Earthy Whole Wheat Baguettes

I am not a baker. I can cook, but baking is just a niche I have not perfected. That does not mean I don't keep attempting it though. With the weather turning cooler, I find myself thinking of the unique smells of fall in my kitchen like pumpkin, apple, cinnamon and so on.

The other day I turned 38. It was cloudy and wet outside and I craved some earthy, wholesome bread like the kind you find at Panera, but without the Panera price. Well, I think I have found the perfect bread to make at home. And guess what? It's perfect for us "not baker" types. It is so easy, I think my 8-year old could make it. So here it is for you. It went wonderful with a bowl of vegetable soup. Our family has also been eating this bread toasted with a little bit of strawberry jam.

Earthy Whole Wheat Baguettes
(adapted from Good Life Eats)

3 cups of water (110 degrees)
1 1/2 T of active yeast
1 1/2 T of sea salt
2 1/2 cups of whole wheat flour (I like King Arthur flours best when baking)
4 cups of unbleached bread flour

In a very large mixing bowl, combine the water, yeast and salt. Stir and set aside.

Mix the two flours together in a medium size mixing bowl with a wire whisk and carefully pour into water/yeast mixture. The mixture will get very thick and "gunky" (that's the only word I know to describe it!), but hang in there. Just mix with a wooden spoon until it is completely mixed. If it is too hard to mix with spoon, lightly wet your hands and mix. It may still look "gunky", but that is A-ok ~ it will still turn out great... trust me!

Cover with a damp hand towel and pop it in your microwave (don't turn it on!) for 2-3 hours. I don't like things on my counter and I don't like waiting so when I don't see the bowl, I'm not as inpatient.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Place a stone baking sheet on middle rack and an empty broiler pan on lower rack.

Next, with floured hands, separate the dough into three equal balls. Lightly flour your working surface and shape each ball into separate loaves, approximately 2 inches wide and 14 inches long. Now let them rest for 25 minutes.

After they have rested, using a pastry brush, paint each loaf's surface with water and then score each loaf with three diagonal slashes using a serrated knife.

Carefully slide all three loaves onto the hot baking stone. Pour 1 cup of water into the broiler pan. Bake for 20-25 minutes. Cool before eating... if you can wait!


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