Tuesday, January 14, 2014

TWD Country Bread

Tuesdays with Dorie ~ Country Bread
Here I am, and it’s Tuesday! Not just any Tuesday but, Tuesday with Dorie! Wow! It’s been a long time! Where have I been for the past several months?  I guess it’s fair to say, life just got in the way! I’m really glad to be back this week though!  It’s been cold…very cold in my neck of the woods! It’s the perfect time to be baking bread, and this weeks pick from Baking with Julia, is for the wonderful Country Bread contributed by Joe Ortiz. 

This bread has a crunchy crust and a tight crumb…perfect for toast or sandwiches
For this bread, you first create a sponge consisting of three different types of flour ~ all-purpose or bread, whole wheat and rye ~ warm water and yeast. Late in the afternoon, the day before I intended to bake the bread, I mixed the ingredients, to the consistency of a thick pancake batter. I then covered the bowl with plastic wrap, and gave the sponge an overnight rest in the fridge. In the morning, I removed the sponge from the fridge and let it rest at room temperature for several hours. When I was ready to make the dough, I mixed 1 teaspoon of yeast into ½ cup of warm water to proof. I then added the remaining water to the sponge, along with the yeast mixture and 3 cups of flour. I used my stand mixer to knead this bread, and it did a great job.  Now it’s time for the first rise. While it’s rising, it's time to prepare for the second rise in a “Banneton”, which is a round proofing basket that wicks moisture from the bread. I see one in my future, but for now a colander lined with a floured linen towel worked perfectly.  Let rise for the second time, and when it has doubled in size it’s time to bake.  Spritz the oven with water, slash the bread a few times and put it into the preheated oven on a baking stone.  Spritz the oven again before closing the door.  
The best part of this bread, besides the delicious flavor, was the most wonderful aroma that filled my kitchen while it was baking.  Nothing quite like a marvelous loaf of bread baking to warm you on a cold day. So very comforting! Happy Tuesday everyone….good to be back!


The sponge
The next day….kneading the dough with my mixer
First rise 
Warm and comforting
Enjoying mine for breakfast with some fig butter….wonderfull

Country Bread by contributing baker Joe Ortiz

Prep Time: 2½ hrs. + overnight rest
Cook Time: 60-70 minutes
makes 1 large round loaf

the sponge:
1½ c. warm water (105°-115° F)
2½ tsp. active dry yeast
1 c. bread flour or unbleached all-purpose flour
½ c. rye flour
½ c. whole wheat flour

the dough:
1 tsp. active dry yeast
1 c. warm water
all of the sponge
3-3½ c. bread flour
1 c. whole wheat flour
1 Tbs. salt

Make the sponge (the evening before you want to bake the bread):
Put ¼ cup of the warm water into a bowl and sprinkle with the yeast; stir to mix. Allow the yeast to rest for about 5 minutes, until it turns creamy. Add remaining water. Stir the flours together and add them to the yeast mixture a little at a time, stirring with a wooden spoon until sponge has the consistency of pancake batter. I would call it a thick batter.
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator overnight. Plan on pulling this out of the fridge 1 hour before you're ready to continue with your recipe. I pulled mine out first thing in the morning the day I planned on baking the bread.  So it sat for about 2 hours before I mixed the bread dough.

Make the bread (day of baking):
Be sure to pull the sponge from the refrigerator and allow it to sit at room temperature for an hour before continuing on with the dough.
Dissolve the yeast in ½ cup of the warm water. Scrape the sponge into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment and add the other ½ cup of warm water to that bowl. Cobine 3 cups of the bread flour with the whole wheat flour.
Gradually add 2 cups of the flour mixture into the mixer bowl, while it runs on medium-low speed. Once it has mixed for ~3 minutes, add the yeast mixture until incorporated. Sprinkle the salt over the dough and allow it to mix in. Work the remaining flour mixture in until the dough starts to "clean" the sides of the bowl (if you need to, add a tad more bread flour until this happens). Increase the mixer speed to medium and allow to knead for ~10 minutes or until the dough begins to look smooth and satiny; it should feel slightly tacky (almost enough to be sticky, but not quite).
Form dough into a loose ball and place in a lightly oiled bowl. Cover with plastic and allow dough to proof at room temperature until doubled in volume, 1½-2 hours.
Prepare a banneton (measuring 8" across base) or a large basket or colander lined with a linen towel rubbed with flour. Set aside until needed.
Turn dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and pat it into a flat round with your fingers and palms. Fold the four "edges" in and press down with the heel of your hand, then flip the dough over and work it against the counter with your cupped hands to form a tight ball. Repeat this process (flattening, folding, tightening) four more times. Turn the loaf over and lay it into the prepared banneton or colander lined with towel, smooth side down.
Cover with plastic wrap that has been lightly oiled on the surface facing the dough. Let it rise at room temperature until it has risen over the edge of the banneton. This could take anywhere from 30 minutes to 1½ hours.
About 30 minutes before you're ready to bake the loaf, position an oven rack in the lower third of your oven and set a baking stone on it. Preheat oven to 425° F. Have a spray bottle filled with water ready.
When the dough has risen fully, sprinkle a baker's peel or rimless baking sheet with cornmeal and carefully invert your risen dough onto it. Spray the oven walls with water and immediately close the door to trap the steam.
Score your bread a few times, making cuts ½"deep. Open the oven and slide the dough onto the baking stone, turn down the heat to 400° F, and quickly spray the oven walls again. Close oven quickly. Bake for 60-70 minutes, or until the crust is a deep golden color. The loaf will sound hollow when tapped on the bottom and should register at least 200° F when an instant-read thermometer is inserted into the center.
Remove loaf and allow to cool on a wire rack before cutting. Will keep at room temperature for ~3 days.  Wrapped tightly and frozen it will keep for a month (thaw, still wrapped, at room temperature).

Joe Ortiz in Baking with Julia

To see what the other members of Tuesdays with Dorie thought of this Country Bread visit BWJ~Tuesdays with Dorie.


  1. Wow! Your bread looks perfectly baked and delicious with the butter and jam-wishing this was in my kitchen waiting for me this morning!
    Happy New Year Kathy!!! It was great meeting you in Seattle and spending time together in SF- hope we can meet again one day soon ;-)

  2. Gorgeous photos of your Country Bread, Kathy! I was stuck with overhead lighting as it was past dark before we cut into the loaf. Regardless, it was absolutely delicious. :)

  3. Dear Kathy, It has been cold and damp here too. Though it is cozy and inviting weather for cooking.
    Fresh baked bread is a blessing to enjoy. I bet this was simply delicious.
    Blessings, Catherine xo

  4. Welcome back to you too and Happy New Year!!
    It's a beautiful bread to start the New Year!!!!
    Your bread looks awesome!! I love the last picture, a nice slice of bread with some fig butter...so yummy!!!! It makes me want to bite into...

  5. I love the light in your pictures, beautiful!

  6. It looks like we baked almost exactly the same loaf, Kathy!!! So glad you enjoyed this bread...and I agree about the heavenly aroma!

  7. Such a gorgeous loaf of bread your country bread turned out. It's always a god idea to start wit the sponge dough when baking a fabulous bread! Amazing photos, and I can actually smell the delicious aroma. Thanks for sharing the wonderful recipe, Kathy!

  8. Oh Kathy! Your bread looks heavenly! I made bread tonight. Now, don't get too excited, lol. It was so far off the the "real" bread you made. I just took mine out of the Pepperidge Farm loaf bag, put it in the oven for 12 minutes, no spraying involved but probably a good idea and wah lah, bread. It was okay I guess but, there was no heavenly scent to be had. Perhaps one day i will get past my yeastaphobia. Until then, I will just to have to settle for that heavenly bread aroma dancing in my head:)

    Thank you so much for sharing, Kathy...

  9. Kathy, that's a perfect country bread. Bread made with a starter does taste different!

  10. Your loaf looks wonderful. The last picture says it all.

  11. A beautiful loaf of bread. You did a wonderful job:)

  12. The bread looks great, especially with that fig butter on top! Glad to have you baking with us again!

  13. Great pics! Your bread looks so good!! This really is a great recipe. And I too see a Banneton in my future (hopefully on sale)!

  14. It's a beautiful loaf Kathy, it looks like it came from a fancy French bakery!

  15. Bread looks just right. We loved it, especially the crust.

  16. Your bread looks absolutely delicious! [Fig] butter makes everything better! Hope you get some relief from the cold soon.

  17. Your loaf of bread couldn't be more perfect and beautiful! I will definitely check out this recipe.

  18. Kathy - this bread is absolutely gorgeous. While so many things would taste great on top of it, my favorite way is just as Toad had it in Wind and the Willows - slathered with butter:

    "When the girl returned, some hours later, she carried a tray, with a cup of fragrant tea steaming on it; and a plate piled up with very hot buttered toast, cut thick, very brown on both sides, with the butter running through the holes in it in great golden drops, like honey from the honeycomb. The smell of that buttered toast simply talked to Toad, and with no uncertain voice; talked of warm kitchens, of breakfasts on bright frosty mornings, of cosy parlour firesides on winter evenings, when one's ramble was over and slippered feet were propped on the fender; of the purring of contented cats, and the twitter of sleepy canaries."

    ~ David

  19. What a gorgeous loaf of bread! I just got a bread machine and am having fun with it - so easy!

  20. Wow, your pictures shows what I call "the perfect breakfast".
    You've baked a beauty of a bread!

  21. Wooow....un pan perfecto se ve muy sabroso y bello,abrazos.

  22. Your bread is beautiful and I could almost smell it! I might be too lazy a breadmaker for this one though...

  23. Did you make or buy the fig butter? I've never had it but it looks delicious. Your bread looks great too!