The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

épi de blé

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wally's picture

One of the things I love about baguettes is that with just a little manipulation once they are proofed, you can take the "stick" and create an array of dinner rolls that are barely linked: the épi de blé is the obvious example.  But recently, after watching a video series called Formes de pains that a TFL member posted (and I can't recall who, so please shout out if you're reading this), I became fascinated with another forme using a baguette shape as the starting point: la margueritte.

So I decided to have a little fun, and instead of just creating my usual two or three baguettes, to play with them a bit.

The impetus was my attempt to arrive at a dough weight that I am happy with for the home baguette; something, in my case, that is maximum 16 - 17 inches long.  I've always made 10oz (283.5 g) baguettes, but I'm not altogether pleased.  Their girth is more appropriate to a sub roll than a classic baguette.  So I decided to go with 8oz (227.8 g) dough weight to see if that produced a slightly more lithe baguette - a ficelle, actually.

Because I wanted to play with the dough more than anything else, I decided to make a straight baguette, essentially using Hamelman's French Bread recipe, but decreasing the hydration to 69% and doing a hand, rather than machine, mix.  Bulk fermentation was a little over 3 hours, and folding was done in the container though sets of 8 folds at a time.  The initial fold was done 10 minutes after mixing, and then 2 additional folds were made at hour intervals.  The dough was divided and preshaped into 3 pieces with a 25 minute bench rest.

When it came time to roll out the baguettes, it was evident that the amount of folding had really increased the elasticity of the dough, even though I had done nothing more than a quick minute-and-a-half mix of the ingredients by hand.  So it was necessary to roll them out partially, let them stand another 5 minutes and then finish the shaping.

They were couched for 1 1/2 hours while I preheated the oven to 500 F.

I decided to place them on parchment paper on my peel to make loading more easy, and to construct la margueritte right on the parchment.

As you can see from the picture below, it is essentially a baguette with the tips of each end cut off (they are used to make the little dough ball in the middle which acts like a glue for the structure).  It is then cut diagonally into 6 more or less equal pieces, and they are place in a circle with the dough ball in the center.  The video for this can be found here.  It's quite easy to make and once formed the top is lightly dusted with flour and then each 'ear' is lightly slashed.


The epi, below, is of course simply the baguette shape cut diagonally with scissors with pieces then turned right and then left (or left and then right) and also dusted with flour.  


The oven was presteamed using SylviaH's method, and hot water was added to my lava rocks when I loaded the bread and then twice more in the initial 2 minutes.  The bake was at 475 F for 21 minutes, and I rotated the breads after 10 minutes to get even browning (made easier by the parchment paper they baked on).

Both la margueritte and the epi create, in effect, separate dinner rolls that are lightly conjoined.  It just seems such a unique and conversation-generating way to present rolls that otherwise would be placed in a basket and just passed around a table.  The videos present several other interesting ways of manipulating baguettes to create new formes de pains.

The ficelle turned out nicely as well, with its grignes opening up well.  Crumb shots below as well.



Methinks a tomato-basil bisque would be a wonderful sop for these!



dmsnyder's picture

Traditional baguette, Dragon tail and Épi de Blé (left to right)

These baguettes were made with my San Joaquin Sourdough dough. I shaped a traditional baguette, an épi de blé (sheaf of wheat) and a dragon tail. Each was scaled to 248 g. They were baked with steam for 10 minutes at 460ºF conventional bake and in a dry oven for 10 minutes at 435ºF convection bake. My formula for San Joaquin Sourdough is available here: San Joaquin Sourdough, updated However, for those attempting these shapes for the first time, I recommend using a lower hydration dough such as Pat's (proth5). That formula can be found here: Baguette crumb - 65% hydration dough

Instructions for making an épi

1. Shape a baguette and proof it.

2. Transfer a baguette to your peel.

3. Starting at the left end (if you are right handed) or at the far end, if the baguette is oriented perpendicular to your body, make evenly spaced cuts along the baguette with a sharp scissors. The scissors should cut at about a 45º angle, almost but not completely through the loaf. With each cut, the cut part is rotated away from the long axis of the loaf, alternating right and left.

4. Load the épi onto your baking stone and bake as you would a regular baguette.

Instructions for making a dragon tail baguette

The dragon tail is made in the same way as the épi, except, rather than rotating the cut pieces, the tip of each is folded back over the body, away from the cut surface. Here is a photograph of Miyuki Togi, my SFBI instructor, forming a dragon tail:

SusanFNP has made an instructional video for shaping a Dragon Tail baguette which is highly recommended. Dragon Tail Baguette Shaping Video

Dragon tail, close-up 1

Dragon tail, close-up 2



Submitted to YeastSpotting

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