Crusty Bread

O how I love a good crusty bread! I wish I could tell you where I got this recipe years ago. I scribbled an abbreviated version into my food journal and that’s all I have. It was a hit at Lenten potlucks that year I found it, and everyone was just eating it plain. This half recipe is a good amount when you’re baking individual loaves for four.

Rustic Crusty Bread | Orthodox and Vegan
My old food journal. After the ingredients, the instructions simply read “Do what you do to make dough.” 🙂

Rustic Crusty Bread | Orthodox and Vegan
Fresh bread hot from the oven is a wonderful treat in wintertime.

Rustic Crusty Bread | Orthodox and Vegan
The bread has a thick, crunchy crust on the outside, and is nice and soft on the inside. Best of all the whole house smells like fresh bread. If you don’t eat it all at once, storing it in a plastic bag will make the crust soft and chewy. It should stay nice and crunchy if you store it in a paper bag.

Crusty Bread
3 ¼ C flour
1 packet dry yeast
2 tsp salt
1 ½ C very warm water

In a large bowl, combine all dry ingredients with a whisk. Make a well in the center, and pour the very warm water into the well. Stir it in with a large spoon until a loose dough begins to form, then begin mixing with your hands. Once the dough comes together, turn it out onto a floured surface and knead until it becomes smooth and shiny. If the dough is sticky, add more flour to your work surface and work it into the dough as you knead.

Place dough in a clean bowl that has been lightly floured, cover the bowl and let it sit in a draft-free place to rise for 2 hours. The dough should double in size.

During the last several minutes of rising, preheat the oven to 500.

When dough has doubled in size, quarter it and form four small round loaves. Place them on a baking sheet and bake at 500 for 10 minutes, then lower heat to 400 and bake an additional 20-25 minutes, or until bread is golden brown. The bread will have a thick, crunchy crust on the outside, and be deliciously soft on the inside. Store in paper bags to keep the crust crunchy, or in plastic if you want it to soften.

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