For great rustic hearth breads that have crisp crusts and silky interiors you will need to make a hearth out of your home oven. While we can’t all have professional bread ovens in our homes we can mimic them. The first essential piece of equipment is a baking stone. A baking stone that is preheated with your oven will direct the heat directly into the bottom of your loaf. This will result in a better oven spring and a crisper crust that is more evenly colored. Place the baking stone on the middle rack of your oven and then place a small cast iron skillet on the bottom rack. The skillet will be used to create steam in your oven, which will keep your crusts soft in the first few minutes of baking, allowing your dough to rise to its fullest potential. I always let my stone and skillet heat up for an hour before I am ready to bake, this way I know that the stone has come up to the same temperature as the oven.
When you are ready to bake, quickly place your loaf onto the stone and pour a half a cup of water into the cast iron skillet below.