Monday, 19 April 2010

Rustic Bread: Mellow Bakers

My newest bread-baking group is called the Mellow Bakers and it’s a good thing, because that’s what I’ve been doing lately. I just got back from a mini vacation and all I’ve wanted to do for the past week is work on my garden.  One of the places we visited had an organic garden and I got lot’s of neat ideas. I was so ready to get back to gardening when I got home.

With all the gardening going on, I got a little bit behind on my bread baking.  Not to worry, my bread-baking hiatus didn’t last very long. It never does.  As of this weekend, I’m back in the game. 

So, without further adieu, I give you Rustic Bread.  This is one of three breads the Mellow Bakers’ group is making for April. I was so pleased when the group chose this one.  I love rustic breads and this one is no exception.

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Rustic Bread Recipe

Makes: 2 Large Loaves

Adapted from: Bread: A Baker’s Book of Techniques and Recipes by Jeffrey Hamelman



  • 1 lb. bread flour (3 1/2 cups)
  • 9.5 oz. water (1 1/4 cups)
  • 1/2 tablespoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon instant yeast

Final dough:

  • 10 oz. bread flour (2 1/2 cups)
  • 6 oz. whole wheat or rye flour or a mixture of them (around 1 1/2 cups)
  • 12.5 oz. water (1 1/2 cups)
  • 1/2 tablespoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon instant yeast
  • all of the preferment



Making the Pre-Ferment

This bread is made with a pre-ferment of bread flour, water, salt and a little bit of dry yeast.

First, add the yeast to the water to dissolve it. Then, add the flour and salt and mix until just smooth.

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Cover the bowl with plastic wrap.

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Let it stand for 12 to 16 hours at about 70 degrees. Here is the preferment after 16 hours.

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Making the Dough

The dough is made using the pre-ferment and a combination of bread flour, whole wheat flour and rye flour.

To make the pre-ferment, add all of the ingredients to the mixing bowl, except the pre-ferment.  You can use a mixer to incorporate all of the ingredients, but I did this by hand (using my dough whisk) because my mixer can’t handle this much dough.

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Add the pre-ferment in chunks.  My pre-ferment wasn’t really chunky so I added it in blobs.

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I finished incorporating the dough with my hands because there was so much dough.

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The dough should be supple and moderately loose.

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Fermenting the Dough

Cover the dough with plastic wrap and let it ferment for 2 1/2 hours.  During the bulk fermentation, you fold the dough twice, once after 50 minutes and again 50 minutes later.  I actually did this part at about 1 hour and 10 minutes and then 60 minutes later.

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I let it rest on the counter for about 3 1/2 hours (since I was working in my garden), then decided I wasn’t ready to bake the bread so I put it in the refrigerator to retard overnight.  I took it out the next day and let it warm up to room temperature before mixing the dough.

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Shaping the Dough

Divide the dough into two equal pieces (1.5-pound pieces). Preshape the dough lightly into rounds and place on a lightly floured work surface, seam side up. Cover the mounds with plastic wrap.

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Let the dough relax for 10 to 20 minutes, then shape into round or oval loaves.

I decided to shape the rounds into batards using the method from the Bread Baker’s Apprentice

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For more information on shaping a batard, check out this post on Tuscan Bread.


Proofing the Dough

Place the batards into a couche.  To make a couche, I sprayed baker’s linen with cooking spray, then heavily dusted it with flour and placed the batards between the folds.

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Then I covered the dough with plastic wrap and let it ferment for about 1 1/2 hours.  As you can see I used my sugar bowl and the book to keep the dough from spreading. 

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This is the dough after fermenting for an hour and a half.

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Invert the loaves onto a baking peel covered with parchment paper.

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Slash the loaves with a serrated knife.

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Baking the Loaves

Bake the bread for about 35 to 38 minutes in a 450 degrees preheated oven.  I preheated the oven with the baking stone in it and placed a steam pan underneath to create steam.

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After I slid the loaves onto the baking stone, I placed 1 cup of hot water into the steam pan, then closed the door.

After about 30 seconds, I sprayed the oven walls with a spray bottle filled with water to create more steam.  I did this 3 times, then let the bread bake for about 10 minutes, then rotated the loaves for even baking.

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Bake the loaves until they are golden brown and sound hollow when tapped on the bottom.  Then remove the loaves to a cooling rack to cool. I let them cool for about an hour.

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Here are the finished loaves. Aren’t they beautiful!

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This bread has been YeastSpotted. Please visit Wild Yeast to view all of the lovely breads in the roundup.


Here is a shot of the crumb. This bread tastes great warm with butter.  Delicious! 

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Want to bake at an easy pace, join us! Mellow Bakers was started by Paul at Yumarama. We’re baking breads from Bread: A Baker’s Book of Techniques and Recipes by Jeffrey Hamelman.


Thanks for joining us in the bread-baking blog.  We hope you’ll join us again soon.

Happy Baking!

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