Whole wheat baguette
The baguette was a labor of love, the story of a tin of whole wheat flour and the power of yeast. It started in Blue Willow Bakery the other morning, a coffee in my fist and the smell of fresh baked bread rising out from the tiny kitchen. I counted my quarters onto the counter, and tucked a loaf under my arm alongside the paper.
At home, it was gone within hours. It had been a while since I'd made bread, I realized. The large, heavy loaves of winter seemed somehow too much, and so I'd abandoned the practice all together. But the delight on our faces as we broke bread over supper, dipped its crevasses into a broth of mussels and tomatoes, made me realize I'd been wrong. Bread wasn't out of season; I simply had to change my recipe.
I started searching online: whole wheat baguette, all whole wheat baguette, 100 percent whole wheat. No luck. It appeared whole wheat was not cut out for baguettes, with their crusty tendencies and tender insides.
But whole wheat was all I had, and so I forged ahead anyways. The worst that could happen, I imagined, is that the loaf would go flat and the toast dense. There had been more defeating disasters, I was sure.
And so I simply did what the recipes all said not to. I used 3 cups of solid whole wheat, kneaded a little longer to stretch the low gluten, and left the dough to rise a bit more neglected than usual. When I returned, it had doubled in size and rolled out like satin. Perhaps it was the hard, red wheat flour, but the dough had come together just fine.
I shaped it into an elongated rectangle and rolled it into a log, pinching the ends, slashing the top, and sprinkling the top with a bit of water and more flour. Into the oven at 400, it emerged 15 minutes later a delicate golden brown, complete with thick crust and the tender flesh of a hot baguette.
The only trouble is, it's already gone.
100% WHOLE WHEAT BAGUETTE
Makes 2 loaves
In a large bowl, combine 1 and 1/4 cup very warm water, 2 and 3/4 teaspoons yeast, and 2 tablespoons sugar. Let stand 5 minutes. Stir in 1 and 1/2 cups whole wheat flour and 1 teaspoon salt vigorously, until smooth. Add another 1 and 1/2 cups whole wheat flour to form a dough; adding more if it feels too sticky. Knead for 10-15 minutes or until elastic on a lightly floured surface.
Preheat oven to 400, and leave dough in a warm place in a well-greased bowl until doubled in size. Punch down and separate into 2 balls. Roll each into a 5 by 12 inch rectangle, then roll along the long side to form a long, thin log. Pinch ends shut, slash diagonally several times with a sharp knife, and arrange loaves on a greased baking sheet sprinkled with cornmeal. Brush loaves with water and sprinkle with a bit of flour. Let rise again and bake for 15-10 minutes, or until golden brown.