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French Mixed-Grain Bread



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La Belle Cuisine


French Mixed-Grain Bread

How to Bake: Complete Guide to
Perfect Cakes, Cookies, Pies, Tarts,
Breads, Pizzas, Muffins...

by Nick Malgieri, 1995, HarperCollins

1/4 cup warm tap water (about
110 degrees [F] )
1/2 teaspoon active dry yeast
1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour

1 1/2 cups warm tap water
(110 degrees [F] )
1 teaspoon active dry yeast
3 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose
flour, plus extra for dusting
1/3 cup medium or whole-grain
rye flour
1/3 cup whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons salt
All the sponge, above

Two small cookie sheets or a large jelly-roll pan dusted with cornmeal

Three hefty baguettes or two large round or ring-shaped loaves

“This is an adaptation of a bread called ‘pain à l’ancienne’ (old-fashioned
bread) from the book ‘Pains Spéciaux et Décorés’ (Special and Decorated
Breads) (Éditions St.-Honoré) by Alain Couet and Erich Kayser.

1. To make the sponge, place the water in a mixing bowl and whisk in
the yeast. Stir in the flour smoothly. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap
and allow the sponge to rise at room temperature for about 8 hours,
or overnight, until tripled in volume. If the temperature is warm, allow
the sponge to rise until triples, then refrigerate for the remainder of
the 8 hours.
2. To mix the dough, combine the remaining ingredients in a mixing bowl
and stir in the sponge. Knead by hand to form a smooth, elastic, and
slightly sticky dough, about 5 minutes.
To mix the dough in a food processor, place the remaining ingredients
and sponge in a work bowl fitted with the metal blade. Pulse repeatedly
until the dough forms a ball. Let the dough rest for 5 minutes, then let
the machine run continuously for 20 seconds.
To mix the dough in a heavy-duty mixer, place the remaining ingredients
and sponge in the bowl of a mixer fitted with the dough hook. Mix on
low speed to form a smooth, elastic, and slightly sticky dough, about 5 minutes.
3. Transfer the dough to an oiled bowl (you may need the help of a scraper) and turn the dough over so the top is oiled. Cover the bowl with plastic
wrap and allow the dough to rise at room temperature until the dough is
doubled, about 1 hour.
4. To shape the loaves, turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface
and press the dough to deflate. Divide it into 3 pieces and shape one
at a time. Press a piece of dough into a square, then roll it up tightly.
Rotate the cylinder of dough 90 degrees and roll up again from the
short end. Arrange the dough, seam side down, and cover with plastic
or a towel to rest for 5 minutes. Repeat with the remaining pieces
of dough.
5. Elongate each piece of dough by rolling the middle of the loaf out-
ward under the palms of your hands. Point the ends slightly. Place
the loaves on pans (two on one pan and one loaf n the other), seam
side down, and dust each loaf lightly with flour. Use a tablespoon at
the most per loaf. Cover with plastic or a towel and allow to rise
until doubled.
6. About 30 minutes before you intend to bake the loaves, set racks at
middle and lowest levels of the oven and preheat to 500 degrees
[F]. Set a pan on the lowest rack to absorb some of the excess
bottom heat and keep the bottoms of the loaves from burning.
7. Use a razor blade or the point of a very sharp knife to make 3 to 4
diagonal slashes across each loaf. Immediately place the loaves in
the oven and lower the temperature to 450 degrees [F].
8. After the loaves have baked for 20 minutes and are completely risen,
lower the temperature to 350 degrees and continue baking for 20 to
30 minutes longer, until the bread is well risen and a dark golden color.
It should reach an internal temperature of about 210 degrees [F].
9. Remove the loaves from the oven and cool on a rack.

Serving: Slice the bread about 1/2 inch thick with a sharp serrated knife.

Storage:  On the day it is baked, keep the bread loosely covered at
room temperature. For longer storage, wrap in plastic and freeze
for up to 1 month.

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