The Pioneer Woman Tasty Kitchen
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1/2 and 1/2 Whole Wheat French Bread

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Level: Intermediate

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Description

Crusty on the outside, tender on the inside, you won’t believe it has whole wheat flour.

Ingredients

  • 2 Tablespoons Instant Yeast
  • 2-½ cups Warm Water, divided
  • 2 Tablespoons White Granulated Sugar
  • 2 teaspoons Salt
  • 3 cups Whole Wheat Flour (hard White Winter Wheat Flour Recommended)
  • 3 cups -4cups All-purpose Or Bread Flour, Divided
  • 1 whole Egg, Beaten
  • Cooking Spray
  • Corn Meal For Sprinkling On Baking Sheet
  • Spray Bottle Filled With Water

Preparation

Dissolve yeast in 1 cup warm water with a pinch of sugar. Allow to activate for 5-10 minutes or until foamy.

While the yeast is activating, in the mixing bowl of a stand mixer add the remaining 1 1/2 cups water, sugar, salt, whole wheat flour and 1/2 cup white flour. Add the activated yeast/water mixture. With the paddle attachment in place, turn mixer to low to blend all of the ingredients.

Increase the speed of the mixer to medium and mix the ingredients for about 15 minutes. Turn mixer off and allow sponge ingredients to rest for another 10 minutes.

The sponge will begin to rise. Turn mixer back on for a few seconds, just long enough to deflate the sponge. Turn mixer off again and allow the sponge to rise for another 15 minutes.

Change the mixing attachment to the dough hook. Add 1 cup of white flour to the sponge and mix on a low speed to allow the flour to be incorporated.

Add another 1 cup white flour a little at a time and allow the mixer to incorporate it into the other ingredients.

In 1/2 cup increments, with the mixer running, add enough of the remaining flour to form a medium soft dough. Allow the mixer to knead the dough until smooth and elastic. If your mixer cannot handle the dough, then turn the dough out onto a floured counter top and knead until smooth and elastic. Be careful not to incorporate too much flour. You do not want the dough to be stiff.

Gather dough into a ball. Place in an oiled or greased bowl; turn over once so that lightly oiled surface of dough is facing up. Cover with a damp cloth or plastic wrap and place in a warm place to rise until almost double in bulk. I like to put the bowl of dough in a barely warmed oven with the oven light turned on for additional warmth. To warm the oven, I turn it on its lowest setting and let it heat up for a couple of minutes, then turn it off before placing the dough inside the oven to rise.

Punch dough down and turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead the dough a few times to release the large gas bubbles formed by the yeast. Divide the dough in half, form each half into a ball, cover with the damp cloth, and allow to rest for about 5 minutes.

While dough is resting, prep the baking sheet. Spray the baking sheet with cooking spray or use a very light coating of oil. Sprinkle baking sheet with cornmeal. Set aside.

Working with one dough ball at a time, with your hands (or a rolling pin if you need it) push the dough ball into a rectangle about 10 inches long and 8 inches wide. This does not have to be exact. The rectangle can be a bit larger or a bit smaller; exact size isn’t critical to the outcome.

Starting at one end, roll the dough up into a loaf. Pinch the seam closed. To help form nice ends on the rolled up dough, fold a few inches of each end towards the seam and pinch closed.

Turn the loaf over with the seam side down. With both hands, gently give the loaf a more elongated and uniform shape as needed by squeezing and pulling gently. The loaf should be about 10-inches long. Repeat with remaining ball of dough.

Place the shaped loaves onto the the prepared baking pan. Leave space on all sides of the loaves for rising. Cover with damp towel and allow to rise for about 45 minutes or until nearly double in bulk.

Preheat oven to 375ºF. While the oven is heating, mix together the egg white and 2 teaspoons water. Set aside.

With a sharp knife, preferably a bread knife, make 4 or 5 slashes 1/4- to 1/2-inch deep diagonally across each loaf. Use a light hand with the cutting so that the loaves will not collapse. Brush each loaf with the egg white/water mixture.

Place baking pan in the oven, then using the spray bottle of water quickly, but thoroughly spray the bottom and sides of the hot oven with water. This will make steam which will help to crisp the crust. Close the oven door and bake the bread for 20 minutes.

Open the oven door and spray the bottom and sides of the hot oven with water once again. Work quickly so that not too much heat will be lost. Bake for another 15 minutes or until the bread has a medium golden brown color and sounds hollow when tapped.

Remove from oven and place the loaves on a cooling rack to cool. Store any leftover bread in foil.

Note: If you live in a humid climate, this recipe may take 7+ cups of flour (the total amount of whole wheat flour and white all-purpose flour combined). I live in a dry climate, so my amounts of flour are less than they would be in a humid climate.

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