French sticks

 

I was in Whole Foods earlier this week, when I happened to walk by their cheese counter and noticed a sale on triple cream brie. Whole Foods is one of those stores I go into, intending only to buy a select few items but always walk out with an armful of goodies. How do they do that? I had my shopping list and I was just minding my own business. Anyway, I ♥ cheese, especially triple cream brie! As I headed home, I realized that I had forgotten to pick up some bread to go with it. Oops. See what happened was, I walked by the breads but heard some other goodies calling out to me. I also love their banana chocolate chip muffins but brie and a banana chocolate chip muffin don’t exactly go together, you know what I mean? What to do? Well, I have some compressed yeast and flour so let’s make some French sticks!

 

This is an incredibly easy recipe but I wanted to give it a try because it used malt syrup. This was another ingredient I wasn’t familiar with but it turns out that malt syrup is a sweetener. So in this recipe, it acts as a food source for the yeast. It also speeds up the gluten development and gives the loaves a nice golden color. As for the taste, it’s hard to describe the actual flavor of the syrup except that it’s sweet and has a “malty” flavor to it.

You’re wondering, how does it affect the final taste of the French sticks? I didn’t notice any taste difference or malty flavor but then again my bread was slathered in brie. The actual bread itself was soft and pillowy on the inside with a slightly thin crunchy crust on the outside. I recommend eating it while it’s still warm. Words can’t even describe what this bread is like when it’s fresh out of the oven. Pure heaven!

While there’s nothing better than fresh bread, if you’re eating it the next day and the crust is a bit soft, you could put it back into an oven heated to 350F for a few minutes. And if you have an upcoming dinner party, you could also cut up the sticks into thin bite sized pieces, dry them and make crisp bread for hors d’oeuvres or salad croutons. Enjoy!

Question of the day: Does anyone else leave Whole Foods with a bunch of unplanned purchases? What are some of your favorite items there?

 

French Sticks
(Yield: 2 loaves)

Ingredients:

  • 15 g compressed yeast
  • 225 g warm water
  • 375 g bread flour
  • 7 g salt
  • 5 g malt syrup
  • cornmeal, for dusting and sprinkling on the loaves
  • water, to brush onto the loaves

Directions:

  • Put the warm water and yeast into a mixing bowl and mix with a dough hook for about a minute. The yeast does not have to be completely dissolved before you move onto the next step.
  • Add the flour, malt and salt to the mixture and mix on low speed until a dough begins to come together.
  • Continue to mix the dough with the dough hook for about 6-7 minutes. The dough should pull away from the sides of the bowl close to the end.
  • Lightly dust your work surface with flour and remove the dough from the mixing bowl. Round the dough into a ball, dust lightly with flour and place under a piece of plastic wrap to rest for about 40 minutes.
  • Punch down the dough, cover with plastic wrap and rest for another 15 minutes. You don’t need to reshape the dough into a ball again.
  • Punch down the dough and divide the dough into 2 pieces, each weighing 300 g. Round the two dough pieces into balls, cover with plastic wrap and allow the dough to rest for 10 minutes.
  • Preheat your oven to 100F with a water bath inside. This is done so you can proof your bread.
  • Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and lightly sprinkle with cornmeal.
  • Flatten the dough balls and gently roll into an oval loaf shape. Make sure to roll the ends of the loaf a little bit more to give the loaf a pointed look. Place the loaves onto the cookie sheet.
  • Using a pastry brush dipped in water, brush the loaves lightly with water. Use a paring knife to cut 4-5 diagonal slices on the top of each loaf. Sprinkle the loaves with cornmeal.
  • Place the loaves into an oven preheated to 100F to proof for 10-15 minutes. After proofing, the loaves should have grown in size and be puffy.
  • Preheat oven to 400F.
  • Bake for approximately 20 minutes or until the loaves are a golden color and have an internal temperature of 190F.
  • Cool loaves slightly before slicing and serving.

Recipe notes: Malt syrup is available at most well-stocked grocery and bulk food stores. You can also find it online at retailers such as King Arthur’s Flour or Amazon. But if you can’t find it, you can easily substitute it for honey or even molasses. However, using molasses will result in loaves with a darker coloring.

(Source: George Brown Baking Arts: Art of Breads)

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6 thoughts on “French sticks

  1. love the story. who hasn’t forgotten what they went to the grocery store first. way to save the day. making your own bread is so much better because it is so fresh.

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