The Soup Kitchen
Rustic Country Bread Recipe
If you prefer white bread, use all bread flour; if you have graham flour, use that in place of spelt. For a neutral loaf, omit the herbs, or experiment with your favorite combinations.
- 2-1/4 cups bread flour
- 3/4 cup spelt flour
- 1-1/4 teaspoons salt
- 1/4 teaspoon active dry yeast
- 2 tablespoons freshly ground flaxseeds, optional
- 1 tablespoon dried herbs (rosemary, thyme, dill, marjoram, etc.), optional
- 1-1/2 cups cool water
- Coarse cornmeal for dusting
1. Combine all dry ingredients in large mixing bowl. Mix thoroughly.
2. Add the water and stir with a rubber spatula. Stir until thoroughly mixed, adding a little more water, 1 tablespoon at a time if needed, until you have a thoroughly mixed, wet, sticky mass of dough. (The dough will not be like any other bread you’ve made — this will be much wetter and will not form a ball.)
3. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature, out of direct sunlight, for 12 to 18 hours.
4. After 12 to 18 hours have passed, your dough should be dotted with bubbles and more than doubled in size. Dust a wooden cutting board with bread flour and, using plastic dough scrapers, scrape dough loose from the sides of the bowl and turn out onto the board in one piece. Dough will be loose and sticky, but do not add more flour.
5. Dust the top lightly with flour and cover with a clean lint-free cotton or linen tea towel. Let dough rise for another 1 to 2 hours.
6. About 30 minutes before the second rise is complete, place a cast-iron Dutch oven (a 3 to 4-quart size is best, but larger size can be used) on a rack positioned in the lower third of oven. Heat oven to 475 degrees Fahrenheit.
7. Once the oven has reached 475 degrees, remove the pot using heavy-duty potholders (be very careful at this stage — the pot and oven are extremely hot). Sprinkle about 1/2 teaspoon coarse cornmeal evenly over the bottom of pot.
8. Uncover the dough and, using two plastic dough scrapers, shape dough into a ball by folding it over onto itself a few times. With scrapers, lift dough carefully and let it fall into preheated pot by slowly separating the scrapers. Dust the top of dough with coarse cornmeal. Cover the pot and bake for 30 minutes.
9. After 30 minutes, remove the lid from the pot and continue baking for an additional 15 minutes, or until loaf is nicely browned.
10. Remove the pot from the oven. With a sturdy wooden or metal spatula, lift the loaf from the pot and transfer to a cooling rack.
11. Do not slice bread for a minimum of 1 hour — this cooling time completes the process and shouldn’t be overlooked!