rustic bread

over the years, i have clipped and saved hundreds of recipes from magazines and other books. i have a file of these recipes that i enjoy looking through and often selecting one or many for menu planning for the week.

here is a recipe that i had saved from country living magazine from last year, and decided to try it out a couple of weeks ago.  it is a rustic bread, meaning that is doesn’t have a neat shape, and is baked on a sheet pan.  it is almost like a focaccia bread used for dipping in extra virgin olive oil.  it is chewy and dense and quite tasty.  this bread must be used within a couple of days or it will become hard.  it can be used for croutons after serving once or twice.

to make the bread, heat 1 cup of water, 2/3 cup of whole milk, and 1 tablespoon of superfine sugar over medium heat until 90 degrees.  i used a thermometer.  remove from the heat and stir in 1 ounce of fresh active yeast until dissolved.

next, in a large bowl, combine 5 cups bread flour with 1 1/2 tablespoons coarse sea salt.  pour into the bowl, the warm yeast mixture, and mix together using your hands.  it will become a soft sticky dough.  add more flour to form into a nice ball that can be kneaded for 5 minutes.  place dough in a lightly floured bowl and cover with a towel, allowing to rise for about 1 hour. 

after rising, punch dough down and form into a 10 by 7 rectangle about 2 inches thick.  place on a parchment lined baking sheet, cover with the towel again, and allow to rise for 1 hour more.

preheat the oven to 400 degrees, press fingerprints into the top of the dough, and add fresh or dried rosemary to the top of the loaf.  sprinkle with more coarse sea salt.  bake until golden and hollow for about 30 minutes. 

this is a fun easy bread to make and can be enjoyed as an appetizer or along with soup and salad.

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