A really good loaf of daily bread is something I’m always on the lookout for. I appreciate bakers who take the time to make bread full of flavour and yeasty aromas. Some of my favorite crusty sourdough and rye loaves in Melbourne are from Der Partisan Bakery (87 Homes St, Brunswick), Natural Tucker, Nth Carlton; Baker Di Chirico, Carlton and St Kilda; the Convent Bakery, Abbotsford and Tivoli Bakery, Sth Yarra. There are wonderful loaves to be got in country Victoria also: Red Beard Bakery, Trentham; the cellar door/restaurant Innocent Bystander on the Maroondah Hwy, Healesville and Cannibal Creek Bakehouse in Garfield, Vic. While these places are miles away, it’s great to know I can pick up Cannibal Creek’s fantastic 90% rye on the 1st and 3rd Sat of each month at the recently opened Carlton Farmers Market and I make sure I start any winery trip to the Yarra Valley with a coffee and bread pick up at Healesville. Making your own crusty loaf is easy. Make the mix and go to the beach, to work or to bed and bake it when you are ready. You can leave the mix from 4 – 12 hours. The secret to making this simple crusty bread is to bake it in a cast iron casserole. This gives it just the right amount of humidity to create a wonderful crust normally achieved with a steam injected bakers oven. It works so much better than spraying the oven wall with water or leaving a tray of water in the bottom of the oven.
Mix 3 cups white bread flour and 1 cup rye flour, 1 tsp salt and 1 tsp yeast well. Add water and mix to form a stiff porridge consistency. Cover with plastic wrap and forget about it for at least 4 hours. Heat a cast iron pot with lid (Le Crueset or similar) in the oven at 200 °C. Dust the now risen dough with flour and shape into a loaf. When the oven temperature is reached place the dough inside the hot pot, slash the top of the dough with a sharp knife and bake with the lid on for 30 minutes. Remove the lid and bake for a further 20 minutes. You will get a beautifully baked crusty loaf that looks like you bought it from some artisan bakery. Just remember to heat the pot well – don’t put the dough into a cold cast iron pot and then bake it because you’ll never get the loaf out of the pot. Check the recipes tab for my step by step picture guide.