Today, we’re boldly going to a world where boring old pain d’epi bread is transformed into a tableside declaration of your loyalty to Starfleet.
A lot of people shy away from pain d’epi because the loaf goes stale faster than an internet meme. A day after you bake it, the Red Shirts you just abandoned planetside can use the rolls to build primitive housing.
The good news is pain d’epi dough stores in the fridge for 8-10 days. Each batch makes four small loaves. This means you only have to go through the annoying proofing and mixing and rising part once every other week. Whenever you want a fresh loaf of bread, pull a wad of dough out of the fridge, let it rise for half an hour, then bake it. Short of a replicator, it’s the easiest way to put fresh home baked bread on the table every night.
3 cups warm water
1 ½ tbsp yeast
2 tbsp kosher salt
2 tbsp olive oil
6 ½ cups bread flour
black food coloring
1 tsp fresh rosemary or 3 cloves crushed, chopped garlic (optional)
Start by taking your yeast out of suspended animation. Mix it with the warm water and let it bloom until a healthy, prosperous colony has formed. This should take about ten minutes.
While the yeast is rising from its artificially induced slumber, bruise your rosemary leaves and mix them with your olive oil and kosher salt. This brings as much flavor as possible out of the rosemary. If you’re not a rosemary fan, you can leave it out (or substitute Herbes de Provance, a couple cloves of crushed and minced garlic, or whatever herbal seasonings are trendy on your planet). The olive oil and seasonings aren’t strictly necessary, but neither was Uhura’s hemline. Some things exist only to make you happy.
Once the yeast has fully wakened from its artificially induced slumber, add the olive oil, salt, and herb blend and gently mix it in. Now add your flour. If you have a stand mixer, attach your dough hook and let it attack your dough for the next six minutes. If yours is a less technologically privileged household, put some muscle into it and knead the dough for about 10-12 minutes.
Epic bread has an epic rising time. Cover the dough with a clean dishcloth and let it rise for about 2 ½ hours, or until doubled in size. In the summer, you might shave 15 minutes off that time while in the winter you might need to add another quarter hour.
Once your bread doubles in size, punch it down, wrap it in plastic, and put it in the fridge. It’ll be fine there for the next 8 – 10 days.
Now comes the interesting part. Gosh, there sure are a lot of photos. I tried two cutting methods to make the Starfleet logo. I still can’t decide which one worked better, so I present them both.
On baking day, cut a grapefruit sized lump of dough off the wad in your fridge. Stretch or roll it into the shape of a small baguette. Cover it up for half an hour and leave it alone.
When you return, it’s time to tame it to your will. Grab a pair of kitchen sheers. Every two inches or so, snip into the dough at a 45 degree angle. You can already see the top of the Starfleet insignia forming.
A less geeky person could tuck some butter and fresh garlic into those folds and bake it as-is. Luckily, you’re not that person.
Tug the newly formed bread segments to opposite sides. You now have a traditional loaf of wheat stalk bread. It’s time to make it futuristic.
See the interior line formed by the first cut? Snip along that line. Now go to the other side and cut out the rest of a triangle.
There’s no need to waste the scraps. I layered 4 of them together, rolled it into a circle, then mashed it somewhat flat. This produced some fantastic pull apart rolls.
Bake at 450 for 20-22 minutes, or until the dough is golden brown. I think the raw dough looked more like Starfleet insignia. The final product puffed in the middle more than I expected. Let’s see another method.
This time, instead of cutting your triangles from the top down, cut them inwards from the sides.
Cut a second triangle out of the bottom of each wedge. You want a somewhat exaggerated shape. Otherwise, the dough will try to revert into a nice, stable triangle when it bakes.
To finish the effect, use your sheers to snip a shallow star shape into the upper portion of each Starfleet insignia.
Use a kitchen brush to paint in some black food coloring. Bake this version for 20-22 minutes at 450F.
Either way, you’ll end up with a loaf of bread that rips easily into 8-10 Starfleet insignia rolls. The exterior is gloriously crunchy while the soft interior is perfect for soaking up soups and sauces.
To keep your remaining dough fresh, moist, and ready to spring into action whenever your hunger goes to red alert, rub the entire remaining dough with olive oil every time you make a loaf. It keeps the bread from drying out and, if you use a highly flavorful low grade olive oil, adds nicely to the final frontier of taste.
Need more Star Trek Recipes?
Vulcan Vegan Keema Stuffed Starfleet Insignia
Klingon Blood Orange Pull Apart Bread
Captain Picard’s Earl Grey Tea-Rimisu
Sisko’s Speedy Gumbo