This rustic country bread is a cross between a ciabatta bread and a country French loaf. It has a thicker crust that ciabatta, but a nice open and glistening interior crumb. This bread is great sliced and topped with a bruschetta topping or fine cheese. The addition of wheat flour in the bread adds a depth of flavor and makes the bread a little denser than if you were to use 100 percent white flour. When kneading this bread you do not need to worry about the dough being fully kneaded, because the long rise time allows for the dough to become naturally kneaded. The final bread will actually benefit from less kneading.
- 2 ¼ cups (300 grams) bread flour
- ¾ cup (100 grams) whole wheat flour
- 1 ¼ tsp. (8 grams) salt
- 1 1/3 cups (300 grams) cool water
- 1 tsp. instant yeast
- Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer (this dough is particularly wet so a stand mixer will be easier for the mixing process). Mix with a wooden spoon or the dough hook for 3 minutes or until the all the flour has been incorporated. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow to rest for 15-30 minutes.
- Knead the dough by hand or by stand mixer (medium speed) for 5 minutes. You want the dough to clear the sides of the bowl and to start to look less shaggy. The dough will only be slightly smooth looking. Return the dough to the bowl if hand kneading and cover with plastic wrap. Allow to rise at room temperature for 3 hours.
- Turn out the dough onto a well floured counter and shape into desired shape. Place in a banneton to rise. If you do not have a banneton, heavily flour a linen cloth and place in a medium bowl or colander, then place your shaped loaf seam side up in the basket. This will serve as a homemade dough rising basket. Flour the top of the loaf and cover with greased plastic wrap. Place directly in the refrigerator and allow to rise overnight.
- Remove your loaf from the refrigerator and allow the loaf to come up to room temperature while your oven preheats. Preheat your oven to 475 degrees and place a baking stone in the middle of the oven with a cast iron skillet in the bottom. Allow to preheat for 45 minutes to an hour before baking.
- Turn your dough out onto a flour peel or an inverted parchment lined baking sheet. Working quickly slide your loaf out onto the baking stone and pour a ½ cup of water into the cast iron skillet. Quickly close the door and reduce the oven temperature to 425 degrees. Allow the loaf to bake for 20 minutes then rotate it and continue to bake for another 20-25 minutes or until the loaf is a deep golden brown and sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom. Allow to cool completely before slicing.