Friday, October 21, 2011

Making Crusty Bread

Crusty Bread

Have you noticed how expensive a crusty loaf of bread can be at your local bakery or even the grocery store?  This time of year I really like to have a crusty loaf of bread to serve along with a hot bowl of soup or a pasta dish.  I'm working on finding a recipe to make at home that delivers on flavor while not taking all day to make.  Is that possible?  I just don't know, but I'm experimenting and will share the results with you here.

Last week I found a recipe that claimed three hours start to finish with 20 minutes of active involvement.  I decided to help that along by adapting the recipe for my bread machine.  Here's how it all worked out.

Bread Ingredients
Crusty Bread
Print Recipe
  • 1 1/2 cups slightly warm water, about 90 degrees
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 3 cups bread flour
  • 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 2 teaspoons bread machine yeast
  • Cornstarch for dusting

Add the ingredients to your bread machine in the order listed.  Set the machine on the dough cycle.  The dough is going to be very sticky.  Check the kneading cycle to make sure the flour is being fully incorporated.

Add Ingredients to the Bread Machine
At the end of the cycle (mine is 120 minutes) remove the dough to a large bowl.  If you have a scraper tool you'll want to use it for this next step.  With the scraper tool, fold the dough over onto itself, cover the bowl with a dish towel and let it rest for 15 minutes.  Do this three more times, for a total of four folding and resting steps.

At the end of the last rest period,  turn your oven on to 400 degrees F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and dust the paper with cornstarch.  Flour your hands and turn the dough out onto the parchment paper, forming the dough into a ball.  After all the prior folding and resting the dough should now be stretchy with big bubbles.  Cover the dough with a towel and let rest for another fifteen minutes.

The Final Rest
Spritz the loaf with water and place on the center rack of your oven.  Bake for 25 minutes, or until the loaf is browned and sounds hollow when tapped.  Cool completely on a rack.  I rubbed the crust with a tablespoon of butter to make the crust shiny and chewy.

The Baked Loaf
The texture and flavor of this bread were both very good.  I'll be making it a few more times to see if I deliver consistent results with this recipe.  In the meantime, give this a try if you have an afternoon that would allow for bread making.  If you start this around 1:00 p.m. you'll have a crusty loaf for dinner.

Nice Texture and Chewy Crust



  1. I love a nice crusty loaf. I think the general trick with bread is that, as you've noticed, you have to start early. Not that you have to work for all that time, but just to give it the time to rise.

  2. You are so right, Rachel. With bread, patience most certainly is a virtue.


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