French bread flour (or use 80% bread flour to 20% cake flour)
Instant dry yeast
Malt powder (if you have some)
a small amount
Make the dough. Mix all the dough ingredients together. If doing this in a bread machine, knead for 10 to 12 minutes. When the dough has been kneaded, leave to rise for 1 hour at 20 to 25°C.
Deflate the dough, re-form into a ball, and leave to rise again for another hour.
After the second rising, divide the dough into 4 portions. Fold up each portion and round off. If you form it into an oval shape it's easier to work with later. Cover with plastic and let rest for 15 minutes.
Stretch out to about the same length as a slice of bacon. Top with a slice of bacon and some coarsely ground black pepper, roll up and pinch the seam securely closed.
Lay a pair of kitchen scissors almost flat against the bread and snip the dough. Make the cuts quite deep so that dough spreads out a bit.
Push the cut dough to the left. With the next cut, push the cut dough to the right. If you do this alternately, it will look like a wheat stalk.
Leave for the final rising at room temperature (20 to 25°C) for 50 to 70 minutes. Mist with water, and bake in a preheated 210°C oven for 15 minutes or so.
It's delicious with grainy mustard in the dough too.
Christmas variation: (2 breads) Roll 1/2 of the dough out very very long and wrap with 2 slices of bacon. Connect the ends to make a circle, and put on a baking sheet.
Cut with scissors. It looks nicer if the cuts are all facing outwards.
The rising and baking steps are the same as with the straight ones. Put on some decorations, and you have an edible Christmas wreath!
Story Behind this Recipe
I wanted to eat a pain d'epi with black pepper in it, so I used French bread dough to make it.
If you prefer a thick puffy pain d'epi, divide the dough into 3 portions. If you divide it into 4 as specified in this recipe, you'll have thin, crispy bread.