Homemade Crusty Bread

I knew that I wanted to serve those mussels up with a delicious crusty bread and I decided that rather than buying one, I’d bake one myself. I often bake flatbreads– pita, naan, and pizza– but I rarely bake other loaves– somehow they seem intim. But this recipe, adapted from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoë François, hardly takes any time at all and resulted in 2 beautiful, warm, crusty loaves.

crusty-breadSimple Crusty Bread

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons yeast (1 packet)
  • 3 cups lukewarm water
  • 1 teaspoon honey or sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons sea salt
  • 4 cups unbleached all-purpose white flour plus more for dusting
  • 2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • Cornmeal

In a medium container (I used a large mason jar), mix yeast and honey or sugar into 3 cups lukewarm water. In a large bowl, mix flour with salt. Mix in yeast mixture until there are no dry patches. Dough will be quite loose. (I have a Kitchen Aid mixer, and with the dough hook, this takes just a couple minutes.) Cover with a clean towel. Let dough rise at room temperature 2 hours (or up to 5 hours). Or, for a quicker rise (which I did) let rise in an oven heated to 170 degrees for up to 1 hour.

Sprinkle a little flour on dough, and cut in half with a serrated knife. Turn dough in hands to lightly stretch surface, creating a rounded top and lumpy bottom. Place dough on a pizza peel dusted liberally with cornmeal. Let rest 30-40 minutes. Repeat with other half  (or refrigerate for up to 2 weeks).

Meanwhile, preheat oven to 450 and place a stone in the middle rack. Place a broiler pan on the bottom of the oven.

After dough has rested, dust with flour  and slash three times with a serrated knife. Slide onto stone. Pour one cup of hot water onto broiler pan and shut oven quickly to trap steam. Bake until well browned about 30 minutes. Cool and serve.

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