Thursday, January 16, 2014

TWD: Country Bread

My Tuesdays with Dorie post is coming to you on a Thursday because I can't seem to get my act together.

Better late than never right?

Goodness gracious, things have been busy around here! I am working on many projects around the house and have barely had a chance to sit down and blog about any of them. I guess my New Year's resolution will be to try to schedule my time a little better so I have more room for hobbies.

When the schedule for Tuesdays with Dorie was posted for January, I was so excited to see this recipe for Country Bread at the top of the list. I have been eyeballing this recipe for a long time since one of my favorite loaves of bread is Pain de Campagne. It's a french sourdough bread made with just a small addition of wheat and/or rye flour to give it an earthy flavor. It's fantastic on it's own smeared in butter or used in a panini sandwich. I have made Pain de Campagne before, but the process has always been a bit involved. This recipe from Baking with Julia sounded much simpler and if it could replicate the flavor of a good Pain de Campagne, I would be ecstatic!

The recipe did not disappoint. It was so easy to make - each step came together quickly and the rising times were spot on. For the final rise, I used a colander lined with a linen towel as my "cloche" and it worked out perfectly. The result was a beautifully golden brown, tall round bread. I loved the thick chewy crust and the spongy interior of the bread - perfectly addicting. The sourdough flavor was very pronounced as were the flavors of the different flours. All the carbaholics in this household (the 9-month old included) loved this bread! This will definitely be a recipe that I will revisit in the near future.

If you are new to artisan bread baking, this would be a good recipe for you!

Country Bread
adapted slightly from Baking with Julia

For the sponge:
1 ½ cups water (105-115 degrees)
2 ½ teaspoons instant yeast
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup rye flour

For the dough:
1 teaspoon instant yeast
1 cup water (105-115 degrees)
3 ½ to 4 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour (or more white flour if you do not have any)
1 tablespoon salt
The sponge from above

To make the sponge, put 1/4 cup water into a mixer bowl and sprinkle with the yeast.  Stir to mix in the yeast and allow it to sit for about 5 minutes, until it gets creamy.  Add the rest of the water.  Stir the three flours together and add them gradually to the yeast mixture. Cover the sponge with plastic wrap and allow to rest at room temperature for 6 to 8 hours or refrigerate overnight.  If you refrigerate, remove the bowl from the refrigerator at least an hour before you intend to work with the dough to allow it to warm up. I prefer the overnight rest because it allows the sourdough flavor to really be pronounced in the final product.

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.  With the mixer on low speed, gradually add 2 cups of the flour mixture to the yeast.  Mix for about 3 minutes and then incorporate the yeast mixture.  Sprinkle the salt over the dough and mix it in.  Work the remaining flour mixture into the dough, mixing until the dough begins to clean the sides of the bowl.  You may not need all the flour or you may need a bit more depending on the humidity. Turn the mixer up to medium and allow it to knead the dough for 10 minutes.  The dough will be satiny and a bit tacky.

Form the dough into a ball and place in a lightly oiled bowl, turning gently to coat. Cover tightly with plastic and allow to proof at room temperature for 1 1/2 - 2 hours.

While the dough is rising, line a colander with an 8-inch diameter with a linen towel that has been lightly dusted with flour (or prepare a cloche or banneton if you have one!).

Once the dough has risen, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and pat it into a flat circle.  Fold the edges into the center and press with the heel of your hand.  Then flip the dough over and tuck in the edges making a firm round ball.  Repeat this pattern (flatten, fold, flip and tuck) 4 times and then lay the dough smooth side down in the banneton/basket.  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.

About 30 minutes before you are ready to bake, preheat the oven to 425 degrees with a rack set in the lower third of the oven with a baking stone in the center. Cut a large piece of parchment and place on a large cutting board. Carefully flip your loaf onto the parchment and quickly slash a couple slits (about 1/2 inch deep) across the top. Carefully slide the piece of parchment off the cutting board and onto your hot, preheated baking stone in the oven. Spray the oven a couple times with water and quickly shut the door, immediately reducing the heat to 400 degrees. Allow the loaf to bake for 60-70 minutes, or until the loaf registers an internal temperature of 200 degrees on an instant-read thermometer. My loaf finished at 60 minutes exactly.

Allow the loaf to cool completely before slicing and enjoying!


  1. Definitely better late than never. Especially with this bread! Glad you got to make it too. Great looking loaf! This really was a good recipe and so simple. I loved this bread. It was good toasted a few days later too.

  2. My 9 month old is a carbaholic too. =) He loves homemade baguettes, probably his favorite food!

  3. Great looking bread. This was so good. Love the crust on this.

  4. Beautiful looking loaf. I just finished the last of the bread today. It was quite tasty toasted and topped with avocado.

  5. Very lovely result - glad it worked out for you :-)

  6. Your bread looks perfect. It does taste good especially if you toast it and have some with fruit preserve.

  7. Monica, can this bread be baked on a pan/cookie sheet if I don't have a baking stone?

    1. Absolutely! Make sure to use one of those all-Aluminum baking sheets, place it upside-down in the oven, and preheat it in the oven for about 15-20 minutes before transferring the unbaked loaf onto it. It should crisp up the bottom similar to a baking stone. I actually use a baking sheet in this way when making pita because my baking stone is circular and it makes it difficult to bake more than two pita breads at a time.