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Country Crust Bread

This is a fabulous bread and definitely opened my eyes to the world of homemade bread. Aside from the nice, crisp crust, the inside is wonderfully soft, hearty and the slight sweetness of honey really shines through. I highly recommend trying out this bread, especially for those who are a bit intimidated by using yeast. If I can do it, you most definitely can!

In Bridget's blog, she has some beautiful pictures of her bread in a braid form. I initially tried to form mine into a braid, but it didn't work out too well. I think it might have been my anxiousness to get it baking. What I did for my loaf was divide the dough into 2 after it doubled inside the oven.
I rolled it out onto a floured surface and halved the dough. With each half, I divided it again in thirds to form 'logs' and braided them. I placed both braids on top of each other in my loaf pan and let that rise... and baked as directed in the recipe. The result is a braided crust and the inside of the bread still came out very uniform! Thank you Bridget for sharing this with me and restoring my faith in working with yeast!

Country Crust Bread
adapted from Betty Crocker and Cooks Illustrated
from the blog, Bridget of The Way the Cookie Crumbles
Makes one 9-inch loaf
3 - 3½ cups (15 - 17½ ounces) unbleached flour, plus extra for work surface
1½ teaspoons table salt
1 cup water, warm (110 degrees)
1 egg
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
3 tablespoons honey
1 package (2 1/4 teaspoons) rapid-rise yeast (also called instant)

1. Adjust oven rack to low position and heat oven to 200 degrees. Once oven temperature reaches 200 degrees, maintain heat 10 minutes, then turn off oven heat.

2. Mix flour, salt, and yeast in bowl of standing mixer fitted with dough hook. Mix water, egg, butter, and honey in 1-quart Pyrex liquid measuring cup. Turn machine to low and slowly add liquid. When dough comes together, increase speed to medium (setting number 4 on a KitchenAid mixer) and mix until dough is smooth and satiny, stopping machine two or three times to scrape dough from hook if necessary, about 10 minutes. Turn dough onto lightly floured work surface; knead to form smooth, round ball, about 15 seconds.

3. Place dough in very lightly oiled bowl, rubbing dough around bowl to lightly coat. Cover bowl with plastic wrap; place in warm oven until dough doubles in size, 40 to 50 minutes.

*Alternatively, you can use your INSTANT POT to help proof the dough! Place a piece of parchment paper large enough to hold the dough inside your Instant Pot.... OR spray the inside of your Instant Pot with non-stick spray. If using parchment paper, press the parchment paper into the liner pot and spray with non-stick spray. Place your dough and gently shape into a ball size shape to fit inside your Instant Pot. Press the YOGURT button on the Instant Pot, then select the LOW temperature setiing. Once the Instant Pot beeps, cover with a clear Instant Pot lid or a (clear glass) plate that is big enough to cover the liner. If you don't have a clear Instant Pot lid or glass plate, you can also cover tightly with plastic wrap.

*Alternatively, you can use your SLOW COOKER/CROCKPOT to help proof the dough! Fill your slow cooker halfway with water and set to the low setting (which will heat the water to about 200ºF). Put the lid on upside down, lay a dishtowel on top, then set your covered bowl of dough on top. The radiant heat from the hot water will help the bread to rise.

4. Form dough into loaf by gently pressing the dough into a rectangle, one inch thick and no wider than the length of the loaf pan. Next, roll the dough firmly into a cylinder, pressing with your fingers to make sure the dough sticks to itself. Turn the dough seam side up and pinch it closed. Finally, place dough in greased 9-by-5-by-3-inch loaf pan and press it gently so it touches all four sides of the pan.

5. Cover with plastic wrap; set aside in warm spot until dough almost doubles in size, 20 to 30 minutes. Heat oven to 350 degrees, placing empty loaf pan on bottom rack. Bring 2 cups water to boil.

6. Remove plastic wrap from loaf pan. Place pan in oven, immediately pouring heated water into empty loaf pan; close oven door. Bake until instant-read thermometer inserted at angle from short end just above pan rim into center of loaf reads 195 degrees, about 40 to 50 minutes. Remove bread from pan, transfer to a wire rack, and cool to room temperature. Slice and serve.

11 comments

  1. Congrats on your bread success! Looks delicious. Bread making is really fun!

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  2. That looks great! And congrats on tackling your fear of yeast. I tackled mine this year myself, which reminds me that I really should bake up some homemade bread soon!

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  3. FABULOUS JOB! Excellent!!

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  4. Great job, it looks wonderful. It's great when you achieve a new success in the kitchen :)

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  5. Your bread looks delicious! Congratulations on finally conquering that fear of yeast.

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  6. I have never made bread before. Yours is beautiful - good job!!!

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  7. Wow, it looks beautiful! I'm so glad that this worked out for you. You'll have so much fun exploring yeast recipes now!

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  8. Yay for conquering that yeast fear! This looks soooo good. Nothing beats homemade bread! :)

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  9. Congratulations on your first yeast excursion!

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  10. great job! it looks so pretty and delicious!

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  11. Nice job! The crust looks beautiful and perfectly browned.

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