Pan Rustico Bread
For the starter dough:
150ml warm water
1 tsp caster sugar
3 tsp fast-action dried yeast
125g/ strong white flour
For the bread dough:
160ml warm water
1 tsp caster sugar
1 tsp fast-action dried yeast
225g strong white flour, plus extra for dusting
100g strong wholemeal flour
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for greasing
For the starter, pour the water into a bowl and stir in the sugar.
Stir in the yeast and leave in a warm place for about 10 minutes or until a beige foam floats on the surface.
Stir in the flour to make a thick paste, then cover with cling film and leave at room temperature for 24 hours.
At the end of the 24 hours the paste will smell yeasty and slightly fermented.
For the bread dough, pour the water into a jug and stir in the sugar. Lightly stir in the yeast and leave in a warm place for about 10 minutes or until a beige foam floats on the surface.
Stir the flours and salt together in a large bowl, then make a well in the centre and add the yeast and water mixture, the starter dough and the oil.
Mix with a wooden spoon and then with your hands until the mixture comes together and forms a slightly lumpy and sticky dough. If the dough feels a little dry, add another tablespoon or two of water.
Transfer the dough to a work surface and knead for a good 10 minutes until it’s smooth and elastic. As you knead, push the dough away from you with the heel of your hand to stretch it as long as possible, then fold it back towards you.Resist the temptation to add too much extra flour as it could make the dough dry. Put the dough in an oiled mixing bowl, cover it loosely with oiled cling film and leave it until it has doubled in size.
Line a baking tray with parchment and dust with flour.
Tip the dough on to the baking tray. Stretch the dough very gently until it’s about 1ft long, then fold it in half and stretch again. Do the same thing twice more. This should help to give the dough a more holey texture.
After the third stretch, shape the dough into a long loaf shape and slash the top a few times with a sharp knife. Dust with a little flour and leave to prove in a warm place until it has risen again and feels light and puffy.
Preheat the oven to 240C/450F/Gas 8.
Bake the loaf for 20–25 minutes or until golden-brown and crusty.
The base should sound hollow when tapped. Cool on a wire rack.