With a crusty outside and a tender inside, this homemade rustic bread recipe produces a fragrant loaf perfect for sandwiches or enjoying with pasta, soup or whatever else you like yeast bread with.
I used to say that I wasn’t a baker since I don’t find joy in the technical nature of baking. It’s so scientific — how important proportions are to the final result, the way ingredients interact with each other as they transform, etc. They say baking is best done by measuring your ingredients by weight to ensure precision. You’ll notice that I still don’t — and it works fine for me for now.
But what’s really changed is that I am developing an affinity for baking. Though the science of baking still holds little interest for me, I find doughs fascinating. And moreover, I love the end results.
Take this loaf of homemade bread, for instance. This is a rustic bread recipe that I’ve used for years. It was originally written for preparing in a bread machine, but I’ve since used it to make by hand — and I liked the results even more than the original. The resulting bread is fragrant and doughy, perfect for buttering while its warm.
This is the kind of bread that can stand up to heavier toppings too.
But the dough? It’s so different than other yeast doughs I’ve worked with.
Frankly, as far as doughs go, this one is sloppy, ugly and unruly. It’s loose and wet — and it’s sticky. Hint: use wet hands if you need to mix the last of the flour. That will prevent you from becoming one with the dough.
Trust me on that.
And when you let this dough rise, roll it out and form a log, begins to form a pretty loaf that bakes into a beautiful, crusty one. It isn’t a smooth, perfect loaf, but one with character and nuance. The whole thing is kind of poetic, really.
Now, really, you should let the bread cool before slicing. But it’s hard to resist the draw of that warm bread just waiting to be buttered, so I won’t tell if you don’t let it cool completely before digging in. Sometimes, you just have to break the rules.
Serve this rustic bread with your favorite soup. Or alongside your Sunday sauce. Or with whatever you love to whip up on weekends.
Homemade Rustic Bread Recipe
- 1 1/2 cups warm water
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 1 package dry active yeast
- 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tbsp warm water
- 1/4 tsp kosher salt
- In a large mixing bowl, stir together the water, sugar and salt. Sprinkle with the yeast and let sit for a few minutes until it has all foamed. Stir together. Add the flour all at once and stir to combine. The dough will be sticky, and you may need to use wet hands to incorporate the last of the flour into it. Yes, really, wet hands -- this dough will stick like crazy to floured ones.
- Transfer the dough to a large oiled bowl and cover. Set in a draft-free warm spot and allow to rise for at least one hour. It should double in size.
- Transfer the dough to a floured board and roll into a rectangle. Hint: flour the dough and the rolling pin and keep a dough scraper handy. This dough will still be really sticky. Once rolled out, roll the dough into a log along the long side. Taper the ends.
- Place the loaf on a greased parchement-lined baking sheet. Cover with a clean kitchen towel, and set in a warm, draft-free place to rise for at least an hour, or until doubled in size.
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
- In a small bowl, stir together the glaze ingredients. Brush all over the loaf. Discard any unused glaze. Using a serrated knife, cut three diagonal slits in the top of the loaf.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes, until golden.
- Let cool before slicing and enjoying
Sarah Walker Caron is a cookbook author, freelance writer and founder of Sarah’s Cucina Bella. Her latest cookbook is The Super Easy 5-Ingredient Cookbook, published by Rockridge Press, which focuses on quick, easy, from-scratch cooking for busy people. A single mother to two kids in middle school, Sarah loves nightly family dinners, juicy tomatoes plucked fresh from the vine and lazy days on the beach. She also adores reading and traveling.