Bread making WIN

Hurrah. I found this recipe when I was searching around for cheesemaking information, strangely enough. This recipe comes from a website that I found when I was trying to work out how to make a cheese press at home but it was this recipe for Pane Rustica that caught my eye. I often buy this beautifully, chewy bread from my local greengrocer-I like the holey, spongey texture, especially rubbed with garlic and served toasted with a bowl of yummy vegetable soup.

The other great thing about this bread? Well I don’t know about you chaps, but I am not able to drag myself out of bed early these days and hop straight into a bout of bread-making at 5am so that we can have a delicious hot loaf for brekkie. I am of course woken up early by Little D, but at the moment the only time any of us gets any more than a couple of hours in an undisturbed block is in the morning, so I will gladly sacrifice fresh bread for a refreshed me. Although now I have found this recipe I am happy to say that going without is unnecessary-this is bread that you can start the night before and do only a little bit of work on in the morning. Before you know it there will be hot bread ready to take any of the 10 different types of marmalade you will no doubt have on hand after the last few months of posts from me (hah!)

The only problem I had with this recipe in its original form was the spreadsheet-style set-up, which became infinitely harder to read when I had printed it out. But the recipe on the website also has blow-by-blow photographs if you want to check out what a step should look like-so if my pics aren’t enough for you, you know where to go for help.

But really, it is so simple-you’ll be fine. Promise.


3 cups breadmaking flour

1.5 cups warm water

1 to 1.5 teaspoons salt

1/4 teaspoon active dry yeast

extra flour for dusting


the usual suspects: large mixing bowl, measuring cups and spoons

clean fine weave tea towel/dishcloth or similar (I actually think some calico would be best-must have a sooth, tightly woven surface, nothing fuzzy!)

large cast-iron pot or dutch oven-I used my Chasseur casserole stock-pot thing (don’t know the real name. You get the drift. This may work with a large ceramic pot-you’d have to try it. It MUST be something with a lid, as you are trying to preserve high humidity levels around the bread while it bakes.


Mix yeast with 3tbsp of the warm water and leave for a moment while you dissolve the salt in the rest of the 1.5 cups of water in your mixing bowl. Add the yeast mixture to the salted water.

Stir in the flour-you will have a very moist and sticky dough. Cover your bowl with clingwrap and a tea towel and leave to sit in a not-too-drafty spot for 12-18 hours.

the wet, sticky dough before it goes to bed for the night...

the wet, bubbly, sticky dough after a night of beauty sleep.

The next day you should have a nice bowl of bubbly dough. Turn this out onto a floured surface, sprinkle more flour on top and with floured fingers, fold the dough over on itself a few times. This is not kneading-don’t be tempted to go overboard! Lightly dust the dough with flour.

dough ready to be folded-remember, no need for kneading!

dough ready to be folded-remember, no need for kneading!

Next, get your cloth and liberally dust it with flour.  And I mean liberally-the recipe says to be generous and I didn’t use quite enough, so the dough stuck to the cloth in patches during the rising. Don’t be like me-use lots of flour. And then some. Put the bread in the centre of the cloth and fold the cloth over the bread a couple of times-only lightly, you need to leave the bread enough room to rise. Leave the bread to rise in a draft-free place. (I generally put mine in the microwave on a wooden board. I obviously don’t turn the microwave on, but it is well insulated in there and sees to work well.

see how much flour is on that prrofing cloth? well you need more. trust me.

see how much flour is on that proofing cloth? well you need more. trust me.

After 1.5-2 hours turn your oven on to preheat at 230 degrees C/ 450 degrees F and put your pot in there to preheat too-lid and all.

After another 1.5-2 hours the dough should have doubled in size (mine hadn’t quite doubled, but it had definitely risen quite a bit) so get the hot pot out of the oven, slip your hand under the dough and the proofing cloth and pick it up, then flip the dough over into the pot. If any of it is stuck to the towel, don’t freak out! Just get a toothless knife and, while pulling the towel up and away, gently separate the cloth from the dough. And if your dough is all mooshed up on one side of the pot just shake the pot gently to centre the dough. It goes without saying that you have to be careful not to burn yourself while you are messing around with getting the dough into the hot pot. Good luck with that. Hmm.

in the pot, ready to go

in the pot, ready to go

Put the lid on the pot and pop it into the oven. After 30 minutes take the lid off and leave the bread to cook for another 10-15 minutes and …

VOILA! Pane Rustica.

and POW-it's done!

and POW-it's done!

Nice one-well done you.

I am dancing round the kitchen with glee before while this shot is taken!

I am dancing round the kitchen with glee before while this shot is taken!

with a yummy bowl of my 'fauxnestroni'. what are YOU having for dinner tonight?

with a yummy bowl of my 'fauxnestroni'. what are YOU having for dinner tonight?

~ by Little Red Hen on June 6, 2009.

4 Responses to “Bread making WIN”

  1. oooh, it looks so professional!

  2. LRH… now to be known as Super Chicken… that is my all time favorite bread too, and for years I’ve been quizzing bakers about that chewy texture, and all they’ve been able to tell me is “it’s about the steam…”. Can’t wait to try it. Had the Ritch here for a 10 day onlslaught. Survived. Just. Will write with details. Much love. Tim.

    • Glad I may have solved the ‘steam riddle’ for you! 10 days with Lil’ Ritch…you must be needing a good lie down after that. Any mischief? Wait-don’t tell me, I bet I can guess. Can’t wait for the story-and I’ll update YOU on my catch up with Megs (and Lene and Eddie) last week too x

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