Since 1992, Zingerman’s Bakehouse has been a fixture in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
- Water, room temperature 1 ½ cups plus 1 Tbsp / 365 g
- Levain ½ cup / 70 g
- Chestnut flour ½ cup / 70 g
- Stone-ground hard red wheat flour 2 ¾ cups / 385 g
- Sea salt 1 ½ tsp 9 g
1. Place the water in a mixing bowl. Tear the levain into small pieces and add to the water. Add the chestnut flour and half of the wheat flour and beat with a wooden spoon until the dough is a smooth batter. Add the remaining wheat flour and the salt. Mix until the dough is rough and shaggy.
2. Turn the dough out of the bowl onto a clean, unfloured work surface, scraping any bits of dough from the bowl. Knead the dough for 6 to 7 minutes. The dough will be sticky at this point.
3. Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with plastic. Ferment for 30 minutes.
4. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and fold: shape the dough into a rectangle. From right to left, fold the dough as you would a letter. Now do the same vertically, by folding the top third toward the bottom and the bottom over the top. Finally, flip the "package" of dough back over (seam side down). Return the dough to the bowl and cover. Ferment for another 30 minutes. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and fold for a second time. Return to the bowl and cover. Ferment for 1 hour. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and fold it a third time. Return to the bowl and cover. Ferment for 1 hour.
5. With a bench scraper, divide the dough into four equal pieces. Gently form the pieces of dough into loose rounds. Place them on a lightly floured work surface and cover with plastic. Let rest for 30 minutes.
6. After 30 minutes, uncover the dough and lightly dust the tops with flour. Roll each piece into the final baguette shape, approximately 8 in [20 cm] in length. Place the baguettes in a linen couche dusted with wheat flour, separated by pleats. Cover with plastic. Allow to rest for 45 minutes. Use the touch test to see if the dough is ready for the oven: If you press your finger gently into your loaf and then lift it off, and the indentation immediately pushes back out, the loaf requires more time before it's ready to be baked.
7. Forty-five minutes before baking, preheat the oven with a baking stone and cast iron skillet (for creating steam) to 450°F [230°C]. The wheat flour we use (the same as in our True North Bread) is made of hard red wheat that is stone ground and then sifted so it retains the germ and some of the bran. These small parts of the grain add to the deliciousness of the bread. To approximate this flour at home, use 4 parts all-purpose flour and 1 part well-sifted whole wheat flour. Use a super fine sifter to remove the larger bran particles from the whole wheat flour.
8. Uncover and, using a transfer peel or baguette board, place the baguettes side by side on a flour-dusted peel. Lightly dust the top surface of the baguettes with flour. With a razor blade or sharp knife, make two over-lapping cuts, each 3 1⁄2 in [9 cm] long, the first starting about 1 in [2.5 cm] from the top end of the baguette and the second ending about 1 in [2.5 cm] from the bottom of the baguette.
9. Place the loaves on the baking stone and add steam to the oven. Keep covered for 10 minutes.
10. Uncover and bake for an additional 15 to 20 minutes, or until the baguettes are nicely browned and sound hollow when tapped on the bottom. It is important for them to get dark brown in color. Remove from the oven and cool completely on a wire rack.
About this recipe
“In late 2014 we started baking our Chestnut Baguette, made with chestnut flour from western Michigan and Michigan-grown hard red spring wheat from northern Michigan. This is an example of a Bakehouse bread that was more than 10 years in the making. We first played around with chestnut flour in 2002 or 2003. At the time, we had no real local source for chestnut flour and a lot less experience with breads made with a dough as wet as the chestnut bread is. It landed in a pile of ideas that reside on the left side of my desk.
The American chestnut tree was devastated by a fungal blight in the early 20th century. Michigan has since become one of the leading states in its revival. To help in this eff ort, Rodger Bowser, Zingerman’s Delicatessen partner, began working with Michigan chestnut growers to promote the fruits of their labor. In the summer of 2014, we got a sample of the chestnut flour and decided to try it in a baguette with some of our other Michigan wheat flour. We fell in love with the flavor of the bread (especially the dark crust) and the beautiful color of the crumb. The addition of the chestnut flour gives the crumb a slight purple color and rich depth of flavor.
It’s become my favorite bread to choose when I’m asked to bring an appetizer to a dinner. I grab a Chestnut Baguette and run next door to Zingerman’s Creamery and have them pick out a really ripe Manchester cheese for me. The combination is a real crowd pleaser.” – Frank Carollo
Reprinted from Zingerman’s Bakehouse by Amy Emberling and Frank Carollo with permission by Chronicle Books, 2017.