Monday, October 5, 2009

Pain Complet (Whole Wheat French Bread)

Since we switched to a mostly vegetable and whole grain diet, I've been making whole wheat pita bread instead of my favorite, Pain Complet. But then I realized yesterday that the two breads contain exactly the same ingredients. Duh!

The French bread recipe I use simply calls for a sustained rising period, as with most yeast breads.

In contrast, pitas are ready to bake after only 30 minutes of rising time (don't forget to flip 'em).

And of course pitas bake more quickly because they're thin and small! Plus the oven temperature is 500°F. HOT!

So, here is a photo of my Pain Complet; the dough has been kneaded and is resting in a lightly oiled glass bowl, covered with plastic wrap (a damp towel will work as well).



2 cups Whole Wheat Flour

3 cups All Purpose White Flour

1/2 tsp. Salt

1 tbsp. Dry Active Yeast

2 cups Water, approximately 110°F

1 tsp. Sugar

Olive Oil

Additional Flour as needed


In a large bowl, whisk together the flour and salt. Move the ingredients to the sides of the bowl, creating a large well in the middle.

Pour yeast and sugar into the well. Pour 2 cups of warm water over the yeast. Sprinkle a bit of flour over top. Wait for bubbles to appear in the yeast, approximately 10 minutes.

With a wooden spoon or your hands, gradually incorporate the flour into liquid. This pre-kneading should result in a relatively firm ball of dough. If it's too sticky, add a little more flour.

Remove dough from the bowl and place on a lightly floured surface. Knead it by pushing your palms into and then turning it one quarter. Continue kneading for 7-10 minutes, or until the bread is supple and tacky but not sticking to the surface.

Place the bread in a lightly floured bowl and cover with a damp dishcloth. Let it rise for about 2 hours (depends on the room temperature, you want it to be fairly warm). It should double in size.

Preheat oven to 400°F. Sprinkle a counter top or other surface with flour.

Prepare a baking pan by lightly oiling and flouring it, or bake on top of oiled parchment paper. I like to use a cookie sheet, brushed with olive oil and dusted with corn meal.

Remove dough and place on floured surface. Press it down once with your palms.

Reshape dough into a ball or braid, whatever shape suits your mood. Place dough on baking pan. Using a sharp knife, cut diagonal lines across the top of the bread.

Brush top of dough with olive oil. Place in oven and bake for 30 minutes (more or less, depending on how much you like it browned).

This one is perfectly toasty!

VoilĂ !

(It's a half recipe, by the way, and I shaped it into an artisan style loaf).

Yes, I still love my pita bread. But nothing -- NOTHING -- compares to the scent of a loaf of bread baking for half an hour, filling the whole house with homemade whole wheat bliss. I can still smell it today!

This recipe is based on my experimentation with ingredients and methods as outlined on the tres fantastique site,

1 comment:

Nikki said...

yum!!!! I just baked this bread and it is delicious! The wheat flour gives it a nice flavor; great recipe.