I really liked this recipe. While I was in the middle of making it, I had a moment of doubt because a lot of the bread recipes I use to make rustic loaves take a long time to make. Using extended rising times and cooler temperatures contribute to the flavor of the bread. But this was a hearth bread recipe that did not use these techniques, and I wondered if the flavor would suffer.
The good news is no, although I wonder if the extra salt in the recipe had something to do with it. It was not enough to make the loaves unpleasantly salty, but it was more than I think I used to make loaves with a longer rising time. However, I did like the flavor of the bread, and if I wanted a rustic white bread and only had a few hours to make one, I would definitely turn to this recipe again.
Here is my dough, mixed and ready to rise.
And here’s the part where I forgot I had it rising.
The dough was very soft. The recipe has you shape the dough twice, rolling it up like a loaf, and then turning it 90 degrees to roll again, which made it fatter than normal.
I tried to roll out the loaves into a more oblong shape, but they still ended up pretty round.
The recipe also told us to dust the loaves heavily with flour. I have seen this instruction before, but I am glad that a definite amount of 1/3 c was given, because I never would have thought to use that much. I can see that before now, my dustings with flour have been criminally underdusted.
I also forgot to slash the bread, but I also wonder how I could have gone about doing it with that coat of flour on top? I will have to figure it out next time.
Rustic White Bread
I got this recipe from Smitten Kitchen, who got it from The Institute of Culinary Education. I weighed all the ingredients, and used instant yeast rather than active dry, so skipped the proofing step.
2 cups warm tap water, about 110 degrees
2 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast
5 1/4 to 5 1/2 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
4 teaspoons salt
1/3 cup flour for dusting the loaves
Cornmeal or parchment paper for the pans
2 small cookie sheets or a large (at least 11×17-inch) jelly roll pan
Place smaller amount of flour, yeast, and salt in bowl of mixer fitted with a dough hook. Add water and mix on low speed to form a smooth, elastic and slightly sticky dough, about 5 minutes. Incorporate the remaining flour a tablespoon at time if the dough is too soft. I added flour until the dough was tacky but not sticky.
Place dough in an oiled bowl (you may need to use a scraper) and turn dough over so top is oiled. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and allow dough to rise at room temperature until doubled. If you wish to interrupt the process, let the dough begin to rise, then punch it down, cover it tightly and refrigerate. When you are ready to proceed, bring back to room temperature until it begins rising again.
To shape loaves, scrape risen dough onto a lightly floured surface and press it to deflate it. Divide dough in half and shape one piece at a time. Press dough into a square, then roll it up tightly. Rotate cylinder of dough 90 degrees and roll up again from short end. Arrange dough seam side down, cover with plastic or a towel and let it rest of 5 minutes. Repeat with remaining piece of dough.
Dust sheet pan with cornmeal or cover it with parchment paper. Roll each piece of dough under palms of your hands to elongate it. Work from middle of loaf outward, pointing the ends slightly. Place loaves seam side down on cookie sheets and dust each loaf heavily with flour, using about 1/3 cup in all. Cover with plastic or a towel and allow to rise until doubled.
About 30 minutes before you intend to bake the loaves, preheat oven to 500 degrees and set racks at the middle and lowest levels. Set a pan on the lowest rack to absorb some of the excess bottom heat and keep the bottom of the loaves from burning.
Holding a razor blade or the point of a very sharp knife at a 30-degree angle to the top of each loaf, make 3 to 4 diagonal slashes in each loaf. Immediately place loaves in oven and lower temperature to 450 degrees.
After loaves have baked for 20 minutes and are completely risen, lower temperature to 350 degrees and continue baking about 20 to 30 minutes longer, until bread reaches an internal temperature of about 220 degrees. Remove loaves from oven and cool on a rack.