We were going to have a big ole pot of mussels and clams cooked in spiced beer (details on that here), and needed some bread to soak up of those very tasty juices.
French bread, I thought, but, made a wee, tiny bit better by using whole wheat flour added to the unbleached all purpose (whole wheat flour on its own will not make for a good loaf of bread, you need the all purpose for it to work – I usually go about 25% whole wheat and it works a treat. Rye flour is also a nice option).
Fortunately, I was given this handy-dandy French bread pan for Christmas (this shot shows it loaded with two loaves of regular French bread ready for the oven) which really does seem to help the bread come out with that chewy, crispity crust. I should also note that you don’t have to make two loaves at a time; for today’s post, this recipe will yield one loaf, more than enough for the two of us and our pot o’ shellfish. If you want to make two loaves, use the amounts listed here, again stirring in 25% whole wheat (or rye) flour for a higher fiber loaf.
•2-1/4 tsp yeast
•2 tsp honey
•1 cup warm (110º) water
•3/4 tsp salt
•1/4 tsp black pepper
•2 cups flour
•1/2 cup whole wheat flour
•1 egg yolk mixed with 1 tbsp water
Pour the warm water over the yeast and honey in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook. Give it a stir with a fork, then set aside to rest for ten or fifteen minutes, until the mixture foamy.
Add the flour to the foamed yeast mixture, turn the mixer on low, and mix until the dough starts to come together.
Increase the speed to medium and continue to mix until the dough has cleaned the sides of the mixing bowl and climbed up the dough hook. Depending on the weather, you may need to add additional flour to get the dough to come together. If you do, add all purpose flour by the tablespoonful and allow it to be worked in before adding more.
Cover with plastic wrap and set aside in a warm spot for 90 minutes or so, until the dough has doubled in size.
Dough risen, and you have the time to deal with it; punch the dough down, heat your oven to 400º, and place your pizza stone (if you have one) on an upper rack.
Turn the risen and punched down dough out onto a well floured flat surface.
Cover the dough with a clean kitchen towel and set aside to rise for an hour. Yes, you want your oven on and, ideally that pizza stone in there, absorbing all that heat, while your loaf is on its final rise.
Roll the risen loaf in cornmeal, brush with the egg and water mixture, then make angled slices about one inch apart across the top of the loaf and place in the bread pan.
Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, until the bread is nicely browned with a hard crust.
Remove from the oven and cool on a rack.
Ermmm, you may want to tear off an end while the bread is warm, slather it with butter, and try it.
To check for quality, of course!
QC approved, we thoroughly enjoyed ours with the mussels and clams.