crusty country loaf
Crusty Country Loaf
Bread in the traditional country style, made with the simplest ingredients. My favorite flour for this loaf comes from a Missouri Mill and is stoneground white flour with flecks of golden bran. Makes one loaf.
1 package active dry yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
1 - 3/4 cups warm water (110 degrees F.)
5 cups hard wheat unbleached flour or all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon salt
Dissolve yeast in warm water in a large mixing bowl. Add about 1 cup of the flour and the salt; beat well. Add enough additional flour to make a stiff dough. Turn out onto a lightly floured board and knead for about 10 minutes, adding flour as needed until dough is smooth. (Dough for free-form loaves needs to be a little stiffer than for pan loaves.) Place in a greased bowl and turn to coat the surface. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about an hour.
Punch down the dough and knead a few times (If dough seems soft, you can knead in a little more flour at this point.) Let rise a second time. Punch dough down again and knead as before. Shape into a round loaf, being careful to tuck dough under tightly so the ball of dough is very round and plump. Place loaf on the bottom portion of the La Cloche that has been lightly coated with oil and sprinkled with cornmeal. Let dough rise, covered, while oven and La Cloche cover preheat to 425º, about 20 minutes. A few minutes before baking, gently plump the shaped loaf and slash the top deeply with a lame.
Place the preheated cover over the loaf and place the La Cloche in the oven. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove the cover and continue baking for 10 to 15 minutes, until loaf has reached the desired crispness and golden brown color. Remove from pan onto a rack to cool. Makes 1 loaf.
For Whole Grain Country Loaves, use ½ cup of whole wheat flour in place of ½ cup of the all-purpose flour. Or, add 2 tbsp. miller’s bran or wheat germ.