Traditional home-made bread that turns out a crispy tasty crust with a delicate soft interior.
yeast, active dry
flour, unbleached all-purpose
whole wheat flour
In a large bowl, dissolve the yeast in the water.
Mix the 2 flours and stir them in to make a soft dough.
Knead 10 minutes by hand, or 4 minutes in a heavy duty mixer with a dough hook.
Oil a clean bowl and set the dough in it, cover tightly with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled in bulk.
(In the traditional warm place, this will take about 2 hours.
However, a cooler temperature will do as long as the dough has enough time to rise, including overnight in the refrigerator.)
If the dough is ready sooner than it is needed, punch it down and refrigerate it or let it rise slowly again at room temperature until ready to use.
Rub 2 to 3 tablespoons flour into a lintless dish towel and set the towel on a baking sheet.
When the dough has completed its rising, punch it down, turn it out onto a floured work surface, and flatten it into an oblong about 8 inches wide, 10 inches long, and ¼ inch thick.
It will still be very soft, but try to use a minimum of additional flour in handling it.
Roll the dough tight, jelly-roll fashion, into a cylindrical shape.
Flatten this to about 1-inch thick and roll it again.
(This activates the web of gluten that will keep the loaf from flattening out in the oven.)
FOR A ROUND LOAF, tuck both ends of the cylinder under to meet in the center, pinching to seal them.
Roll the dough around the work surface under your hands, to shape it into a smooth ball about 5 inches in diameter.
FOR AN OBLONG LOAF, roll the dough under your hands into a fat cigar shape, extending it to about 10 inches in length.
Set the loaf on the floured towel and fold the ends of the towel loosely around it.
Put the covered loaf, on its baking sheet, in a warm place to rise for 1 hour.
Preheat an oven lined with baking tiles to 400℉ (200℃).
Have a water-filled sprayer handy.
Slide your hand under the towel, pick up the loaf, and gently deposit it upside down on the tiles.
Spray water into the oven before closing the door, and spray twice more at 2-minute intervals.
Bake for 50 minutes or until golden brown.
The bread should have a hollow sound when you knock on its bottom.
First published: 1996-01-27 last updated: 2015-06-18