This is my 1st trial at Pain d’Epi (wheat stalk-shaped bread)– well the “wheat grains” look kinda funny but the bread was delicious. Because of all these cut edges, it is one of the most crusty bread out there. I made it to go with dinner and it was getting late, we couldn’t wait any longer for the bread to cool down completely– so we just broke apart each “grain” by hand when the bread was still quite warm. No worries about the damage of slicing a warm bread!
Pain d’Epi (Wheat Stalk-shaped bread) Recipe — original and full recipe from Artisan Breads in Five Minutes A Day (makes 1 loaf):
1 portion (1 lb) of basic artisan bread stored dough
flour for dusting
- On baking day take out chilled dough, sprinkle some flour on top of the dough then use one hand to pull up some dough (about size of grapefruit) while use the other hand to cut the dough with a pair of kitchen scissors. With dough in you hand, gently pull stretch the surface of the dough and tuck in the bottom, giving it a quarter turn as you pull/stretch. Dust a little more flour to prevent dough sticks to you hand. This shaping process should not take more than 1 minute.
- Place the dough a floured surface and gently stretch it to a oval. Fold the dough in thirds like a letter fold– bring in one side and press it to the center. Bring in the other and press it to the center. Pinch to seal the edge.
- Gently stretch the dough into a long thin log. If the dough resists your stretching then let it rest for a moment to relax the gluten. Don’t fight with the dough. Place shaped dough on pizza peel lined with parchment paper, rest uncovered at room temperature for 1.5 hours.
- 20 minutes before baking, place pizza stone on the middle rack and a shadow pan at the bottom rack. Then preheat oven temperature to 450°F.
- Dust the top of the dough with flour. Start with one end, use a pair of kitchen scissors quickly cut the dough at 45° angle to near bottom (take care not to cut the dough all the way through) and tilt the cut portion on one side. Make the same cut and tilt it on the other side. Continue cutting and tilting dough on alternative side until you reach the other end of the “stalk”.
- Quickly and carefully slide the dough with parchment paper onto the pizza stone. Pour 1 cup of water into the shadow pan then quickly close the oven door.
- Bake for 30 minutes until the bread is golden and tap hollow at the bottom of bread (I always bake the bread on stone for 29 minutes, remove water pan, and transfer the bread to the bottom rack and bake for 1 minute to crisp up the bottom crust). Remove bread from oven and cool immediately on a rack. Cool completely before slicing.