Thursday 28 April 2011

Yeast Bread Techniques, Lesson 2: Baguette aux Céréales - A Theme and Variations

Somewhere in central Paris, perhaps even at this moment, people are lining up outside a certain boulangerie to buy freshly-baked bread. (This applies to many, many bakeries, actually - but there is one in particular that I am thinking of.) Supposedly one can find the best bread by looking for the boulangeries with the longest queues, which seems logical enough; it also very well may be why I happened to end up at this one. You see, generally fresh bread comes out of the oven twice a day, and that is when people start gathering around the bakery doors: first in the morning, and then again in late afternoon before supper. This was mid-day, though, and the small bakery was packed as tightly as a New York subway train at rush hour (though it of course was far more calm and quiet, and smelled much better). I, being rather shorter than everyone clustering near the front counter, didn't get a terribly long look at the array of baked goods. One bread in particular did catch my eye, though - in contrast to the ubiquitous floury, golden baguettes, there were a few long loaves labelled "baguette aux céréales," which were wonderfully brown and flecked with all sorts of seeds and grains. Yum
With its slightly denser crumb and rich whole-grain flavour, this less-known traditional French bread can be made gluten-free with very satisfying and delicious results! Yet while "gluten-free" seems fairly well-understood in France, gluten-free bread is apparently uncommon. That's unfortunate, because I think this certainly measures up to its gluteny counterpart - go ahead, give it a try! This makes a small loaf; if you want to double the recipe I recommend forming two small loaves rather than one large one.

The recipe I've created is actually a variation on my "Whole Wheatless" bread in the first yeast baking lesson. If you haven't read that lesson, please do that first - it explains some of the techniques you will need to make this bread. If you have made that recipe, you will notice that this looks very similar;  some of the proportions are different, though, so read carefully. And without further ado:

Baguette aux Céréales

Step 1: The night before you will bake, combine in a mixing bowl:
1/4 c each brown rice flour, buckwheat flour, & chickpea flour
2 T teff grains (not teff flour)
1 tsp yeast
140 mL water

In a separate small bowl or cup, measure: 
2 T millet grains 

and add just enough water to cover. Let the flour mixture (called the poolish) and the millet soak for 12-16 hours. (The millet grains need to absorb water, but you want to keep them separate from the yeast for now.)

Step 2: Combine in a bowl and blend well:
1 1/4 c tapioca starch
2 T sweet rice flour
1 T + 1/2 tsp psyllium
1/4 tsp Pomona's pure citrus pectin (see note on my Ingredients page)
3/4 tsp sea salt
2 tsp sugar
1 1/2 tsp yeast

Combine in a small dish:
1 T certified GF rolled oats, such as Bob's Red Mill (set aside additional 2 tsp for crust)
1 tsp flaxseed (set aside additional 1 tsp for crust)
2 tsp sunflower seeds (set aside additional 1 tsp for crust)
1/2 tsp poppyseeds (set aside additional 1 tsp for crust)

You will also need:
Water (up to 80 mL)
2 tsp grapeseed oil or other light oil (plus a little more for brushing crust)
2-3 tsp buckwheat honey or other dark honey (plus a little more for brushing crust)
3/4 tsp double-acting baking powder
Parchment paper, a baguette pan or baking stone, another oven-safe pan or baking dish, & a few ice cubes (those last two items are not absolutely essential, but very helpful. It will make sense in a minute, trust me!)

Step 3: Work the flour mixture from Step 2 into the poolish from Step 1, first with a soft spatula and then knead by hand. You will need up to 80 mL extra water, but add it gradually as you go - remember, you can always add a little more water if you need to, but you can't take water out if you add too much!
Do not be alarmed if the poolish looks like dijon mustard!

Once all the flour is incorporated, knead in the seed/oat mixture from Step 2 and the soaked millet from Step 1, then knead in the 2 tsp grapeseed oil. Cover the bowl and set it in a warm place to allow the dough to double, probably about 2 hours.

The dough will be smooth and somewhat stretchy.
Step 4: Once the dough has risen to approximately double, knead in the honey (3 tsp will make the bread just slightly sweet). Now take a look at the dough:
See how the dough is a little crumbly and stiff, sort of like
cookie dough? That means it needs a tiny bit more water.
Add water 1-2 teaspoons at a time, kneading it in well.
After working in a couple of extra teaspoons of water,
the dough is smooth and stretchy again.
Learn to recognise the difference between the smooth dough and the slightly dry dough. Small differences like this can have a big impact on your bread! Now press the dough into a flat rectangle on a piece of parchment, sprinkle with the baking powder, and roll up as demonstrated in the previous lesson. Brush with honey & oil and sprinkle on the extra seeds.
A lot of the seed mixture will end up scattered around,
rather than on, the bread. That's ok...
Just gently press the seeds on top to make sure they stick,
and roll the loaf so more seeds stick to the sides.
Now set the bread in the baguette pan, with the parchment still underneath it. (Trim away any extra parchment.) Use a wet knife to cut a single slit down the length of the loaf. Cover the loaf with plastic wrap and let rise for at least an hour (in the meantime, preheat the oven to 220ºC/425ºF).
Keep the knife wet for a clean cut.

When the loaf has risen, place a few ice cubes in a small baking dish and place this on the bottom rack of the oven. Let the oven get nice and steamy for 10 minutes before putting the bread in the oven. (The steam helps form a nice crisp crust!)

Put the bread on the middle rack of the oven and immediately turn down the temperature to 205ºC/400ºF. Bake for at least an hour, until the loaf is nicely browned. Let cool for about 3 hours before cutting. 

Fresh from the oven!


  1. Hi, I just posted a long comment on your Chouquettes post. Then I started surfing through your site, and I'm very impressed with these bread recipes. I will definitely try one or more. I have made a lot of bread in my gf career, and a lot of it has been pretty good if not great, and some of it has been hideously bad. I'm always searching for new GF bread recipes. I love the flavors that arise from letting the sponge develop at least overnight, but have been too busy recently to take the time. Now I think I'll make the time. I especially like the idea of malting buckwheat. I have discovered a love of grinding my own buckwheat flour too. So, I'm glad the ratio rally got me to stop by and discover your site. The great thing is that there is so much more information about living/cooking GF than there was when I was diagnosed more than ten years ago. Thanks for applying your knowledge of chemistry to making wonderful bread!


  2. Thanks!

    I think everyone who is gluten-free is all too familiar with "hideously bad" bread - in fact, one of the factors that got me interested in food chemistry was my determination to find bread that tasted like bread! I hope you have good results with these recipes.

  3. Wonderful recipe! It turned out absolutely amazing - no one would know this was GF! The crust ... brought back memories of what a sensory experience a real baguette is! Thank you :)