I’ve been experimenting with different bread techniques and recipes for at least the last two months. All in order to figure out how to make a rustic style loaf with the perfect chewy crust I love so much. Many disasters and flops later I finally got it! I was absolutely chuffed when I took this beauty out of the oven – it was all I hoped for and more! The skin cracked the right way, the inside full of lovely wholes and with a wonderful springy texture. Honestly, I had to pinch myself!
This particular recipe is made with rye starter and wheat bread flour (or strong flour) dough. Rye starter gives bread that great nutty flavour and also keeps much longer in the fridge compared to wheat flour starters.
I suppose I have to thank my persistence…and Peter Reinhart. I started watching his tutorials a while ago, but remained skeptical until I hit the wall and decided to give it a try. One thing I learnt is that there are no shortcuts in bread making. You need a lot of commitment and at least one full day spent at home tending to your dough. It’s been worth every minute 🙂
- 700 g (25 oz) bread flour
- 400g (13.5 oz) lukewarm water
- 200 g (7 oz) rye starter
- 2 tsp kosher salt (heaped)
The night before making the bread take your pre-prepared starter from the fridge and let come to room temperature. Feed it once, by adding 50 g of flour and 50 g of lukewarm water. Let it react overnight.
In the morning combine all of your ingredients. Rest for 30 mins, then knead for 5 mins.
Place the dough in a large bowl, it will be fermenting for the following 5 hours. The dough will be sticky, but manageable. Personally, I didn’t find the need to add any more flour. Try not to or your loaf may come out tougher than intended.
For the first three hours of the fermentation process stretch and fold the dough every half an hour. This will strengthen the dough and enable it to hold the CO2 bubbles later on during proofing.
After 5 hours place your dough on a counter top and shape into boule. Allow to rest for 5 min and then reshape. Place into a bowl lined with a well floured clean kitchen towel. Cover with another towel and proof for 2 hours.
Place a baking stone on the middle shelf of the oven and preheat it to 500 F. Turn your loaf out onto a sheet pan and then slide it onto the hot baking stone. Bake covered with an oven safe ceramic bow or a round pan (the moisture trapped inside will help produce that crusty skin). After 30 mins take the cover off, lower the heat to 450 F and bake for another 15 mins. Carefully, take it out of the oven and let cool on a rack for 20 mins before slicing.
Now, instead of the baking stone and a cover, a large enough Le Creuset pot can be used to create the “Dutch oven” effect. I will be trying it next time…when I build up the confidence to throw the delicate, proofed loaf into the hot-hot pot! 🙂