Crusty Round Bread made in a bread machine utilizes a two-step process that slowly develops a yeasty flavor. The result is a chewy texture with a close crumb. The recipe is written for a bread machine but you can also make it in a stand mixer or by hand. (See recipe notes.)
An unexpected, unscheduled day at home is a gift straight from heaven. (Literally, if it’s caused by snow or ice.) I get so excited contemplating possible projects while still lying in bed that there’s no sleeping in late. When one such day happened recently, I took the opportunity to make one of my youngest son’s favorite breads. He loves it for good reason.
What Makes This Bread Especially Tasty:
The yeast is allowed to develop slowly resulting in superb flavor, chewy texture and a close crumb. Begin by making a “sponge,” also referred to as a biga. Sponge sounds kinda gross but this mixture does look like a sponge after it rests for several hours. See the picture below.
After the sponge has developed for 6-8 hours, add the remainder of the flour, water and salt to make the dough. I do it all in a bread machine, although it can certainly be made by hand or with a stand mixer if you don’t have a machine. With that in mind, I posted those directions in the notes of the recipe.
Try making this bread the next time you find yourself with several hours at home. Yes, it requires a little more time than most homemade bread, but it’s not so much hands-on time. Rather, it’s the kind of time where you need to hang around just to keep an eye on things. Your reward for patience is a bread with better flavor that remains fresher longer.
Please note: You won’t get big holes and spider web texture with this recipe. It’s not that kind of bread. If that’s what you’re after, check out my Ciabatta Bread.
How To Form Crusty Round Bread:
Crusty Round Bread (made in a bread machine); Two-step process slowly develops yeasty flavor resulting in a chewy texture with a close crumb.
- 1-1/2 cups all-purpose, unbleached flour
- 1 teaspoon instant or bread machine yeast
- 1 cup water
- 3 tablespoons water
- 1 teaspoon sugar (optional)
- 1-1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1-3/4 cups all-purpose, unbleached flour
Making the Sponge:
- Place water, yeast and flour in bread machine pan and select the “dough” cycle. Allow to mix about 5 minutes using small spatula to carefully push flour stuck in the corners into the mixing area. Unplug machine and let stand at room temperature over night or about 8 hours. Do not leave over 16 hours.
Making the Dough
- Open lid of bread machine and add water, sugar, salt, and flour.
- Restart dough cycle. Check dough after 5-10 minutes of mixing. If necessary, add additional flour 1 tablespoon at a time to form a smooth but slightly tacky ball or water if dough is too dry and bounces against the sides.
- When dough cycle ends, allow dough to continue to rise in machine for at least 30 minutes (or more if ambient temperature is cool) until double in size. If you are new to bread machines, see Six Bread Machine Tips for Beginners for more help with this step.
Preparing and Baking the Loaf
- Remove dough from bread machine pan to lightly floured board or silicone baking mat (my preference). Form into smooth ball by pulling dough around to bottom until top is smooth. Place on parchment-covered cookie sheet. Cover loosely with lightly oiled plastic wrap and place in warm place to rise until almost double.
- About 15 minutes before bread is ready to bake, preheat oven to 425 degrees. Just before putting bread in the oven, sprinkle top with flour. Using a single edge razor blade (or a sharp, serrated knife), make several cuts across top of bread about 1/2 inch deep.
- Bake 30-35 minutes until loaf is golden brown and internal temperature has reached 190 degrees. Allow to cool on rack before slicing. Or slice while it’s hot at the risk of squashing your bread. It’s worth it.
Directions for making bread with a stand mixer or by hand:
- Follow directions above for making the sponge. Use a medium size mixing bowl to mix the sponge and let it sit for 6-8 hours.
- To make this recipe in a heavy-duty stand mixer, add sponge and other ingredients to the bowl in the same order. Turn on low to mix until all ingredients are moistened. Using dough hook, turn speed to 2 or 3 and continue beating/kneading until dough becomes smooth and elastic, about 5-10 minutes. Cover and allow to rise in a warm place. Deflate dough gently and shape rolls as indicated in recipe.
- If making by hand, combine all ingredients into a shaggy ball in a large bowl. Turn dough out on a floured surface and knead with your hands until dough becomes smooth and elastic, a process that will likely take 10-20 minutes depending on your experience. Place dough ball into a greased bowl. Cover and allow to rise until double. Deflate dough gently and shape rolls as indicated in recipe
- Please note: If you substitute regular yeast for instant or bread machine yeast, you must dissolve it first before adding to the dry ingredients. Stir it into about 1/4 cup of the lukewarm liquid called for in the recipe. Let sit for about 10 minutes. Add to other wet ingredients and then add dry ingredients. Proceed as directed to knead and shape rolls.
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