Monday, February 15, 2010

Three-Seed Epi

A few weeks ago, my boyfriend and I hosted another couple, for wine and appetizers, and my boyfriend came home with a pain d'epi from the bakery. Pain d'Epi, a form of French baguette, takes its name from the French for wheat stalk, because that's what it resembles. I thought it was so adorable that I had to try making my own at home!

Start by dissolving one packet yeast (about 2 and 1/4 teaspoons) in 1 cup warm water (use a thermometer to verify that the temperature is between 100 and 110 degrees). Let stand 5 minutes.

Lightly spoon 2 and 3/4 cups bread flour into measuring cups, and level with a knife. Add the flour to the yeast mixture, along with 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1 and 1/4 teaspoons salt, stirring until a dough forms.

Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead for 8 minutes (punch the dough down with the heel of your palm, fold it in half, turn it a quarter turn and repeat!). You can add up to 1/4 cup more bread flour as needed so the dough doesn't stick to your hands; I only needed another tablespoon or so.

Place the dough in a large bowl coated with cooking spray, turning so the top of the dough is coated as well; cover and let rise for 45 minutes, ideally some place 85 degrees and free from drafts.

Punch the dough down and let it rest for 5 minutes, then shape it into a 21-inch rope. Place the rope on a baking sheet sprinkled with 1 teaspoon cornmeal (you can twist it to fit, if your baking sheet isn't long enough).

Here's where you'd stop if you were making a simple baguette! But to shape the "epi," make 14 diagonal cuts, going about three-quarters of the way through the dough, spaced about 1 and 1/2 inches apart. The original recipe said to do so with a pair of sharp scissors, but I used a small sharp knife instead. By the end you should have 14 triangular pieces. Now, pull those pieces away from the center on alternating sides. This step was very hard for me to visualize, so I sort of pulled my triangles apart from one another at random. I ended up with something that looked sort of like a wheat stalk, but not quite right. Here's a photo of professional pain d'epi, which might be a useful visual guide:

I think what I did wrong was to make my diagonal slits in different directions; in retrospect, I probably should have made them all in the same direction... But oh well, it's the taste that counts, not looks! So moving on, make the equivalent of 1 egg white using egg replacer, and brush over the top of the baguette (you'll have extra liquid, which you can just discard).

In a small bowl, combine 1 teaspoon poppy seeds, 1 teaspoon sesame seeds, and 1/2 tsp. mustard seeds; sprinkle evenly over the top of the baguette. Cover and let rise for 30 minutes.

Uncover and bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes, then cool on a wire rack. Rip apart the triangles at the perforations, into 14 servings of 130 calories each. When we were hosting, my boyfriend served the pain d'epi with slices of sausage, cheese and mustard - there's no need to miss out as a vegan! Try any of the vegan sausages on the market, and nosh on them with slices of this bread.

yeast packets $1.39
bread flour $8.69

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The Vegan Pantry

  • Vegan yogurt - Whole Soy
  • Vegan milk - Silk
  • Vegan Feta - Sunergia
  • Vegan Cheese - Galaxy Foods
  • Vegan Eggs - Ener-G
  • Vegan Butter - Earth Balance