Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Rustic Country Bread

A simple and easy loaf to make. Just as the author describes, not only it is a straightforward recipe, it is satisfying and delicious. I started to prepare the dough in the morning, and by evening I have a lovely loaf for dinner.

The recipe uses a mixture of bread flour and all purpose flour, but I have used all bread flour, and reduced the salt to just 3/4 teaspoon. I did not have a pizza stone, so I've used an upturned baking sheet instead.  I baked the bread five minutes longer to get that darker crust.

The bread has chewy crust and soft tasty crumbs. I was glad that I have reduced the salt, as using the full amount would have been too salty for us. We enjoyed slices of this rustic bread for dinner, with some stew, lovely.

Rustic Country Bread
(The Everyday Baker, Abigail Johnson Dodge)
makes 1 loaf (1-1/4 lb/567 gm)
2 cups (9oz/255gm) bread flour
1 cup (4-1/2 oz/128gm) unbleached all purpose flour + more for dusting
1-1/2 tsp quick-rise (instant) yeast
1 tsp granulated sugar
1-1/2 tsp table salt (I use 3/4 tsp salt)
1 cup to 2 tbsp (270ml) water, warmed to between 115° and 125°F (45° and 52°C)
Nonstick cooking spray or neutral oil (safflower, canola, vegetable, or corn), for greasing the bowl
Fine or coarse cornmeal, for dusting

Make the dough
  1. Put the flours, yeast, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk until well blended, and fit the mixer with a dough hook. Mix on medium speed while pouring the warm water into the flour mixture. Increase the speed to medium high and beat until the dough is smooth and elastic, 4 to 6 minutes. If the dough climbs up the hook, stop the mixer and scrape the dough into the bowl. The dough will be soft and sticky to the touch.
  2. Remove the dough hook, scrape the dough onto the counter, knead once or twice until it no longer sticks to the counter and passes the "window-pane" test, and shape into a ball. Lightly grease the sides of the bowl and put the dough, rounded side up, back in. Cover the bowl with a plate or plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm spot until doubled in size, 2 to 3 hours.
Shape the dough
Generously dust a pizza peel or cookie sheet with cornmeal. Scrape the dough onto an unfloured work surface and press down on the dough to deflate it. Shape the dough into a round ball about 6 inches (15cm) wide, making sure the top is smooth and there is no seam on the bottom. Arrange on the peel and cover with a large overturned bowl or cake cover. Let the dough rise until puffed and almost doubled in size, 2 to 2-1/2 hours.

Bake the bread
  1. Position a rack in the bottom third of the oven and set a pizza stone on the rack. Heat the oven to 450°F (230°C/gas 8) for at least 20 minutes. Fill a spray bottle with water.
  2. Dust the top of the loaf with 2 or 3 tbsp flour and, using a razor or long, very sharp knife, cut 4 slits across the top of the dough, about 1/2 inch (12mm) deep, in a tic-tac-toe design. Slide the bread from the peel onto the stone, and using the spray bottle, spritz the inside the of the oven several times.
  3. Bake until the loaf is deep golden brown and an instant-read thermometer inserted in the centre reads 190° to 200°F (88° to 95°C), 32 to 35 minutes. Slide the bread onto the peel or cookie sheet and move to a rack. Let cool for at least 1 hour before slicing with a serrated knife.

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