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Bread 101: How to cut an epi

baked epi

With the holidays coming up, dinner rolls take a step forward over at A Year in Bread. Susan, Kevin and I have posted recipes for three different takes on rolls suitable for your holiday table. We've got three tempting options for your holiday table, soup bowl or your Friday turkey sandwich.

  • Farmgirl Susan's Carrot Herb Rolls are absolutely gorgeous! Full of carrots, parsley, fresh rosemary and thyme, this recipe is from a new book that Susan got her hands on (and about which she has been taunting me) Bread:Artisan Breads from Baguettes and Bagels to Focaccia and Brioche. It's going on my seemingly endless wish list!
  • Kevin' Seriously Good Beer Rolls are not your grandmother's beer rolls. Dark porter plays off honey in a beer bread that, rather than the quick bread approach of most beer breads, has two rises and a starter! Golden brown and earthy looking, I am planning on making a batch of these for turkey sandwiches. (If it's a recipe from Kevin, I am guessing it makes great sandwiches!)   
  • kitchenMage's Rosemary Fans are a simple variation on a baguette recipe but the rolls are a big payoff for a little extra effort. The dough is very forgiving and shaping the rolls is an imprecise science at best so it is a great recipe to let the kids help with.  

Another option when individual rolls are called for is an epi, a traditional shape that represents a sheaf of wheat. While it is technically still a loaf, they have almost as much delightfully crust as a roll and individual sections break off easily in a perfect union of form and function.

Epis are also surprisingly easy to make. You start with a baguette shape and make a series of cuts with scissors. Since the implement of destruction is scissors rather than a knife, small people can help too. Speaking of children, you can start with a mini-baguette to make a child-size epi so the monstrrrs at the table get the fun of ripping off their own piece.

Epis are a shape as opposed to a dough recipe, although they are traditionally made with Pain de Campagne or something similar. I either use that or the same reliable polish baguette that I used for the Rosemary Fans.

Shaping an epi looks like an intimidating thing but it is actually rather simple. Start by shaping a baguette and placing it on a parchment covered baking sheet to rise. When the loaf is fully risen, grab a clean pair of scissors and follow along with the pictures.

How to cut an epi 1

Start about 3 inches from one end of the loaf, cut into the dough at an angle.

How to cut an epi 2

Once the scissor blades are closed, swing the scissors to one side of the loaf and then slip them out from under the dough.

How to cut an epi 3

Like this. (You may say Ta Da! the first time you do this. In fact, I encourage you to.)

How to cut an epi 4

Move down a few inches, repeat the cut, pulling the cut piece of dough in the other direction.

How to cut an epi 5

Make another cut and pull the bread to the same side as the first piece. Alternate sides as you continue to cut the dough.

How to cut an epi 6

Repeat this until you get to the end of the loaf.

How to cut an epi 7

The real trick is keeping the scissors as close to parallel with the bread as possible. The cuts need to be long and shallow in order to create the elongated connection points that give the epi its characteristic shape. (The angle of the cuts in these pictures is not optimal, but it's what I pulled off while taking pictures of myself so let's pretend.)

How to cut an epi 8

Snip, pull, repeat.

How to cut an epi 9

Cuts should go almost through the loaf, just leaving a little bit attached.

How to cut an epi 10

Snip, pull, repeat. See? This is a piece of cake...errr, bread.

How to cut an epi 11

I sometimes make a final cut on the end to add in a bit of a point. It's certainly not necessary.

baked epi

When you have finished cutting the bread into an epi, bake per the recipe you used for the dough. You can slide the loaf onto a hot baking stone if you are feeling a bit crazy but after losing one epi as the unstable pieces shifted, I generally keep it on the baking sheet.

Note: The same technique can be used on dough that has been shaped into a circle to create a wreath.

How to cut an epi flickr set

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