Rustic Bread

For Christmas this year, I was assigned bread. I made another batch of the hot potato rolls, then I also made a couple loaves of a rustic bread recipe, found here. I made this bread again yesterday, and it was improved over the first attempt. To include my own notes, I’m recreating the recipe here as well. This recipe does take some advanced planning.

Day 1
1 lb bread flour
9.5 oz water
1/8th tsp yeast
1/2 tbsp salt

Mix ingredients together until dough forms. For me, this is best done in a stand mixer. The dough will probably be pretty stiff-that’s ok. Once together, cover bowl with plastic wrap, and stash it out of the way until the next day. It should sit, undisturbed for 12-16 hours. From what I’ve been able to gather, this is basically a biga.

Day 2
10 oz bread flour
6 oz whole wheat flour
12.5 oz water
1/2 tbsp salt
1/2 tsp yeast
Day 1 Dough

Mix new ingredients together to form a dough. Then, with dough hook in and mixer on, gradually incorporate small pieces of the biga until you have it all together. Let kneed another 5-10 minutes, until the mixture is fairly homogenous. Place dough in greased bowl, cover and let rise for 1-1.5 hours. Punch down, let rise again. Punch down once more and let rise. At this point, shape dough into loaves (2 works for me). Let rise again. Halfway through this rise, preheat oven to 450 degrees. I have a baking stone that I use, which I really enjoy. Also, if you use a tray for water or ice cubes, get that in there when it was preheating. Then, score loaves, and put them in the oven (with water or ice cubes added at the same time). Let bake about 30-35 minutes. I find that I can bake on a tray with cornmeal dusted parchment for about 20 minutes, then I remove the tray and place loaves upside down on the stone for the remaining time. This allows them to get a nice even brown all the way around. Remove from oven and let cool.

The resulting bread is a really nice, lightly nutty wheat loaf, with the characteristic wheat bread taste, but not the cardboard characteristics too many whole wheat breads have. While I still need to work on my own technique with this (more kneading time when assembling), I’m still very pleased with this recipe, and I look forward to further refining my execution of it.

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