22 May 2013

Pain Grenoblois - A Random Recipe

Baking bread is one of the most satisfying of baking ventures and it seems that Dom, our dear friend over at Belleau Kitchen, has tapped his inner baker and become a blogging bread fiend! Well, he's in good company here! In fact, when he suggested that May's Random Recipe challenge was to collect one's bread baking books and randomly choose a bread recipe to make and post, I was pretty excited! I only hoped that I would choose a bread recipe that was new and untried! Score!

This French recipe comes from Paris Boulangerie Patisserie, Linda Dannenberg's excellent book of recipes from the most famous and well-established bakeries in Paris. On opening the book to a random page, I  was greeted by a raisin and walnut bread that comes from the countryside in the southeastern region of France. This bread had me doing something I have never done before in my bread baking. It calls for making a yeast starter dough called Pâte Viennoise and letting it rise for 45 minutes. Then, another dough is made that incorporates the starter dough in during the kneading process. This white wheat flour starter combines with the second rye and wheat flour mixture to make a striated dough, rich with butter, raisins, currants, walnuts, and a bit more sugar than usual ... really a beautiful combination!

Basile Kamir of Moulin de la Vierge, the baker who contributed this recipe to Dannenberg's book, stipulates that true Pain Grenoblois is made in rings and baked in a steamy oven until the outer crust is dark brown and crunchy. The bread is moist and has an almost stringy, stretchy crumb - if that makes sense. It has been a real challenge to keep from breaking into the first loaf right out of the oven, I'll tell you! Letting it cool a good bit before cutting will keep it from collapsing too much, though!

Super crunchy chewy crust, very moist interior, softly sweet, perfect when gently warmed and slathered with butter  ... and I am thinking that if there is enough left in the next day or two, I will be making a bread pudding with some pears and a few chunks of  the last of the bread! A keeper recipe, but a lot of work ... this has taken most of the morning and part of the afternoon to make ... good thing it's laundry day too! Staying in all day ... two birds; one stone.

This post is being sent to Dom for his end of the month share of all the breads that have been baked for this month's Random Recipe baking challenge! Get on over and check out the rest of the loaves when he posts the Random Recipe Round-Up!

Pain Grenoblois
a Basile Kamir recipe

Pâte Viennoise Starter Ingredients:

1 tsp. active dry yeast
¾ c. warm water ( 109 ° F )
2 ⅔ c. all purpose flour
1 tsp. salt
2 tbsp. sugar
4 tsp. powdered milk
2 tbsp. unsalted butter, cool from the fridge, cut into small cubes

Making the Starter:

  1. Combine the warm water and the yeast, stirring to combine and set aside for 5 minutes.
  2. Whisk together the dry ingredients in a small bowl. Add half the yeast mixture and mix to make a shaggy start to the dough.
  3. Add the other half of the yeast mixture and stir well.
  4. Begin mixing in the chunks of cool butter with your fingers, kneading to combine the butter completely into the dough ball. Knead, knead, knead for about 5 minutes or until the dough is silky and firm.
  5. Place back in the mixing bowl and cover with a damp towel.
  6. Set aside in a warm place for 45 minutes.

Dough Ingredients:

1 ¼ c. warm water ( 109 ° F )
2 tbsp. active dry yeast ( yes, tablespoons)
3 c. all purpose flour
⅔ c. rye flour
¼ c. sugar
Pinch salt
1 c. chopped walnuts
1 c. chopped raisins (or a combination of raisins and currants)

Making the Bread Dough:

  1. Whisk the warm water and yeast together in a mixing cup and set aside for 10 minutes.
  2. Whisk the rest of the ingredients together in a big mixing bowl.
  3. Make a deep well in the center of the dry ingredients. Place the Pâte Viennoise in the well.
  4. Drizzle the yeast mixture around the outer edges of the dry ingredients.
  5. Poke your thumbs into the center of the central starter dough ball and start mashing the dampened dry mixture into the dough ball. Keep smashing things together until you need to begin kneading to incorporate the rest.
  6. Turn the dough and remaining dry mixture onto a large cool kneading surface and knead the dough until you can rub the sticky dough off your fingers and knead that into the dough. The dough will begin to settle to a smooth, heavy, dough ball. Total kneading time is about 8-10 minutes.
  7. Wash out the large mixing bowl, grease it well, and place the dough in the bowl, turning to coat well. Cover and place in a warm cozy spot for 1 ½ hours or until the dough has doubled up.
  8. Gently press the dough down and divide in half.
  9. Roll the dough into a long log and bring the ends together to form a ring of bread about 10 inches in diameter.
  10. Place on a greased cookie sheet, cover and set aside. Form up the other dough ball and place that on another greased cookie sheet.
  11. Place the covered sheets in a warm spot for about 30 minutes.
  12. Ready the oven by placing a small pan of water on the floor of the oven. Preheat the oven to 400 ° F for 20 minutes.
  13. When the oven is good and steamy, place the bread on racks toward the lower section of the oven and bake for 15 minutes.
  14. After 15 minutes, switch the sheets' positions so that the one on top is now on the bottom rack and vice versa.
  15. Continue baking for another 15 to 20 minutes – until the bread is deep brown and sounds hollow when rapped with your knuckle.
  16. Cool the bread on cooling racks. Store tightly wrapped in foil for up to 3 days or freeze while the bread is still slightly warm.


  1. This is perfect.
    Looks so yummy!

  2. Suddenly I'm extremely and unaccountably hungry!

  3. the way you describe bread baking is so entirely spot on!... every loaf is like a journey and this one, something that i've never heard of before, looks gorgeous doesn't it? Love your heart cut-out bread board too, so pretty. A wonderful random recipes and entry and a fab blog post - really made my day x

  4. This woud make my home smell wonderful from top to bottom.

  5. That sounds absolutely delightful. I'd love a piece of that - ideally while in the south of France. Oh well, I can dream.

  6. I wish I had the time to even try to make the breads you do Susan. I can almost taste this delicious bread.

  7. This looks and sounds sensational, love the fruit and nuts. yummy.


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