This Italian country loaf is inspired by the ubiquitous loaves we made at Figs and kept always at the ready for hungry customers. I have fond memories of poaching portions of fresh loaves and making the most incredible sandwiches in the restaurant kitchen.
This is an extremely easy loaf of bread to make, but baked on the Baking Steel, it has a crusty, inimitable texture that will fill you with pride: you won’t believe you were able to attain this crust at home! It’s perfect for sandwiches, served warm with olive oil for dipping.
Country Bread Boule Recipe
Recipe from Baking With Steel
Makes one 10-inch loaf
500 grams (3½ cups) bread flour
16 grams (1 tablespoon) fine sea salt
1 grams (1/4 teaspoons) active dry yeast
400 grams (1-3/4 cups) water (105 degrees F)
- In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and yeast.
- Slowly add the water, and mix with a wooden spoon to just combine.
- Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface and knead for 5-6 minutes by hand (alternately, you can mix for 3-4 minutes on medium speed in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook). You want to remove any dry clumps and form a nice, tight ball. Place in a lightly-oiled bowl, cover with a damp kitchen towel or plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature for 24 hours.
- Turn the risen dough mixture out onto a floured work surface.
- With floured hands, shape the dough into a large ball by folding the sides in. Place the ball, seam side up, in a floured bread basket and cover with a damp towel. Let rest for 2 more hours.
- Halfway through the resting period, position a rack in the middle position of your oven and place the Baking Steel on top. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F for 45-60 minutes.
- Turn the dough onto a lightly floured pizza peel, seam side down. Make 2-3 slits across the dough, cutting ⅛ inch deep with a bread lame or razor blade.
- Use the pizza peel to launch the dough onto your Baking Steel. Bake for 20-25 minutes, rotating halfway to ensure even baking. Remove from the oven with a pizza peel, and transfer to a wire rack to let cool completely before serving.
- Store in a paper bag at room temperature for up to 3 days, or freeze up to 1 month.