No-Time Rustic Bread

No-Time Rustic Bread

This is the fifth time I’ve used this recipe in various configurations, and this one turned out well!  I added a different mix of flours, and of course yeast, yet more water, and salt in proportion to the flour(s).  I find that this recipe requires more hot water than you would expect to get a nice damp batter.  If you’d like to see the original No-Time Bread recipe, it is at:

Key Steps for No-Time Bread

  • Preheat the Dutch oven. Bake this bread in a preheated Dutch oven (or Le Creuset) for a thin, crackly crust.  If you heat the pan while you heat the oven, it will be hot enough to give the dough a good oven spring — which results in a loftier loaf.
  • Preheat the dough. Add hot water to soak up the flour before kneading.  The cover the kneaded dough in a large microwave-safe bowl and heat for 25 seconds to activate the instant yeast and get the dough rising.
  • Rest the dough between bursts of heat. In between microwave bursts, let the dough rest in the microwave where it will continue to rise.  Follow the first 25 seconds of microwaving with five minutes of resting, and the second burst of microwave heat with 15 minutes of resting time.
Once the dough is shaped into a loaf, it’s ready for baking.  There’s no need for further rising.  You can shape the dough into a nice tight ball and put it right into the preheated Dutch oven.  Bake, covered, for 30 minutes, then uncover and bake for 10 more minutes.  Cool the bread for about 10 minutes before slicing and slathering with butter or serving with soup.
Takes 25-30 minutes to mix, knead, rise, and get oven-ready, then 30-40 minutes in the oven to make one large loaf in my next-largest oval Le Creuset so about 1¼ hours start to finish for a tasty, light loaf, perfect for sandwiches.

No-Time Rustic Bread Recipe (for pain de campagne)

20g (2 x ¼-ounce packets, 5 tsp loose) active dry yeast
15g (1 Tbsp) any type of sugar
450g (1½ cups) water, hand hot, with more on hand if required
550g (3½ cups) bread flour
100g wholewheat flour
100g light rye flour
12g (1¼ tsp) kosher salt
18g (1½ tsp) balsamic vinegar – I don’t measure, just add a dollop
1.   Place the yeast, sugar, and water in a large, microwave-safe bowl. Stir to dissolve the sugar, add the yeast, and let stand for five minutes.  In the meantime, measure out the flours and salt in a separate bowl.
2.   Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven, remove any racks above it, and heat to 450°F. Place a Dutch oven (or Le Creuset enameled cast iron casserole with a lid, or equivalent) in the oven as it heats.
3.   Now that the yeast has had a few minutes to bubble up, add almost all the flour, the salt, and the vinegar. Using an electric hand mixer, beat for about a minute until all the flour has been incorporated.  If you need more water to make a wet-but-not-goopy dough, add HOT water.
4.   Spread the remaining flour out on your countertop. Scrape the wet dough out of the mixing bowl (and immediately wash and dry the bowl for later).  Knead vigorously for five minutes, or until the dough becomes extremely elastic.  Here’s how you’ll know:  the dough will no longer pick up flour or stick to your hands, but will still stick slightly to the countertop.
5.   Lightly grease that large microwave-safe bowl with vegetable oil or Pam spray. Transfer the bread dough into the bowl and cover the bowl with a piece of plastic wrap sprayed with Pam.  Cover the whole thing with a dry kitchen towel and put in the microwave.  Microwave on HIGH for 25 seconds.
6.   Let the dough rest in the microwave for five minutes. Microwave on HIGH for 25 seconds more.  Let rest in the microwave an additional 15 minutes.  Take out the bowl and peel away the plastic wrap.
7.   Take the hot Dutch oven or Le Creuset out of the oven. Hold the bowl over the pan and gently nudge the dough into the hot Dutch oven.  Shake a few times to settle the dough, and quickly slash the top with a sharp knife.
OPTIONAL:  Chop a small handful of nuts and scatter over the loaf.
8.   Cover and bake for 30 minutes.  Then uncover and bake until the crust is golden brown and the internal temperature hits 210°F, about 10 minutes more.
9.   Take the Le Creuset out of the oven, and turn upside down to let the bread drop out. Tap on the bottom;  it should sound hollow.  If it doesn’t, put the loaf back in the oven (by itself) for another 5-10 minutes.
10.  Let cool at least 30 minutes before slicing and serving; otherwise, the bread will be too soft to make clean slices.
Leftover bread can be stored cut-side down at room temperature for up to three days.  You can also wrap the bread in plastic wrap and aluminum foil and freeze for up to three months.  I find storage is not a problem!
Here is the printable .pdf file for No-time Country Bread.