Rustic Country Bread

Despite Chris Kimball’s claim about this dough having a high level of hydration (it has 58% hydration), the dough seemed drier than most breads I’ve made this year; like the Rustic Italian Bread (68% hydration). The drier dough was easier to work with, but resulted in a finer crumb. I was surprised that the recipe didn’t add more yeast to the dough, but only relied on the yeast added the night before.  Of course this bread cannot be compared to the crème de la crème of breads; the Rosemary Focaccia.


The shape is the only thing rustic about this loaf.


The recipe is here. Similarly to most of Chris Kimball’s other bread, start the biga the night before. Then begin preparation in the early afternoon (1:30 pm) for 7pm dinner. For the main dough, add the ingredients to the bowl of a standing mixer, and mix with a dough hook on lowest setting for 15 minutes. Add the 2 teaspoons of salt in the final 3 minutes. Let triple in size; about 2 hours. On a floured surface, fold the dough in a specific way according to the directions and place in heavily floured, cheesecloth-lined colander. Let double in size; about 45 minutes. Spray dough 5 times with water bottle. Bake for 35 minutes in 450-degree oven until bread has an internal temperature of 210-degrees. Let cool for 1-1/2 hours.

The bread is good, respectable, but lacks some personality. The crumb was too fine. If I’m going to spend all day doing something, I want it to exceptional. Perhaps because this is a relatively old recipe, from 1995. In my opinion, this recipe is not worth the effort. It’s not much better than a $2 pre-baked loaf from the super market (though doesn’t have the extra additives).


  1. The recipe says that this is a wet dough, but it seemed dry. The directions say to “add water in 1-tablespoon increments every 30 seconds until smooth consistency is reached”. Because I’m not sure what consistency they wanted, it was impossible for me to judge.  I like Chris Kimball’s other recipes that use a very precise weight, and comes out perfect every time.
  2. The crust became a little too thick while waiting for the internal temperature to reach 210-degrees.

Rating: 3-1/2 stars.
Cost: $1.
How much work? Medium.
How big of a mess?  Low.
Started: 1:30 PM.  Dinnertime:  7:00 PM.

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