I am a believer in good bread. Having been around thousands of years, it is a pillar to our existence. It sustains us, it nourishes us.
Bread comforts us. It is present in some form in most cultures.
Although fad diets have tried to exclude carbohydrates, science proves that they don't work. Nutrition is not fashion-- it shouldn't go in trend cycles as it does. Corporate interests shouldn't control our eating habits as they do... what is truly best for our minds, bodies, and souls is whole, natural foods, undisturbed by chemicals.
According to my dad, this bread tastes "professional," a compliment that flatters me, although I'm no bread baking expert. I love the aesthetic of free-form breads, the rustic holes that form in them, and the lovely chew. This one is particularly easy and delicious!
Rustic country loaf
Adapted from King Arthur Flour
Makes one round loaf
1 ¼ cups warm water (between 95 & 115F)
1 ½ tsp yeast (I used active dry- you could also use instant)
½ cup white whole wheat flour
2 ½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 ½ tsp salt
Pour the water into the bowl of your stand mixer. Add the yeast and white whole wheat flour. Let sit a few minutes, until the mixture begins to bubble. Using the paddle attachment, stir in the salt and 1 cup of the AP flour. With the mixer on low speed, gradually add the remaining 1 ½ cups of AP flour. Mix well on low speed until the dough comes together and starts to pull away from the edges of the bowl.
You can knead this in the stand mixer and finish by hand, but I prefer to knead it entirely by hand. Knead by hand on a well-floured work surface. It will be sticky at first. Set the kneaded dough aside and wash the bowl of your stand mixer. Knead the dough a few more minutes. When the dough is well-kneaded and no longer sticky, but smooth, grease the bowl with a little olive oil, form the dough into a ball, and place the ball in the bowl, rolling around to cover in oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let rise about 1 ½ to 2 hours, until doubled in size.
Remove dough from bowl and flour a separate bowl or rising basket (Brotform or banneton). Work the dough around your hands a bit to smooth it out and expel excess air. Make the dough into a ball and place the prettier side facing down. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let rise 45 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 425F with rack in the center. Have a parchment or silicone mat-lined baking sheet ready. Very gently and carefully dump/ roll the dough onto the baking sheet, so that the pretty side is facing up. You do not want the dough to deflate. If it does, let it rise a little while again. Bake the bread in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes, until golden and hollow-sounding when thumped on the underside. If you want an extra crispy crust, spray water into the oven three times during the first 10 minutes of baking (I did not try this). For a crusty loaf, let cool in the oven with the door cracked open. For a softer crust, remove from oven and cool on a wire rack.
Note: Because this bread does not contain fat, use it up within a couple of days, or it could become stale.