Stick a fork in me….I’m done.
And by “done”, I mean that I am DONE searching for a reliable bread recipe that is relatively easy, fuss-free, and above all—tasty. Because I found the recipe of my dreams from Jeff Hertzberg and Zoë François—authors of Artisan Bread in Five Minutes.
Their objective was wonderful really…..to create amazing home baked bread with only 5 minutes of “active preparation”. 5 Minutes and NO Kneading! The dough can also sit in your fridge for up to 2 weeks which means fresh baked bread whenever your heart desires :)
Their master recipe dough can be formed into any shape that you like. I usually lean towards a boule or baguette as it’s the quickest to shape. But when I want the maximum amount of “crunch” and “crust”, I shape a Pain d’Epi—or “wheat stalk” bread. I love how you can just tear off a section of the Pain d’Epi and essentially have your own little mini baguette. Wonderfully crunchy texture on the outside and soft-spongy interior. DEEEEE-luxe.
My Bread Baking Life will never be the same :)
Pain d’Epi (Wheat Stalk Bread)
Adapted from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day
Master Dough Ingredients:
6½ Cups All Purpose Flour
1½ Tablespoons Active Yeast
1½ Tablespoons Kosher Salt
3¼ Cups Warm Water
Additional Flour (for dusting)
1 Cup Hot Water (for baking)
Add the yeast to the water. Allow it to activate and get foamy—about 10 minutes. In a large bowl, combine the flour and salt together. Add the yeast/water mixture and stir it until all of the flour is incorporated into the dough. The dough will be really shaggy and rough. You can also do this step in a stand mixer but be sure to only “mix” until the ingredients have combined. You are not looking to knead the dough.
Transfer dough to a large container (at least a 5 quart) that has been greased with olive oil. Put the lid on the container but do not seal it completely as you need to allow some of the gases to escape during the proofing process. Allow the dough to sit at room temperature for about 2 hours to rise. At this point, the dough should be really bubbly and would have filled the majority of your container. Do not punch down the dough—it will deflate the air bubbles. Seal the lid completely and refrigerate. The dough can be used after a few hours or can be stored for up to two weeks.
When you are ready to make your bread, uncover your container and dust the surface of the dough with a little flour. Pull out desired loaf amount and cut off with floured kitchen shears. Lightly flour the dough and form a ball by folding the dough over on itself several times. Cover the dough and allow to rest for about 30 minutes.
If using a baking stone, place it in the middle rack of the oven and place an empty broiler pan on the rack directly below it. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
Once rested, take the dough and gently shape it into an oval. Fold the dough in thirds (like a letter) and bring in one side and gently press it into the center. Bring up the other side and pinch the seem closed. Stretch the dough very gently into a log. You don’t want to compress the air out of the dough. If it resists your pulling on it then let it rest for just a moment to relax the glutens. Continue to work the dough until you have a nice thin baguette. It is okay if you let the dough rest a few minutes and then come back to it to give it a gently stretch.
Cover a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Sprinkle corn meal in a low row and place your baguette on top of it. With your kitchen scissors cut the dough from one end at a 45 degree angle until you are about a 1/4″ from the cutting board. Being careful not to cut all the way through the dough. Lay the piece you’ve cut over to one side. Continue to cut in this fashion until you’ve reached the other end.
Once completed, slide the formed Pan d’Epi onto the baking stone in the preheated oven. If you’re not using one, place the entire baking sheet on the middle rack. Put a cup of hot water into the broiler tray below the baking stone/baking sheet and quickly shut the door. Bake for about 30 or until it is nicely browned. Allow to cool completely on racks. If you cut into it too early, you may get a tough crust and a gummy interior.
**You can find step-by-step photos on how to form a Pain d’Epi here.