“Inspired by a New York times recipe, this is a wonderfully rustic loaf of bread that requires literally no skills to make. All you need is a cast iron, ceramic or Pyrex dish and some time. The resulting loaf has a serious crust, an open crumb and lovely bite, with a flavour that hints towards a sourdough.” Poh Ling Yeow, Poh & Co. 2

Serves
4-10

Preparation

10min

Cooking

1hr

Skill level

Mid
By
Average: 3.6 (60 votes)
Yum

Ingredients

  • 450 g (3 cups) plain flour, plus extra, for dusting
  • ¼ tsp instant dried yeast
  • 1¼ tsp salt
  • 380–400 ml water
  • polenta or wheat bran, for dusting

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.

Instructions

Resting time up to 26 hours

Place the flour, yeast and salt in a large bowl, then mix with your hands. Make a well in the centre and pour the water in. Using a circular motion, bring the ingredients together to form a sticky, wet dough. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave the dough to rest in a warm draught-free place for a minimum of 12 hours (18 is preferable - see Note).

Dust a workbench well with extra flour and scrape the dough onto it, sprinkle with a little more flour, then roughly flatten it with your hands. Pull the front and back of the dough into the centre, then fold in the sides (this is called an envelope fold).

Sprinkle a generous amount of polenta or wheat bran on the centre of a clean tea towel. Place the dough on top, sprinkle over more polenta or wheat bran, then loosely fold the sides of the tea towel over to cover it completely. Leave the dough to rise for another 2–8 hours (depending on the climate), until it has doubled in size and does not spring back easily when pressed.

Half an hour before the dough has finished proving, preheat the oven to 210˚C fan-forced (230˚C).

Place a 25–28cm enamelled cast iron casserole dish and its lid (or any heatproof glass or stoneware baking dish with a lid) into the oven while the oven preheats.

When ready to bake, carefully remove the casserole dish from the oven; it will be very hot. Remove the top of the tea towel carefully from under the dough and swiftly flip the dough into the casserole, placing it in the centre.

Cover and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the lid and bake until the top is brown. Transfer to a wire rack to cool for at least 10 minutes before serving. 

 

Note

• The amount of time it will take for the initial rise of the dough will depend on the season and the ambient temperature – in winter I’ve found it can take up to 20 hours. It is ready when the surface of the dough is dotted with bubbles and, if you tilt the bowl, the bubbles will give the dough a stringy appearance.

• When the bread is ready, it should look on the flat side and make a lovely hollow sound when tapped. Then, when you cut into it, the air bubbles should be large and the texture a little chewy, with a robust crust and a flavour hinting towards a sourdough.

 

Photography, styling and food preparation by china squirrel.

Poh & Co. 2 Saturdays at 8:00pm on SBS Food.

 

View recipes and more from Poh & Co. on our program page.

 

This crusty loaf is perfect for mushrooms on toast!