French Epi

Epi is the French name for the flower of wheat, which is where the wheat kernels are found. Pain (French for “bread”) epi is sliced before baking so that it opens up in the oven and resembles a shaft of wheat.

Serves: 24Hands-on: 30 minutesTotal: 10 hours 20 minutesDifficulty: Medium

Serves: 24


  • 2 cups warm water
  • 1 Tbsp. granulated sugar
  • 2½ tsp. active dry yeast (2 packages)
  • 5 cups bread flour
  • 1 Tbsp. kosher salt
  • ¼ cup cornmeal


  • Combine 1 cup water, sugar, and yeast. Stir to dissolve and let stand 5 minutes. Add 1 cup flour and beat 1 minute. Cover and let stand at room temperature 8 hours.
  • Add to the sponge 1 cup water, salt, and enough flour to make a soft dough. Turn out onto a floured work surface and knead 8–10 minutes. Add flour only to reduce stickiness. Return to bowl, dust with flour, cover with plastic, and rise at room temperature until doubled in volume, about 1 hour.
  • Line a baking sheet with parchment; dust with cornmeal. Turn risen dough onto a floured surface and divide into 3 equal portions. Roll each piece into a tight rope, and taper the ends slightly. Place loaves on pan, dust with flour, cover with plastic wrap, and rise another 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  • Coming in at a 45° angle, slice into each rope, alternating from side to side, every 3 inches all the way up. Dust with flour. Place a pan of cold water at the bottom of the oven to create steam. Bake until golden brown and firm, about 20 minutes. Remove to a rack and cool completely before slicing.