Tuesday, January 14, 2014

TWD: Country Bread

Crusty bread!   One of my favorite things in this world.  Especially the day it's baked, still a little warm, slathered with butter.  

Seriously.   What could be better??

This week's Tuesdays With Dorie recipe is Country Bread, by contributer Joe Ortiz.   The dough begins with a sponge, which must rest at least 6 to 8 hours at room temperature, or overnight in the fridge.  This gives time for the yeast, wheat, and rye to work their magic, fermenting and inflating and developing this bread's sourdough qualities.

The sponge is mixed with additional yeast, flour, water, and salt.  After rising, the dough is shaped and set in a banneton, basket, or cloth-lined bowl to rise a second time.  Finally, the dough is set upon a baking stone, slashed with a sharp knife, and baked in a steamy, hot oven for an hour.

If you'd like to view an episode of Baking With Julia featuring decorative sourdough breads with Joe Ortiz, see here!    

Country Bread
~*~Joe Ortiz~*~

 1 1/2 cups warm water
2 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 cup bread flour or unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup rye flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour

 1 teaspoon active dry yeast
1 cup water
3 - 3 1/2 cups bread flour or unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 Tablespoon salt

 Put 1/4 cup water into a mixer bowl and sprinkle with the yeast, stirring to mix.  Allow the yeast to rest for about 5 minutes, until it gets creamy, before adding the rest of the water. Stir the three flours together and gradually add them to the yeast mixture, stirring with a wooden spoon until the sponge has the consistency of pancake batter.

Cover with a towel and allow to rest at room temperature for 6 to 8 hours, during which time it will rise and fall,  or refrigerate overnight. If you've chilled the sponge, pull it out of the refrigerator an hour before you're ready to continue with the recipe and, just to be on the safe side, use warm water in the next step.

Dissolve the yeast in 1/2 cup of water and pour the other 1/2 cup into the bowl with the sponge. Combine the 3 cups of bread flour and the wheat flour in a separate bowl.  Working in the mixer with the dough hook in place, gradually add 2 cups of the flour to the sponge, mixing on medium-low speed.  After mixing for about 3 minutes, add the yeast mixture and beat to incorporate.Sprinkle the salt over the dough and mix it in. Now work the remaining flour mixture into the dough, adding enough additional flour to make a dough that starts to clean the sides of the bowl. Increase the mixer to medium and to knead the dough for about 10 minutes. The dough should be moist, even a bit sticky.

Second rise:  Turn the dough into a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Allow the dough to proof at room temperature for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, or until it doubles in volume.

Shaping the Dough:  Prepare a resting place for the loaf.  A banneton that measure 8 inches across at the base would be good, as would a large basket or colander lined with a linen towel.  Rub flour into the linger of the banneton or basket and set aside until needed.

Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and pat it into a flat circle with your fingers and palms. Fold the edges into the center and press with the heel of your hand. Then flip the dough over and using your cupped hands, work the cough against the counter to form a tight ball that is about the same size as your banneton or basket. Repeat this pattern four more times.  Turn the dough smooth side down in the banneton

Final rise:  Cover again with lightly oiled plastic wrap and let it rest at room temperature until doubled in volume, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

Baking the bread:  About 30 minutes before you're ready to bake the bread, position an oven rack to the lower third of your oven and line it with a baking stone or quarry tiles, leaving a border of at least 1 inch all around.   Preheat the oven to 425F. Pour some water into a spray bottle and set aside.

Rub a bakers peel or baking sheet with cornmeal and carefully invert the loaf onto it. Spray the oven walls with water and close the door immediately to trap the steam. Slash a few lines across the top of the dough in a pattern that appeals to you---3 long slashes or a broad tic-tac-toe pattern would be nice--- cutting in about 1/2 inch. Slide the dough from the peel/cookie sheet onto the baking stone, spray the oven walls with water again, shut the oven door and turn the temperature down to 400F. Bake for 60-70 minutes, until the crust is deeply golden. The loaf should sound hollow if you knock on the bottom, and should read 200F if an instant-read thermometer is inserted into the center.

Remove the loaf to a rack an allow it to cool on a rack for at least 20 minutes, preferably longer, before cutting. It really is best to allow the bread to cool to room temperature before cutting.

Storing:  This loaf will keep for 3 days at room temperature. Store with the cut side down on the counter--its thick crust will be fine exposed to the air.  For storage of us up a month, wrap the loaf airtight in plastic wrap and freeze it. Thaw, still wrapped, at room temperature.


  1. Your so right, warm, fresh crusty bread is hard to resist. Your loaf looks good.

  2. Nothing is better, a nice slice of fresh bread with your favorite marmalade!!! So Yummy!!!!
    I enjoy this kind of bread, simple but which never tires!!
    Yours is perfect!!!

  3. Dawn, what a lovely loaf you've baked.
    Thank you so much for sharing the video - it's so interesting.

    1. I enjoyed the video as well! You're welcome.

  4. Looks beautiful, Dawn! It’s one of my favorite things too! Your slices look so perfect and moist, lovely job!

    1. We've enjoyed thick slices for breakfast with honey butter this week. Our loaf is nearly gone! Time to make more!

  5. Yep, nothing better than fresh baked bread! Great looking loaf!

  6. Your loaf came out beautifully! I'm glad you mentioned eating this warm. I know the recipe said to wait until the bread was cool to cut into it, but I hate missing out on fresh, warm bread.

  7. Yes, that's excactly how I like my bread best....warm out of th oven! YUM!

    1. The crust was so crunchy and perfect, straight from the oven!

  8. The crumb on your bread is just lovely!

    Few things are better than warm, fresh bread.

  9. Bread looks beautiful. It was excellent just out of the oven and covered in lots of butter. The crust was wonderful

    1. We loved it with the honey butter. Both are all gone now! Boooo!

  10. Everything is better with butter - especially warm bread! Lovely post, Dawn.