Homemade country bread recipe for real artisan bread…as Dorcus Lane (don’t you just love her name?) on Larkrise to Candleford says,
Is my one true weakness…
Over the last ten years I have worked on perfecting good quality homemade country bread recipes. I’ve made lots of different types of bread, but the holy grail of real artisan bread is what I have found and will share with you today.
There are a few things you need to understand before we get started. Kind of like secrets I’ve discovered over the years when it comes to making a bread that has a beautiful crust and lovely crumb.
The first thing is that in order to achieve the desired results one must have steam at the beginning of the baking process and everything must be VERY hot. I like to use my cast iron dutch oven. I don’t think it is really the same as the outdoor cooking dutch oven as it doesn’t have those little feet or flat top for putting coals on. It is just a deep dutch over that I inherited so long ago I can’t remember where I got it.
I use my 2 cast iron pans for almost everything I cook. They look like this:
Don’t you love how the bell peppers make the picture pop? Yeah, me too. They will be for dinner tonight, roasted along with that eggplant (you can almost barely make out next to them) with Havarti cheese (because Stokes, the only grocery store within 40 miles of my house doesn’t carry brie, whatever) melted on my roasted garlic slathered fresh baguettes.
I better hurry up here, I’m getting hungry.
There are a couple other options that are covered in the book Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day – my birthday present from my family to me (well, yeah, of course I ordered it myself) that you could use if you don’t have a dutch oven.
This is the basic homemade country bread recipe:
- 6 1/2 cups of flour
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1 tablespoon yeast
- 3 cups water (warm, like 100 degrees – some day I’m going to learn how to make that little degree circle, but it’s not today)
Because this dough will last for up to 4 weeks (not in my house mind you) they suggest making it in a tub with a top that will fit in your fridge. As you use the last of the dough just make a new batch. You don’t even have to clean the bucket because the dough will keep growing. Think Sourdough.
Oh, and yes, I had to order San Francisco Sourdough starter too.
I had a sourdough starter going for quite some time about five years ago. I would only use that, flour, water and salt to make my bread. For awhile there it was going great…then I moved and never got back into it.
Update: I got back into it! See how to make a fast sourdough starter recipe here
Directions for homemade country bread recipe:
Mix all of the ingredients together
DO NOT KNEAD
Let them get to know each other for a couple hours (or overnight) on your counter
After at least 2 hours you can take 1/4 of the dough out of the bucket (or 1/2 of the dough) and shape it into a ball. Be gentle with this process you simply want to pull the dough around and down so you have a nice smooth ball of dough. Put a little flour on your hand to keep the dough from sticking but resist the temptation to work more flour into the dough or knead it.
Now let it Rest
Let this rest on a piece of parchment paper for at least 40 minutes (up to 90 minutes is good) It won’t rise a whole lot here, that’s okay it will rise in the oven.
While your bread is resting heat the oven up to 450 degrees with your dutch oven in the oven heating up too.
After 40 minutes place the dough on the parchment paper in the dutch over and put the lid on for about 20 minutes. Take the lid off and continue cooking another 20 minutes (ish) until you have that beautiful crust. When you take the lid off, slide the parchment paper out from under the bread carefully so as not to burn yourself.
When you are finished your bread should make cracking sounds (they call that singing). Let it rest for a couple hours. I know it is so tempting to dig right in, but if you resist your rewards will be great.
You can make baguettes too!
Because this homemade country bread recipe makes 4 loaves you could have fresh bread for dinner every day. You can double or triple the recipe depending on how many hungry mouths you are feeding. Trust me when the word gets out in the neighborhood you will have to make lots. Random strangers will be stopping by to see how life is at your house, and “oh, by the way, could I sample your bread?”