I’ve chosen this french bread as the recipe for my family’s daily bread. It’s a good artisanal bread for a beginner baker. You still need good flour, instant yeast, a mixer (optional, but recommended), concentration and time, time, time. But there isn’t much shaping and slicing and trickery to this bread. It’s not fragile like a ciabatta or hard to shape and slice like a baguette. It requires no sourdough starter or endless cold fermenting.
It looks gorgeous, keeps well, and makes for some killer sandwiches, or bruschetta or simple buttered toast.
Scroll down for some yummy sandwich ideas with this bread.
adapted from Jeffrey Hamelman ‘Bread’
makes 2 medium loaves
For the poolish (make the night before):
1 lb or 3 5/8 cups bread flour, such as King Arthur
2 cups water
1/8 tsp instant yeast, such as SAF yeast
For the final dough:
1 lb or 3 5/8 cups bread flour
6.1 oz or 3/4 cup water
1 tbs salt
1 1/2 tsp instant yeast
1) To make the poolish ahead of time: Add water, then yeast, then flour to a large mixing bowl and mix till smooth. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave overnight–at least 12 hours and up to 16 hours.
2) Using a mixer, add the poolish from the night before, the final dough flour and water to a mixing bowl. Don’t add the second yeast or the salt yet. Mix on first speed briefly—until everything is pulled together into a big shaggy lump.
3) Cover with plastic wrap and leave to rest for 20 or 30 minutes.
4) Sprinkle the salt and yeast over the dough and mix on the second speed for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes. The dough should look more like bread dough now.
5) Cover and let rise for a total of 70 minutes or longer, with two folding times. Make the first fold after 25 minutes of rising. Scrape the dough onto a clean floured counter and pull one third of the dough out and fold over. Then turn and fold the other side the same way. Repeat with the top and bottom sides. Don’t rip the dough. Just gently stretch and fold. Cover and leave to rise.
6) Repeat the same folding technique after 50 minutes. You should notice the dough becoming softer, airier and more pliant.
7) Let rest for another few minutes (Or longer. I had to leave this bread for an extra hour while I ran an errand and it was fine.) and then scrape the dough out onto a floured counter. Gently spread it out a little so that you can slice evenly down the middle creating two equally shaped ovalish loaves.
8) Cover and leave to proof for 25 minutes. Ideally in a warm location.
9) Preheat the oven to 460F and if you have a baking or pizza stone, put it into the oven.
10) Gently flip the two loaves of dough over so that flour sides are up. Slash quickly down the center of each. This will allow you to control the way the dough expands in the oven.
11) Pre-steam the oven before you add the dough. You can use a spray bottle or put in a little pan of water. If you have a peel, use this to transfer the loaves to the hot oven. I do not, so my technique is to quickly pull out the hot baking stone, transfer the loaves to it and quickly put it back into the oven.
12) Add a little more steam as soon as you put the cold bread dough into the hot oven. Bake at 460F for about 35 minutes. After 20 minutes, open the oven door a crack to finish baking the bread in a dry oven.
I had two lovely loaves, but five kids were in my kitchen having just finished playing in the snow and they ate an entire loaf of bread themselves! This is the one I kept for myself:
This beautiful bread makes me so happy. Damn it looks good.
Hubby pestered me (Not really! He shoveled our sidewalk and driveway for four hours and I offered to make him some food) for some grub and I made him not one, but two sandwiches with my almost too beautiful to eat pain rustique bread. It had to be two because he wanted my totally-should-be-world-famous fried egg and onion sandwich but he wanted it with caramelized onions. He has fallen hard for caramelized onions. I’m sorry chipotle in adobo sauce, caramelized onions are my new secret weapon. So anyway, I didn’t really want to put the two together and decided on splitting them between two different awesome sandwiches. This one, the diner-style fried egg sandwich I invented when I was sixteen, has been impressing people (it’s true!) ever since. Especially on a bagel.
Fried egg, cheddar and onion sandwich
This is actually awesome
1/8 or 1/4 sliced white onion
1 bagel or 2 slices good rustic bread
mature or sharp cheddar
a lot of butter
hot mustard or whole grain mustard
fresh ground salt and pepper
1) Melt a good chunk of butter in a small fying pan and gently fry the onion till cooked and browning.
2) Push the onion to one side of the frying pan, add a little more butter, and crack two eggs in the pan. Add salt and pepper and break the yolks. Flip over and cook the egg thoroughly. Turn off the heat and add slices of cheddar on the egg to melt.
3) Toast the bread or the bagel.
4) Slather the bread with plenty of mayo and spicy or wholegrain mustard, then add the egg, cheese and onions and another grind of pepper if you like.
Brie, caramelized onion and red pepper jam grilled cheese
2 slices pain rustique or other awesome bread
Sliced brie, enough to cover the bread
red pepper jam or thai chili sauce
1) Add all the fillings to the bread and then generously butter each outside slice of bread. Grilled cheese is not the time to skimp on the butter
2) Cook each side of the sandwich till golden brown and inside melted and heavenly. Arugula or rocket lettuce would be great in this sandwich as well.