Hearth Bread

I made an angry-looking bread.

A photo posted by sarah (@braisinhussy) on

DANG IT ALL TO HECK. This is an old photo of when I made this bread, and NOT the version I made tonight, because that got burnt. I’m annoyed with myself.

Recipe from King Arthur’s Flour. It’s a good bread recipe. Don’t burn it.

Note: this recipe makes two loaves. I’ve made it as one large boule (see above photo), but I like it better in two baguettey shapes.

1 packet active dry yeast or 2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast
1 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp table salt
2 cups lukewarm water
5 1/2 to 6 cups AP flour

Using 5 1/2 cups of flour, mix all the ingredients together in a bowl. Mix thoroughly until the dough pulls away from the side of the bowl. Turn dough out onto floured surface. (I keep the remaining half cup of flour sitting to the side for dusting and extra integration if necessary.)

Knead dough for 5–7 minutes, sprinkling with tiny bits of the reserved half cup of flour when needed. Roll into a ball. Grease the bowl with some oil then use what’s left on your hands to grease the dough ball. Cover and let rise in a warm, draft-free place until doubled, one to two hours.

Line baking sheets with parchment paper (I just used one, but you run the risk of your loaves rising into one another). Turn dough out onto work surface and gently deflate. Cut in half. Shape each half in a sort of long oval. Place on baking sheet. Let rest 5 minutes. During this time, boil some water and adjust your oven racks to the lowest and middle positions.

Slash each top diagonally three times and pat with cold water.

Fill an 8-inch baking dish 1-inch deep with the boiling water. Place on the lowest rack (or if you don’t have a heating coil on the bottom of your oven, place on the floor of the oven).

Slide baking sheet into cold oven. Turn the oven to 450 and set the timer for 30 minutes. Check loaves at 30 minutes, crust should be well browned and the internal temperature at least 190F. May take up to 45 minutes.

Turn off oven, remove baking sheet and carefully remove very hot dish of very hot water. Take the loaves off the baking sheet and return to oven, placing directly on rack. Leave the door ajar and let oven and loaves slowly cool down together. This results in excellent crust (it also results in burnt crust if you close the door, so don’t do that). After about a half hour, remove loaves to a rack to finish cooling. Cool completely before storing.

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