you live, may contain small amounts of chlorine or other chemicals that retard growth.


Day 2 - Morning


¼ cup all-purpose flour
¼ cup water

1    Add the water to the flour to create a paste. Combine this paste with your overnight starter and stir gently but completely. Cover with plastic wrap and a clean kitchen towel. Let sit in an undisturbed area of your kitchen no longer than 12 hours.

Note: The picture above is what the starter looked like before I gave it its first feeding today.


Day 2 - Evening


¼ cup whole wheat flour
2 tablespoons water, or as needed

1    Sprinkle flour over starter and stir gently but completely. If it becomes too gummy or difficult to stir, add 1 or 2 tablespoons of water. Cover with plastic wrap and a clean kitchen towel. Let sit in an undisturbed area of your kitchen overnight or no longer than 12 hours.


Day 3 - Morning


All of your starter
1 ¼ cup whole wheat flour
¼ cup all-purpose flour
1 ½ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. instant yeast
pinch ascorbic acid (optional)
¼ cup plus 2 tbls. water

1    Stir together flours, salt, yeast, and ascorbic acid if using.

Note: Below is my bubbling starter after a 2½ day growth.

2    Add the starter to the flour mixture and stir lightly. Incorporate the water in thirds, two tablespoons at a time, stirring after each addition until you form a shaggy mass. Cover with plastic wrap and a kitchen towel and let sit (autolyse) in an undisturbed area of your kitchen for 30 minutes.

Note: You may need more or less water depending on the humidity in your kitchen and the dryness of your flour. The dough before kneading should feel firm but moist enough to relax.

3    Sprinkle flour onto a work surface. Place dough on work surface and sprinkle lightly with flour. Knead approximately 8 minutes, sprinkling with flour if it becomes too sticky to handle. (You may need to start kneading with a bench scraper since the dough will be sticky at first.) Place dough into a clean bowl, cover with plastic wrap and a kitchen towel, and let rise in an undisturbed area of your kitchen for 2 hours (less if the temperature of the room is greater than 75° F).

Note: Below is my dough before its first rise, and after 2 hours. It has almost doubled in size.

4    Gently deflate dough. Fold over onto itself 2 or 3 times. Cover, and let rise for another hour.

5    Gently deflate dough and scoop out onto a flour-dusted surface. Slice dough into two equal pieces. Knead each piece about 10-15 times to reestablish a ball. Cover the dough lightly with plastic wrap and let sit for 15 minutes to relax the gluten. Then form each ball into the desired shape. For the batards shown, I roll the balls on the counter until they are about 8 inches long by 2 inches wide.

6    Place the shaped loaves on cookie sheets covered with parchment paper, dust lightly with flour, and allow to rise for another hour.

7    Place baking stone or tiles onto middle shelf of oven and preheat to 490° F for at least one hour.

8    Right before you're ready to bake, place a pan of boiling water on the floor of the oven, underneath the baking stone. I use a old 9-inch cast iron fry pan for this. The steam from the pan imitates a commercial oven. You'll have to remember to remove the pan after 5 minutes though or your loaf won't brown properly.

9    Cut away parchment under one of the loaves, leaving about an inch of paper around the dough. Place the loaf with parchment onto a peel or paddle. Using a razor blade, lame, or very sharp knife, make three slashes about ¼ inch deep into the top of the dough. Using a spray bottle, mist the loaf with clean water. Slide the loaf onto the preheated stone. Bake for 5 minutes, remove the pan of water, reduce the oven temperature to 450° F, and bake for an additional 12 to 16 minutes until the outside is very dark (or until the loaf gives off a hollow-sounding "thud" when tapped.) Remove from the oven with a peel. Cool on a rack or other non-solid surface. Repeat for second loaf.

Note: Don't forget to bring the oven back up to 490° F. before baking the second loaf.

If your oven has hot spots (mine does), turn the loaf halfway through baking.


1 comment:

Ivan of the Ozarks said...

This is a very nice recipe but may I say as an avid bread maker - never ever use All Purpose Flour in a yeast bread. At the very least you should use Bread Flour, even better, if you can find it you should have on had some Hi-gluten flour. I recommend matching any low gluten flours in your recipe with an equal amount of Hi-gluten flour to get the best texture. If you can find wheat gluten this will also fix up your flour, if you want to use all whole wheat adding a box (small box 6-8 oz) to your recipe will give you a great loaf. Don't skimp, get some gluten in there!