Crusty Rustic Bread Recipe
- 3 cups of water
- 1 1/2 Tablespoons of Coarse Salt
- 1 /1/2 Tablespoons of Yeast (2 packets)
- 1-2 Tbs. honey
- 6 1/2 cups of all purpose flour
- Flour to dust dough ball
Run your tap until the water is warm, just about body temperature. If it is too hot, it will kill the yeast.
Add the yeast and honey to the water and mix it up. Don’t worry if all the yeast does not dissolve; it will finish mixing in the flour. At this point, add the flour and salt and begin working into the mixture. You can use a spoon, but will probably have to dig in with your hands to finish the job.
Shake some extra flour out on the counter. To knead the dough, dump it out onto a clean, floured countertop. Knead for around 5 minutes, pushing with the heel of your hand, then gathering the dough back into a lump. Add a little flour at a time as needed if the dough is too sticky. Knead until the dough becomes one big mass; You will know when the dough is ready by poking it: if the dough bounces back, you’re all set.
Now place your dough into a clean bowl, cover with a towel, and let sit in a warm place for about 2 hours. You can also let it rise overnight by putting it in the refrigerator, where it will rise more slowly. You can even let the dough sit in the fridge for a couple of days, at which point it will begin to take on a slight sourdough taste.
Once your dough has at least doubled in size you are ready to form it into loaves. Divide the dough into thirds. This is the only time you really handle the dough. You need to pull it down to form a ball, tucking all the ends in at the bottom. The ball should be semi smooth.
Now, sprinkle a dash of cornmeal on a baking sheet and place the dough on top. The corn meal keeps the bread from sticking. Allow to rise for about 40 minutes. Preheat your oven to 450 degrees.
Before putting the bread in the oven, dust the top with a bit of flour and make some light slices into the dough for that artisan look. You can make the loaves any shape you like, although a larger loaf will take longer to bake
One final trick to a nice loaf of rustic bread is to make the crust crusty. To achieve this, fill a second baking dish or a broiler pan with water and place it under the rack where your bread will go. The steam from the water adds a nice crunch to the loaf. Place your risen loaves in the oven, close the door, and bake for around 30 minutes to start. The crust should have a dark brown color, and the loaves should sound hollow when you tap them.
You will be tempted to break into the hot bread, but if you can stand to wait, it will give the bread a chance to really settle into perfection. Serve the bread sliced, plain, with seasoned olive oil, honey, or your favorite butter.