I love a great farmers bread, the recipe is from Jim Lahey, owner of the Sullivan Street Bakery, I have been baking his recipe for some time. The smell of freshly baked bread that just came out of the oven is pretty amazing. This recipe will give you a guaranteed result and a great farmer’s bread.
The recipe is for one 10″ loaf.
When making bread, the one thing you need is time and patience. It takes time for the dough to rise, which in the end, will create a bread with a wonderful flavor and crust. The recipe uses a small amount of yeast, because of this, the dough needs to rest and ferment for a longer period of time. Why use less yeast? Traditionally, it is said that rising the dough very slowly, with a little yeast, builds better flavor and aroma.
The method is simple: Flour, salt, water and little yeast, create a no need dough. However, the dough has to ferment for at least 14 to 16 hours. I usually mix my dough on a Saturday at 9:00 am and bake my bread the next day at 9:00 am. So my dough is fermenting and rising for 24 hours. The longer you ferment the dough, the more intense the flavor. Just dust the dough with a little flour and cover with clear plastic food, finaly cover the bowl with a kitchen towel, place at room temperature, relax and let the little invisible creatures (Bacteria) take over.
Covering the dough with clear food plastic foil will avoid that a crust builds during fermenation.
Also, make sure to use lukewarm water, if you use cold water with a low yeast preparation, the rise of the dough can take up to 36 hours.
There is no need to have special baking equipment, the only thing you need is a 4 1/2 quart Dutch oven that creates a tight seal so the steam that develops during the baking cannot escape. Lately, I use 1.5 cups of whole wheat flour and 1.5 cups of King Arthurs bread flour to make a more rustic farmers bread.
The salt in this recipe is added to enhance flavor. If you are on a low or zero sodium diet, you can adjust the recipe to match your needs or even bake it without the salt; however, the flavor will change. Once you bake a crusty Farmers bread in a Dutch oven you realize how awesome freshly baked bread can be. One piece of advice from experience, there is a huge temptation to cut into the bread the moment it comes out of the oven. However, my recommendation is to let the bread rest for at least one hour before cutting it.