When I was a youth learning to bake I was super eager to learn how to bake bread. My first attempt was an awful roll recipe that my mom used to allow me to make for family functions and holidays (I'm sorry fam). I think there's still a photo that exists of me making those terrible rolls while wearing a t-shirt that says "OMG!". These rolls were pale, overly yeasty, and always a bit too doughy in the middle. So yes, I HAVE COME A LONG WAY.
This recipe for a simple rustic boule loaf is the exact opposite of my terrible rolls. Crusty, golden, malty, and chewy; this is a genuinely delicious loaf of bread.
There are a few things you need to bake bread:
First off, invest in a decent kitchen scale. You can't accurately bake bread without weighing your ingredients. I'm sorry - those are the rules, and anyone who consumes your perfectly balanced rustic loaf will thank you. I also recommend you purchase a boule proofing basket - this isn't necessary but it does make it easier to shape the loaf.
Bread baking requires lots of humidity, and baking the bread in a hot Dutch oven increases the moisture. It allows the bread to rise and develop a really nice crunchy crust. I use a 5-quart oval Le Creuset.
Breadmaking is intimidating, and I won't lie - this recipe takes about 21 hours. But don't worry - most of the time is passive. There are approximately 10 minutes of weighing and mixing ingredients, 10 minutes of dough kneading, and 20 hours for total dough proofing. The key to an awesome crusty bread is a little bit of kneading and an incredibly long rise.
- 495 grams all-purpose flour
- 8 grams kosher salt
- 6 grams instant yeast yeast
- 12-ounce bottle (I love using La Fin Du Monde by Unibroue. It's a Trappist-style beer with excellent flavor. I love how it makes the bread taste super malty. If you can't find La Fin Du Monde, try a hefeweizen or any beer that's bottle brewed because in my experience, those make the best-tasting bread.
Mix the flour, salt, and yeast into the biggest bowl you have. Then pour in the beer and stir everything together with a wooden spoon. Once everything is well combined, get your hands in there and give it a knead for about 5 minutes. By the end of the 5 minutes, you'll have a reasonably smooth ball of dough. Next, place the bread in a large container with lid - alternatively you can use the same bowl you mixed the dough just cover it tightly in plastic wrap. You want a warm and moist environment for your beloved dough ball. Let that beautiful ball of dough rest in a warm room for about 18 hours.
After the 18 hours are up, dump your dough on a prepared non-stick well-floured surface to shape your loaf on. Pull your dough gently from the bowl and quickly shape it into a nice round ball. Now, either set the dough into the flour dusted boule basket or place the dough seam side down on a sheet of parchment paper. Cover the dough with a basket cover or damp kitchen towel and let rest for 2 hours.
When 1 hour 30 minutes of the 2 hours is up, place your Dutch oven with its lid on into your oven and preheat to 450 degrees. You want the Dutch oven to get very hot. Once thoroughly preheated, pull out and place the Dutch oven on a heat-safe surface near your dough. To remove the bread from the basket, flip the basket over upside down onto a cutting board covered in parchment paper. Score the top of the loaf with a sharp knife.
Gently pick up the parchment paper and carefully place it into the hot Dutch oven. Return the Dutch oven with the dough back into the hot oven and bake for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, remove the Dutch oven's lid and continue baking for another 20 minutes.
The loaf should be a deep golden brown when it's finished, and the internal temperature should be about 200 degrees. When the bread is done, remove it from the Dutch oven and place it on a wire rack.
For the love of God, let the bread rest. I usually let my bread rest for a full hour before cutting. I know this is seriously difficult, but it's so important. Your loaf of bread is still cooking until it's completely cool, and letting it rest will give you such a better-textured crumb.