Recipe: Kate’s Easy-to-Make Rustic Crusty Bread


Kate’s secret to getting that covetable crusty finish is using a heavy casserole dish. 

Recipe and words: Kate Coughlan

I’m no good at baking cakes and biscuits, but I can bake beautiful bread. Recently I’ve been baking bread in a dutch oven within my big oven. The idea is to use a solid casserole dish (lid-on) in a very hot oven. I learned this from a Donna Hay cookbook — it is the secret to a crusty crust.

My other recent breadmaking success is to use my cake-mixer dough hook. Who knew a cake mixer hook could knead dough beautifully? My Kenwood is not large, so I can’t use more than 5 to 6 cups of flour, but it kneads dough effectively. It does moan and growl a little from time to time.

Kate’s Rustic Crusty Bread

INGREDIENTS

5-6 cups of various flours (for this loaf I used a cup each of white spelt, wholemeal,
rye meal, high-grade white flour, gluten-free white flour)
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons of yeast
1 tablespoon of treacle (or 1 teaspoon of sugar)
2 cups of warm water
1 tablespoon of oil

METHOD

Mix the flours and salt in a mixer bowl (or large glass or ceramic bowl if doing by hand). Mix in the yeast and treacle in the warm water and leave for 15 minutes.

Insert the dough hook into the mixer and, on low speed, add the water slowly until a ball forms and the kneading process is underway. More or less water may be needed. Add too much water, and it will slop in the bowl. If this happens, add more flour. Leave the mixer on the lowest speed for 10 minutes.

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If kneading by hand, mix with a flat-bladed knife on a floured surface. Add the water slowly to the flour until a ball of dough forms. Knead for around 10 minutes (it’s a good workout).

Bread kneading demonstration video – fast forward to 4.38.

Remove the dough from the mixer bowl to lightly oil the bowl (any oil will do). Return the dough to the oiled bowl, cover and leave in a warm place for at least an hour (sometimes mine sits forgotten on the kitchen bench all day if I’m distracted in the garden).

When the dough has doubled in size, lightly knead it for a minute or so on a floured surface. Return the dough to the bowl while the oven heats. Place a heavy, lidded casserole dish into the oven and turn the temperature to 240°C.

When the oven is at temperature, lift the casserole dish out carefully using thick oven gloves and place on a heatproof surface. Remove the lid and carefully sprinkle flour around the base and sides of the dish (no burnt wrists now) to stop the dough from sticking.

Place the dough in the centre of casserole dish and, with a sharp knife, score the top on a diagonal 3 to 4 times. Place the lid back on and return the casserole dish to the oven. Set timer for 20 minutes, then reduce the heat to 220°C and bake for a further 30 minutes.

Check the bread at this stage by lifting it out (carefully) to a heatproof surface, removing the lid and giving the bread a sharp rap with the knuckle. If it sounds hollow, it is probably done. If not, put it back into the oven for another 10 minutes and check again. Makes 1 loaf

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