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Rustic Spanish Bread Recipe - Pan Rustico

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Pan rustico
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This bread recipe is strictly "old-time" and produces a rustic-style Spanish bread. It's the kind that you see on abuela's (grandma's) kitchen table in pueblos across Spain. One recipe yields 3 loaves, so make it on a weekend afternoon and you'll have bread for most of the week. Our version was inspired by a recipe which appeared in Francie Martinez Vicondoa's book "Spanish Doors, Dishes and Dreams."

Prep Time: 1 hour

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1.25 lbs (.57 kg) unbleached white flour
  • .65 oz (18 gr) dry active yeast
  • 12 oz (355 ml) water
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • egg white from 1 egg

Preparation:

This Spanish rustic bread recipe yields 3 loaves, 12 oz each.

Note: Weather conditions such as humidity and temperature effect bread making. The quantities of flour and water required to make suitable dough may need to be adjusted.

Weigh flour, mix in salt and set aside. Pour dry yeast into a warm ceramic cup. Heat the water in a pan until it is very warm, but not hot. Pour approximately 4 oz of water into the cup with yeast and stir with a fork until the yeast is completely dissolved.

Pour yeast-water mixture and all but 1/2 cup water into a very large mixing bowl. Add flour to bowl gradually, continuously mixing with a wooden spoon until all flour is absorbed, adding the remaining water as needed. The dough should have a smooth texture and form a ball.

Using a paper towel, coat the inside of a large bowl with olive oil or vegetable shortening. Cover the bowl with a wet dish towel and place in a warm spot in the kitchen. If your kitchen is drafty and cold, allow dough to rise in the covered bowl in a warm oven (approximately 150F degrees) with the door open. Let rise for 30 minutes.

Cover cutting board with a generous amount of flour to prevent dough from sticking. Turn dough out onto a cutting board. Flour hands and knead with heals of hands. When dough has a consistent texture and forms a ball, divide into 3 pieces. Form dough into rounds or oblong shapes. Place on a cookie sheet or baking stone. Allow to rise in a warm place for 10-15 minutes. While dough is rising, preheat oven to 375F (190C) degrees.

Cut slits in top of loaves just before baking. When oven is hot, place bread on center rack and bake for 10 minutes. Remove and brush with beaten egg white. Return to oven and bake for another 15-20 minutes. Bread should turn a light golden color.

Remove from oven and allow to cool on a rack for 10-15 minutes. When cool enough to touch, slice with a bread knife and serve.

Tips for Freezing Bread or Dough

  • To store bread in the freezer: After bread has completely cooled, wrap tightly in plastic wrap and place in a sealed plastic freezer bag. Remove and thaw an hour before serving.
  • To freeze dough: Easy instructions on How To Freeze Yeast Bread Dough from About.com's Guide to Bread Baking.
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