Post by Alison Hein.
Short, dreary January days are perfectly suited to bread baking. Homemade bread is easier to make than you may think, especially if you own a food processor. All that’s required is a little flour and yeast, and a little larger commitment of time and patience.
Allocate several hours for the process, and don’t be dismayed if your first attempt is less than perfect – you will get better with practice. And, once you bite into your first fresh-from-the-oven steamy slice of homemade bread, there’s no going back. Three lovely. wheaty baguettes will scent your home with bakery aromas, and fill your heart with great accomplishment.
Try a cozy winter meal that calls for no more than a thick slice of sweet, salty homemade bread beside a piping hot seasonal soup. Better yet, slather a warm hunk of baguette with creamery butter, maybe some strawberry jam too. Pour a cup of dark-roast coffee, and reward yourself with the perfect cure for those short, dreary January days – breakfast in bed!
2 cups tepid water
1 tablespoon (2 packets) dry yeast
1 tablespoon oil
1 tablespoon honey
1 ½ teaspoons salt
1 cup whole wheat flour
4 cups white flour
1 tablespoon cornmeal
Oil for rising
Flour for kneading, shaping and dusting loaves
Add water to large food processor, or large bowl. Gently sprinkle yeast on top to cover surface. Set aside until yeast begins to activate, about 10 minutes.
Add oil, honey, salt and wheat flour to food processor or bowl. Gently pulse on food processor dough setting or stir until mixed in. Add white flour, about a cup at a time, until mixed in. If using food processor, gently pulse until dough is compressed and begins to pull away from side of bowl. Be careful not to over mix or dough will become tough. If making bread by hand, turn out onto floured board and knead gently for about five minutes. Add about ½ teaspoon oil to large bowl. Place dough in bowl. Turn and flip so oiled side faces up. Cover with light tea towel and set in warm, non-drafty place to rise. Let dough rise for about one hour, until doubled in size.
Punch down dough. Turn onto floured board and shape into 3 equal-sized baguettes. Sprinkle large baking tray with cornmeal. Place loaves on tray, cover with light tea towel and set in warm, non-drafty place to rise. Let loaves rise for about one hour, until doubled in size.
Preheat oven to 425° about 15 minutes before dough is finished rising. Lightly sprinkle loaves with flour (use a sifter or sieve). Carefully make a few diagonal slashes on each loaf, using a razor blade or very sharp knife (I keep a craft knife on hand for this purpose).
Place loaves in oven and bake 25 to 30 minutes until browned. Cool for at least 30 minutes before slicing.
Makes 3 baguettes.