This recipe is an adaptation and amalgamation of many recipes within Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day, a book that has revolutionized bread baking for many people. Using rye and whole wheat flours might make the "grains" of the Pain d'Epi less well-defined, but you gain great flavor, texture and more fiber.
Make the dough well in advance so that you can crank out a batch of this on a weeknight. Your family will think you're a rock star.
Epic Pain d'Epi
(Makes 2 Pain d'Epi)
3 cups of lukwarm water
1 1/2 tablespoons granulated yeast
1 1/2 tablespoons salt
1 cup rye flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
4 1/2 all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons (or more) of salted butter
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 clove garlic, cracked
Whisk together water, yeast and salt in a lidded 5 quart bowl (Saran Wrap counts as a lid). Mix in the flours with a heavy spatula or wooden spoon. The dough will be softer than normal bread dough. Allow it to sit on your counter at room temperature until the dough rises and collapses (about 2 hours). Place the dough in the refrigerator for use later. This dough will only improve with age and can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 14 days.
When ready to use, dust the top of the dough with flour. Cut the dough inside the bowl in half and remove one-half of the dough, dusting it with more flour. With a rolling pin roll the dough into a rough rectangle about 3/4" thick. Roll the rectangle into a baguette. Place dough on a cookie sheet lined with a silicon baking mat. Cover and allow to rest for 30 minutes.
With a pair of sharp scissors, make a diagonal cut in your loaf, cutting nearly all the way through. After cutting, fold the roll you have formed to the side, alternating sides. You're making a wheat stalk!
Once out of the oven, allow to cool for a few minutes and brush again with the melted butter. Yes, we are guilding the lily here a bit, but you won't be putting any butter on it at the table, right? Right???