Recipe: Rustic Crusty Bread

Confession: we are carb monsters. My #1 food frienemy is bread - I love everything about it, but hate how it's not great for you & full of empty calories. Nonetheless, I still love baking bread. Something about knowing you made it from scratch with your own hands is incredibly rewarding to me.

I really love good crusty, chewy bread. Fresh with some butter on it - it's seriously perfect. I came across this recipe over a year ago and it is 100% fool proof. Some of us can be intimidated by making bread, but I promise if you try this recipe you will succeed and your breadmaking confidence will grow! You don't need a bread machine or a fancy mixer to make this bread - a bowl and a wooden spoon work just fine.

I can't recall what the original source is for this recipe, so I apologize in advance for not giving credit. If you know, please let me know!

Rustic Crusty Bread
Makes 2 large loaves, or 4 small loaves.

1 1/2 tbsp active yeast
3 cups warm water (105-115F is ideal for yeast - it's worth taking the temp)
1 tbsp salt
6 cups all-purpose flour
Any herbs or flavours (optional - rosemary, dill and basil work great!)

Add yeast to the warm water, then add flour & salt. Mix until there is no dry patches left. The dough will be loose (meaning sticky and stretchy). Cover the bowl with a tea towel and let rise for a minimum of 3 hours, up to 5 hours.

Once your dough has risen, you can divide it up into the number of loaves you prefer. I like to divide it into 4 and bake two of them that day, then refrigerate the remaining dough in an airtight container. The refrigerated dough will keep for up to 2 weeks.

Roll the loaves into balls and place on a sheet of parchment paper. Let rise for 40 minutes. Preheat oven to 450F and place a baking stone in the oven to heat up. Also place a rimmed (this is key) baking sheet on the lower rack in the oven.

Once your dough has risen, sprinkle the top of the loaves with some flour and score three long slices across the top. Place one loaf on the parchment paper onto the pizza stone in the oven. Pour approximately one cup of water into the hot rimmed baking sheet and quickly close the oven door.

Bake for 24-29 minutes until the loaf is a nice brown-gold all over. Remove from oven and let cool for 15 minutes before slicing.

Loaves keep in an airtight resealable plastic bag for one week.