The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Rustic Country Bread

holds99's picture

I was thinking about one of the main objectives of TFL (encourage, support and assist new bakers) and with that in mind I decided to attempt a "tried and true" recipe that would perhaps be appealing to bakers just getting into artisan baking. I set out to make a bread that would be easy and as fail-safe as possible for entry-level bakers to produce. I chose the Rustic Country Bread recipe from King Arthur flour. The recipe is available on line at their website. I thought it would be a good recipe to introduce bakers who haven’t used or had experience with using a pre-ferment method (poolish) when making an “artisan” bread and because of its simplicity it’s a good one for new bakers to try. I used a Dutch oven for baking the bread, which pretty much eliminates the problems of moving the fermented loaf onto a stone and running the risk of having it sink or losing it completely. Anyway, here are the steps I followed. I made the dough per K.A. recipe using stretch and fold technique. Instead of dividing the dough into 2 boules, I kept it in 1 piece and made a large boule. After shaping the boule I placed it in large skillet, lined with parchment paper (make your parchment paper long enough so you will be able to have enough overhang on each side to enable you to pick up the boule and lift it up out of the skillet and place it into the Dutch oven without dropping it). I placed the skillet containing the boule in a plastic bag (you can alternatively cover it with film, stainless steel pot...whatever), closed the bag to let it rise until nearly doubled. An hour before baking I put the Dutch oven (empty) with the lid on into the oven and preheated the oven to 500 deg. F. After the boule had doubled in volume my wife helped me lift it out of the skillet (holding the ends of the parchment paper) and place it into the preheated Dutch oven. I scored/slashed the top of the boule with 3 long slashes, put the lid on the Dutch oven, placed it in the oven (be extremely careful here, you’re dealing with a 500 deg. cast iron pot) and closed the oven door.  I immediately turned the oven temp. down to 450 deg. F and let it bake for 30 minutes, then took the top off the Dutch oven for the final 10-15 minutes of baking. Don't forget to remove the lid, so your loaf will brown nicely.  Because this is a double size boule, you’ll have to bake this one about 10 minutes longer than the smaller boule. Using a thermometer inserted into the boule check for an internal temp. of 210 deg. F. If the top is getting too brown and it still hasn’t reach 210 deg. F. internal temp. put the lid back on and let it go for a while longer. Remove boule from Dutch oven, picking up the parchment paper edges, and place it on a wire rack to cool for a couple of hours.  DO NOT cut until completly cool.  So, here are the results.

 Rustic Country Boule baked in Dutch Oven

Rustic Country Bread - No 1: Rustic Country Boule baked in Dutch Oven

 Rustic Country Bread baked in Dutch oven.

Rustic Country Bread - No 2: Rustic Country Bread baked in Dutch oven.

 Rustic Country Bread - Interior/Crumb.

Rustic Country Bread - No 3: Rustic Country Bread - Baked in Dutch oven - Interior/Crumb.

holds99's picture

K.A. Rustic Country Boule-1K.A. Rustic Country Boule-1

 InteriorK.A. Rustic Country Boule-2: Interior

 Rustic Roll + InteriorK.A. Rustic Country Rolls-4: Rustic Roll + Interior

I recently purchased a King Arthur DVD; The Bakers Forum - Artisan Breads, from the K.A. website.  Inside the DVD case there was a recipe for K.A Rustic Country Bread, so I decided to give it try.  The recipe uses a poolish and is fairly easy to make.  I doubled the batch size and made 2 boules and 11 - 3.5 oz. rolls using the shaping technique shown in Mark's video.  I had previously had some problems with shaping and maintaining a nice shape especially with rolls.  This was probably due to applying too much pressure and not having a flour free, dry counter to get good traction, as he recommends, for the shaping.  my old way may have caused deflating some of the gas from the dough during shaping which inhibited the rise and oven spring.  This time I followed the technique in Mark's video and the results were far better than I had been able to previously achieve.  Anyway, I was pleased with the results, just need to do the drill more often.  This dough was made using K.A. bread flour, which gave me less holes than I would have liked, but the crust, interior and taste is good.  I used generously floured, unlined willow bannetons for the boules and baked both boules and rolls on parchment lined baking pans on top of a preheated stone with steam.  Next time I will make the recipe useing K.A. French style flour.  I have 3 bags in the freezer which I ordered from K.A. and have been experimenting with for baguettes/batards.  I'm hoping the French style flour, which contains less protein (I think it's 9% vs. 11-11.5 for A.P and bread flour) than all-purpose and bread flours, will, with more folding during the bulk fermentation stage, give me slightly larger holes in the interior.  I would welcome input from anyone who has any thoughts and/or experience using the French style flour or other similar flour for that matter.  For anyone new to bread baking I would really recommend trying the K.A. Rustic Country Bread as it is fairly simple and uses a poolish and its pretty easy to make if you follow the instructions carefully.  I would suggest scaling (weighing) the flour (I use 125 g. per cup) so that the dough is the right consistancy, fairly slack.  I personally want to thank Mark (and his wife, who is his videographer) again for so generously sharing his knowledge and expertise through their videos and Mark's postings on this site.  Much appreciated, Mark.


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