Yeasted Country Loaf
This yeasted country loaf is the perfectly versatile every day bread. With a hard crunchy outside but delicate yet sturdy crumb, it is perfect for sandwiches, eating with dinner, toast in the morning, or warm out of the oven slathered in peanut butter or good quality butter. Easy to make on a weekend while doing other chores, this instant yeast country loaf isn't too labor intensive but yields a great a loaf that when cut up and frozen can last a week or two - depending on how much bread you eat.
Yeasted Country Loaf
1000 grams bread flour
720 grams warm water
15 grams dry instant yeast
14 grams salt
Start off by weighing 80 grams of the warm water, 80 grams of the bread flour, and the yeast into a large stainless steel bowl. Mix together until well incorporated, cover, and let activate and rise in a warm place for one hour.
Stretch, Fold, and Rise
When the levain has doubled in size and it visibly bubbly, prepare the remaining 920 grams of bread flour, 650 grams of warm water, and 15 grams of salt. Mix the salt in with the flour, and add to the levain.
Next, add the remaining water to the mixture. Begin to mix slowly by hand or with a wooden spoon, or on the low setting of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook attachment. Continue kneading until smooth and elastic. Add water and flour as needed but be sure to knead fully before adding additional water or flour. Let rise in a warm place for 1.5 hours.
Once the dough has doubled in size gently remove it from the bowl being careful not to punch down or collapse the risen dough. On a floured table, stretch the dough to a roughly 12X12 rectangle. Fold the right side to the middle and the left side over the right side. Roll it up from the bottom and place back in your bowl. Cover and let rise another 1 hour - 1.5 hours
Repeat the same stretch and fold technique once more and place back in the bowl. Let rise for another 1 hour.
Perform the same stretch and fold technique as in previous steps but rather than letting rise, gently shape the dough into a smooth and elastic ball. Be sure not to knead too aggressively as doing so will break air pockets. Gently roll with the back of your palm and place back in the bowl. Cover and refrigerate for 2-3 hours.
Place a heavy bottomed Dutch oven in your oven and preheat your oven to 450 degrees. Let heat for at least one hour.
Remove your bread from the refrigerator and place on a floured table. Gently reform the dough in a ball or batard, whatever your preference is, gently popping any air pockets that have formed on the surface. Place on a sheet of parchment paper.
Dust the top in flour if you wish to design the top, otherwise a large slash will work just fine. If you wish to design, make your design as intended with a sharp knife or razor, making fast cuts to ensure a clean design.
Take the parchment paper with the dough on it and place in the hot dutch oven. Cover, and set time for 45 minutes.
After 45 minutes, uncover the bread and bake for an additional 45 minutes to 1:15, or until the bread is deep brown and crusty on the outside, or the interior reads 208 degrees on a thermometer. Once done cooking, turn the oven off and let the bread "cure" in the warm oven for an additional hour.
Slice and slather with plenty of butter or peanut butter :)