Recipe: Pan Rustico Bread Loaf

UPDATE: 01/07/2012: I made this again and added pictures of each stage to make it a little easier!

I’ve had a very productive bank holiday weekend. You may recall this recipe for flapjacks, well I did that again but this time I added 200g of melted chocolate over the top and cooled it in the fridge. Oh my goodness! It is pure delight! Seriously!

But if that wasn’t enough, I also made some bread. A new type of bread. I have pretty bad IBS and over the years have come to the conclusion that store bought bread sucks! It is really bad for you. IBS or not. So since then we’ve had home made bread as much as possible. We’re onto our second breadmaker now after the first fell apart!! Now, a note on breadmakers, if I wasn’t so damn busy all the time I would make all bread by hand. But I am busy. So I use a machine. However, I don’t use bread mix. I use the base ingredients. So much nicer.

Last week I was flicking through the billions of cable channels we have and stopped on the Hairy Bikers Bakeation. I love these guys. They’re rad! They were in Spain this week and one of the recipes was Pan Rustico. It looked interesting so I decided to give it a go. It was a lot fun and I highly recommend trying it yourself.

So, first up, this receipe needs breaking down into two parts; a starter dough and the bread dough.

Starter dough
150ml warm water
1 tsp caster sugar
3 tsp fast-action dried yeast
125g strong white flour

Take a measuring jug and add your warm water. This should be quite tepid, warm to the touch but not so warm that it will kill the yeast. Stir in the sugar and then slowly stir in the yeast. Don’t go mental with it!

Sit it on top of a radiator or put it in the airing cupboard for 10 minutes. You’ll notice it get a bit foamy on top. It’s ALIVE!

Slowly stir in the flour until it becomes a paste. Most flour these days has been sieved so you don’t need to but for this recipe it will make the bread lighter if you give it another sieve. After all, it was packed up and condensed on a lorry before getting to the store. Give it some air!

Take your paste and store it for 24 hours. Room temperature should be adequate but as we’re neither in Spain nor is the UK May climate at a level I can tolerate, mine went in the airing cupboard. When you check it the following day it will smell like a really sweet beer. Nice! EDIT 01/07/12: Be careful here, it can rise a lot, my first attempt exploded out of the bowl! Use cling film to seal it in.

Now it’s time for part 2, the bread dough. Give yourself the best part of an afternoon for this.

Bread dough
200ml warm water
1 tsp caster sugar
1 tsp fast-action dried yeast
225g strong white flour
100g strong wholemeal flour
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp olive oil

Prepare your water, sugar and yeast as per the starter and leave for 10 minutes again.

Mix your flours (sieve again) and salt in a bowl, make a well in the centre.

Pour in the starter dough, the oil and the new yeast mix.

Mix together with a wooden spoon until the liquid gets soaked up and then get your hands in there and give it a good pummelling. As with all dough, judge whether you need to add more flour or more water as you bring it together.

You should now have a nice sticky dough. Bring it out onto a lightly floured service. Now it’s time for some kneading. It’s very important you don’t cut corners at this point. Set a timer for 10 minutes and knead the crap out of this bad boy! Knead as you would normally and every now and then push away one end of the dough with the heel of your palm and fold it in half. You can add a little bit of flour if it’s still really sticky. About 8 minutes in you should notice a sudden change in texture. It’s like magic!

When you’re done, lightly grease a bowl and pop your dough in. Grease some cling film and lightly cover.

Store for an hour in the airing cupboard so it can rise. It should double in size. Mine nearly overspilled the bowl. Missus would’ve killed me if I’d messed up the towels!

Take a baking tray, add some parchment and flour. Stretch your dough to the length of the tray and then fold in half. Repeat twice more then stretch out like a baguette. Use a knife to slash the top. 45 degrees looks good! Dust with a little flour and leave to rise for about 45 minutes, uncovered.

After 30 minutes, pre-heat the oven to gas mark 8. As with all bread, your oven needs to be really hot, as if you’ve been baking loaves all day!

Bake the loaf for 25 minutes. When it’s done, tap it and it should sound hollow. It’s a wonderful sound and smell!

Check it!

First time:

Mark II:

This is without a doubt the nicest bread I have ever made. It smells so fresh and tastes so good. Your turn!

3 thoughts on “Recipe: Pan Rustico Bread Loaf

  1. Hi, I’ve tried this recipe too. A couple of times and every occasion the dough has been so extremely gooey that i haven’t been able to work it. I had wondered about using less water for the main dough mix – say 150 instead of 200. The second time I used a Mixer but previously i’d tried to do the whole thing by hand like the Hairy Bikers. Wondered what you thought and whether you’d any tips for me. Thanks.

    1. Hi Stephen

      Thanks for the comment. It’s funny, I just made this again last weekend as it happens. I used a mixer for the first time too.

      This is a reasonably moist dough, moreso than a normal loaf, but I wouldn’t say it should be gooey.

      The starter dough should be mostly liquid and when it’s fermented for 24 hours it should be of a consistency to pour into the main mix. The yeast mix for the main mix isn’t a mandatory step, as you’re using fast action instant yeast and it’s going right in there so you can skip the 10 minute actioning of that. That then allows you to use less water in the main mix. So what I’d do there is put the flours and salt in the bowl, add the starter mix and the yeast and oil and start mixing. As it starts to absorb and get stiffer, add the water gradually. Aim for a good moist dough before you either use a mixer or knead by hand. And remember, if you use a mixer, only knead for about 4-5 minutes.

      Alternatively just keep adding more white flour until it comes together. When it has done the first rise and you knead it again, if it’s still a bit too moist you can add a bit more flour as you knead. But you should be able to shape it at this point.

      Hope that helps, let me know how you get on and send me a pic of your result!

      If you get any problems, just drop a comment here!


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