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  • Writer's pictureSusie Csorsz Brown

Hearth Bread

Bread -- especially yeasted bread -- is always intimidating to novice bakers. Bread is really just an amalgam of flour, water, and salt. And, of course, yeast. It isn't hard. Good bread takes patience. The rewards are amazing. I hope you try this recipe.


You don't have to use rye flour, but it adds a nice earthy yumminess. Also, if you do not have bread flour, you can make this using regular all purpose flour, as well. It just won't be quite as chewy.


This makes 2 good sized boules. You can wrap it carefully and air-tight in plastic and save it for the next day, or you can slice it up, slide it into a freezer bag and then enjoy it piece by piece. Or you can share. Your friends would love this option.


Hearth Bread


Yield 2 boules, about 16 servings


Ingredients


Starter


2/3 cup cool water (about 65°F)

1/2 cup bread flour

1/2 cup rye flour

1/8 teaspoon instant yeast


Bread


all of the starter (above)

1 1/2 cup cool water (about 65°F)

4 cups (480g) bread flour

1 cup (120g) rye flour

1 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast

2 1/2 teaspoons table salt


Directions


To make the starter: Weigh the flour, or measure it by gently spooning it into a measuring cup and sweeping off the excess. Combine the flour, water, and yeast. Cover the container and allow to rest for 12 to 16 hours at room temperature. It should be doubled in size, and filled with large bubbles. Hint: If you have the counter space, do this in the bowl in which you will eventually make the bread.


To make the dough: Add the water to the starter. Weigh the flour, or measure it by gently spooning it into a measuring cup and sweeping off the excess. Add the flour, mix to combine, cover the bowl, and allow the mixture to rest for 20 minutes to allow the flour to absorb the liquid and the gluten to start its development. Add the yeast and salt, and knead the dough until it's fairly smooth, about 5 to 7 minutes by hand or 3 to 4 minutes using a stand mixer set at medium-low speed.


Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover the bowl, and allow the dough to rise at room temperature for 1 1/2 - 2 hours. Turn the dough every 30 minutes during the rising time by gently folding all four sides into the middle, and turning the dough over.


Line 2 heavy duty 9-inch cake pans with parchment or sprinkle with cornmeal. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface, divide it in half. Shape each into a ball by pulling the edges into the middle, stuffing the edges in until you have a lovely round shape (your boule). Place the boule smooth side down into the prepared cake pan. Repeat with the remaining dough.


Loosely cover the boules and allow to rise at room temperature for 1 1/2 to 2 hours; they should be puffy but not doubled. About 30 minutes before the boules are finished rising, preheat the oven to 425°F and place a baking stone on the center rack.


Slide the pans into the oven, on the stone. Throw 3 large ice cubes on the baking stone near the pan, shut the oven door and bake for 30 to 35 minutes; throw in 3 more ice cubes three times during the first 10 minutes of baking. Once the loaf is deep golden brown, crusty and sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom, it is fully baked. Remove the loaf from the oven, transfer it to a rack, and allow it to cool completely.


Store leftover bread wrapped in plastic for 2 to 3 days at room temperature; or in the freezer for up to 3 months.

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