I’ve been wanting a recipe for a rustic bread with a thick, chewy, crunchy crust. My previous attempts to find a recipe such as this were unsuccessful, leaving me with a thin crispy cruch, but not at all chewy or thick. This recipe was simple, baked up beautifully and tasted excellent. We ate it along side bowtie pasta with alfredo sauce and spinach clementine salads.
Rustic White Bread
recipe courtesy of smittenkitchen
- 2 cups warm tap water, about 110 degrees
- 2 1/2 teaspoons (1 envelope) active dry yeast
- 5 1/4 to 5 1/2 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
- 4 teaspoons salt
- 1/3 cup flour for dusting the loaves
- Cornmeal for the pans
- 2 small cookie sheets or a large (at least 11×17-inch) jelly roll pan
To make the dough, in a 3-quart mixing bowl place water and sprinkle yeast on surface, allowing it to stand for two minutes before whisking. To mix dough in a heavy-duty mixer, place smaller amount of flour and salt in bowl of mixer fitted with a dough hook. Add water and yeast and mix on low speed to form a smooth, elastic and slightly sticky dough, about 5 minutes. Incorporate the remaining flour a tablespoon at time if the dough is too soft.
Place dough in an oiled bowl and turn dough over so top is oiled. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and allow dough to rise at room temperature until doubled.
To shape loaves, scrape risen dough onto a lightly floured surface and press it to deflate it. Divide dough in half and shape one piece at a time. Press dough into a square, then roll it up tightly. Rotate cylinder of dough 90 degrees and roll up again from short end. Arrange dough seam side down, cover with plastic or a towel and let it rest of 5 minutes. Repeat with remaining piece of dough.
Dust pan with cornmeal. Roll each piece of dough under palms of your hands to elongate it. Work from middle of loaf outward, pointing the ends slightly. Place loaves seam side down on cookie sheets and dust each loaf heavily with flour, using about 1/3 cup in all. Cover with plastic or a towel and allow to rise until doubled.
About 30 minutes before you intend to bake the loaves, preheat oven to 500 degrees F and set racks at the middle and lowest levels. Set a pan on the lowest rack to absorb some of the excess bottom heat and keep the bottom of the loaves from burning.
Holding a razor blade or the point of a very sharp knife at a 30-degree angle to the top of each loaf, make 3 to 4 diagonal slashes in each loaf. Immediately place loaves in oven and lower temperature 450 degrees F. After loaves have baked for 20 minutes and are completely risen, lower temperature to 350 degrees F and continue baking about 20 to 30 minutes longer, until bread reaches an internal temperature of about 220 degrees F*. Remove loaves from oven and cool on a rack.
*My bread seemed stuck at 200 degrees F. Checking it at the 20 minute mark (after lowering the oven to 350) it read 200. Five minutes later it still read 200.