Jeffrey Hamelman’s Rustic Bread

When I hear “Rustic Bread,” I think of a bread with a hard crust and toasty flavor. The addition of small amounts of rye and whole wheat flour are just enough to give some extra nuttiness.

The measurements below are for two 1.5lb loaves. When I baked it I halved the recipe.

For the pre-ferment

16 oz (3 5/8C) bread flour
9.6oz (1.25C) water
.3oz (.5T) salt
1/8t instant yeast

-Disperse yeast in water, add flour and slowly mix until it comes together. It will be very stiff and floury, but keep gently mixing until it forms a dry dough. Let sit, covered, for 12-16 hours until ripe (when ripe it will be slightly puffed and smell HEAVENLY).

Final Dough

9.6oz (2.25C) bread flour
3.2oz (7/8C) whole-rye flour
3.2oz (7/8C) whole-wheat flour
12.5oz(1.5C) water
.3oz (.5T) salt
.5t instant yeast
25oz preferment (all of it)

1) Add all ingredients to mixing bowl except pre-ferment. Mix until dough comes together, then mix on first speed for 3 minutes, adding chunks of preferment as it mixes. Turn to second speed and mix for another 3 minutes. The dough should be pretty wet, but still have some nice gluten development. Basically, you wouldn’t want to touch this bread without a copious amount of flour on your hand.

2) Ferment for 2.5 hours, folding at the 50-minute and 140-minute mark (you’ll need lots of flour on the counter to make sure the dough doesn’t stick. when you fold, incorporating a light dusting of flour is okay, but you don’t want big chunks because it will ruin the texture of the bread’s interior)

3) After fermentation, divide into 1.5lb loaves, preshape each into a light ball, and cover for 10-20 minutes). Shape as desired, and cover.

4) Final rise is 1-1.5 hours (maybe longer if your home is cold – ideal temp for bread rise is 75*)

5) Preheat to 450*and slash loaves. Right before putting in oven, toss 1oz of water in the oven for steam, then immediately bake. 1.5lb loaves will take about 35-38 mins. Allow a medium-dark color to appear before removing.

The most important thing to know is that this dough will be incredibly wet and you’ll be thinking, “There’s no way that’s going to turn into bread,” but when you fold, you incorporate tiny amounts of flour, and you’ll see how it becomes easier to handle. It should still be fairly wet when you put it in the oven, hence the high temp and long bake.

Good luck!