Rustic French Bread

Course : Bread Machine
Serves: 16
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1 1/2 cups water
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups white bread flour
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup rye flour
1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast

Preparation / Directions:

TO MAKE THE BREAD BY MACHINE: 1. Place the ingredients in your bread machine pan in the order listed. Set the machine on the French bread setting and wait for a treat. TO MAKE THE BREAD BY HAND: 1. Dissolve the yeast in 1/4 cup of luke-warm water and let it stand until creamy, about 10 minutes. Stir the remaining water and the honey together with the dissolved yeast. 2. Whisk the flours and salt together and add the liquid. Mix with your hands or a wooden spoon until it forms a stiff dough. Knead for 10 minutes on a lightly floured board then place in an oiled bowl, cover with a clean kitchen towel, and allow to double in size in a warm place, about 1 1/2 hours. 3. Shape into a disk on a flat cookie sheet covered with corn meal. Cover lightly with a towel and let rise until double in size, about 1 hour. 4. Preheat the oven to 450° F (230° C). If you have a baking stone, set it in the center of the oven at the beginning of the preheating; if not, use another cookie sheet. 5. Set an empty metal 8 x 8-inch (20 x 20 cm) pan on the bottom rack of the oven. When the dough and the oven are ready, place the unbaked loaf on the middle rack. Pour 2 cups of hot tap water into the hot pan underneath and quickly close the oven door. The water will make steam, which serves to make the crust nice and chewy. Bake until very dark brown, about 35 to 40 minutes. The interior temperature should be 190° F (88 °C) or even a little higher when you stick an instant-read thermometer into the bottom of the loaf. 6. Cool on a rack for at least an hour before slicing.

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