Making homemade bread doesn't have to be as difficult as it sounds, and it can be much healthier than store-bought bread, without all the added preservatives. One of my favorite varieties to make is a rustic sourdough. I like to call it 'country bread.'
This recipe calls for an active sourdough culture, and the remaining ingredients couldn't be simpler—just flour, water, and sea salt. To make this a true country loaf, place the round of dough in the oven without slashing the top. As it bakes, the bread will break apart and create a rustic look.
3 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup water
1 cup active sourdough culture
2 tsp. sea salt
Combine all the ingredients in a large mixing bowl to form a firm ball. Knead for 5 minutes. Cover and let rise for at least 5 hours at room temperature.
Remove the dough from the bowl, punch down, knead for 5 minutes, and form a round loaf without slashing the top. Return to the bowl, cover, and let rise for at least 3 more hours.
Transfer it gently from the bowl to a baking stone and bake in a preheated oven at 450°F for 15 minutes. Reduce the temperature to 350°F and bake for an additional 45 minutes, turning the loaf once halfway through baking.
Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack for at least 1 hour before serving.
Makes 1 loaf