I wrote a little about bread yesterday and promised my favorite recipe.
First I want to respond to one more thing:
On Sat, 16 Aug 1997, Monica L. Tittle wrote:
> Turn out and let rest while you clean bowl. Kneed for 10 min. adding
> remaining flour. Place in oiled or sprayed bowl and turn over to coat this
> keeps a crust from forming on the dough.
I've stopped oiling my bread bowl. In fact, I don't even clean it out
between mixing and letting it rise. I turn the dough out, knead it, and
put it back in the same bowl. I cover the bowl with a dish towel and let
it rise. I don't have any trouble with a crust forming on the bread.
Granted, North Carolina is a rather humid location, but when the air is
drier, I just dampen the dish towel, and this still works fine. I also
don't oil my bread pans, and I haven't had any trouble with sticking.
My all-time favorite bread recipe is an oatmeal bread I contributed about
3 years ago. It's in the archives under oatmeal-bread-2. It makes
My new favorite recipe comes from Cook's Illustrated magazine
(interesting magazine, but very meaty and high-fat). They describe the
bread as "the kind where the first bite hits you with a heady burst of
crackle and chew, an inspired whiff of yeast and a hint of sourness. I
didn't want a tea party sandwich loaf; I wanted peasant cooking, the kind
of bread that, when sliced and stuffed into a basket at a
white-tablecloth restaurant, looks like Hercules at a tea party."
From that description (and the fact that I made it without a mixer,
stirring for 15 minutes, while Hercules: The Legendary Journeys was on
TV) comes my nickname for the bread.
Note: the recipe calls for no hand kneading, since the wet texture of the
dough gives the bread its texture. I don't have a mixer, so I stir it
with my wooden spoon, and it turns out fine. It also should be baked on
a pizza stone, which I do have (and highly recommend) so I'm not sure
about any substitutions there.
Rustic Country Bread (Hercules Bread)
1/2 tsp. active dry yeast (not rapid rise)
1 C. tap water
4 1/2 C. bread flour, divided
1 C. whole wheat flour
1/2 C. rye flour
1 1/3 C. tap water
2 Tbs. honey
1 Tbs. kosher salt (or 2 tsp. table salt)
Coarse cornmeal for sprinkling on the peel
Dissolve yeast into 1 C. tap water in a medium-size bowl. Mix in
1 C. bread flour and the whole wheat flour to create a stiff, wet dough.
Cover with plastic wrap; let sit at room temperature for at least 5
hours, preferably overnight. (Can be refrigerated, but return to room
temp before continuing recipe).
Mix remaining 3 1/2 C. bread flour, 1/2 C. rye flour, 1 1/3 C. water,
honey, and the sponge with rubber spatula [**I used a wooden spoon] in
the bowl of an electric mixer. Knead, using dough-hook attachment, on
lowest speed until dough is smooth, about 15 minutes, adding SALT during
final 3 minutes [**don't forget--I did once]. Transfer dough to large
bowl; cover with plastic wrap and let rise until tripled, at least 2 hours.
Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface. Lightly dust hands and top
of dough with flour. Lightly press dough into a large disk and fold the
edges into the center, overlapping edges slightly. Transfer dough,
smooth side down, to colander or basket lined with heavily floured
muslin. Cover loosely with large sheet of aluminum foil; let rise until
almost doubled, at least 45 minutes. As soon as the dough begins to
rise, adjust oven rack to low-center position and arrange quarry tiles or
pizza stone on rack (minimum size 18x12). On the lowest oven rack, place
a small baking pan or cast-iron skillet to hold water. Heat oven to 450
Sprinkle coarse cornmeal liberally over surface of peel (or rimless
cookie sheet). Invert dough onto peel and remove muslin. Use scissors
or serrated knife to cut three slashes on top of dough. Slide dough from
the peel onto tiles. Wearing oven mitts, carefully add 2 cups of hot
water to the pan or skillet. Bake until an instant-read thermometer
inserted in bread registers 210 degrees [**I don't have one] and crust is
very dark brown, 35 to 40 minutes, turning bread around after 25 minutes
if not browning evenly. Turn oven off, open door, and let bread remain
in oven 10 minutes longer. Remove from oven, then let cool to room
temperature before slicing, about 2 hours.
[**I just estimate when it's done, since my thermometer doesn't react to
the temperature change fast enough. I know the recipe looks long, but
it's really very easy (especially if you have a mixer!). I love this
bread--I've been looking for this type of bread with the chewy texture
and large holes for a while.]