Crusty Rustic Loaf Recipe
This recipe for a hearty loaf takes advantage of all of Greg Carpenter’s bread-baking tips.
- A scale that can measure up to 500 Grams
- Measuring bowls to weigh out liquid and dry ingredients
- A large bowl for mixing and fermenting the dough
- A sturdy spoon
- A plastic dough scraper (optional)
- Parchment or aluminum foil
- Plastic wrap
- A Dutch oven or other suitable, covered, oven proof container at least 6 inches deep
- 1 gram active dry yeast
- 300 grams water, room temperature or slightly cooler (65–70 degrees)
- 240 grams unbleached bread flour, preferably organic
- 160 grams whole wheat flour (fresh ground, if you can get it)
- 8 grams salt
Step 1: Mix the Dough
Measure the yeast into the water and dissolve it.
In a medium-large bowl combine the dry ingredients. Add the water/yeast and mix together immediately until the ingredients are well combined and there are no lumps. This should take about a minute and will produce a sticky, batter-like dough.
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it sit until the dough has at least doubled in size, which will take about 12 hours. Don’t worry too much about the time; just let it rise overnight for convenience. The dough will remain usable for up to 24 hours. The longer it rises, the richer the flavor. It should be risen and full of bubbles before moving on to the next step.
Step 2: Shape the Dough
Once the dough is ready, gently remove it from the bowl and place onto a work surface heavily dusted with flour. A plastic dough scraper can be useful for this. The dough should feel sticky; resist the urge to add more flour. Try to remove it from the bowl without tearing it.
Once the dough is on the work surface use lightly floured hands or a dough scraper to gently coax it into a ball shape by folding the edges into the middle and gathering them. Don’t worry too much about making a perfect ball. If it looks more like a blob, that’s OK. Handle the dough gently and minimize deflation.
Heavily dust a piece of parchment or foil with flour, cornmeal or bran. Gently move the ball of dough onto the parchment with the seam side down … it’s okay to flour the outside of the dough ball if that makes it easier to handle. Dust the top of the ball with flour and lightly cover it with plastic wrap or a dry tea towel. Let the loaf rise in a warm spot for 45 minutes to 2 hours, or until the dough is noticeably larger.
Once the dough has been gently shaped and put aside to rise, preheat the oven to 475 and place the empty Dutch oven inside to preheat.
Step 3: Bake the Bread
When the dough has risen, grab your hot pads and VERY CAREFULLY remove the preheated Dutch oven from the oven. Remove its lid, uncover the loaf, lightly dust it with a little more flour and gently invert it into the hot container. Don’t worry if the dough is no longer round or is off center in the Dutch oven—this is a rustic loaf!
Immediately put the cover back on the container and place it back into the oven. Bake for 25 minutes. In the first 25 minutes the loaf will have reached its full volume and will have begun to firm up. Remove the lid and bake another 15 to 20 minutes or until the crust is as dark as you like.
Step 4: Cool the Loaf
Once the bread is browned to your liking remove it from the oven and remove it from the container. RESIST THE URGE to tear right into the loaf while it is still hot! It has not finished baking yet. Cutting into it will release clouds of moisture from the loaf. When the dough has cooled to the point where it is just barely warm (about an hour) go ahead and tear into it! Now would be a good time to mix dough for tomorrow’s loaf because you know this one will be gone by then.