Try my next-level recipe for crusty white bread – it takes a lot longer to prepare than my Bread From The Pot but the result will be the best loaf of bread you’ve baked at home.
Crusty BreadCourse: Breakfast-BrunchDifficulty: Medium
Takes a little longer to prepare but the result will be the best loaf of bread you’ve baked at home.
600 g / 21.2 oz all-purpose flour
390 g/ 13.8 oz water, cold
12 g / 0.4 oz salt
a small piece – about the size of a hazelnut – of fresh bakers’ yeast
cast-iron pot, a Römertopf or other terracotta pot with a lid
- Prepare the dough: Put flour in a large mixing bowl. From the measured-out water, set aside about 3 – 4 tablespoons and dissolve the yeast in it. Add salt to the rest of the water, dissolve the salt in it and add to the flour. Finally, add the dissolved yeast. Using your hand, combine all ingredients by kneading the dough until it is smooth and slightly sticky. If necessary scrape the sides of the bowl and incorporate the scrapings into the dough. Knead and form the dough into a tight ball then cover the bowl airtight with a lid or aluminum foil (the surface of the dough shouldn’t dry out). Set the dough aside to rest and mature for 24 hours at room temperature (at least 22°C / 72°F).
- Stretch and fold the dough: During those 24 hours stretch and fold your dough every 8 hours, the first time after 8 hours of resting and again after 16 hours of resting. To stretch and fold your dough first dip your hand in water. It will prevent the dough from sticking to your hand. Then push your hand deep under the dough, pull the dough to you, and fold it over the rest of the dough. Repeat the process from all sides until the whole dough is folded and lies round and tight in the bowl. After each stretching and folding cover the bowl again and set it aside.
- Form a loaf: Depending on the shape of the baking dish, form a round or oblong loaf and sprinkle it generously with flour. Place the dough, seam side down, in a proofing basket or a bowl lined with a dish towel and generously dusted with flour. Cover the basket with a clean dish towel and set aside for 1 hour to proof.
- Preheat the oven, with the pot in it, to 250°C / 485°F.
- Take the hot pot out of the oven, let the dough fall out of the basket directly into the pot, cover the pot with the lid, and put it back in the oven. Reduce the heat to 240°C / 465°F and bake for 45 minutes. Let the bread cool down completely on a cooling rack before slicing.
- If you like your crust a little darker, take off the lid for the last 10 – 15 minutes of baking time.