Rustic boules or round loaves have been made for thousands of years by people all over Europe. It is one of the oldest forms of bread making there is. Round loaves used to be cooked in simple clay ovens. The fire would be built inside the hollow oven then swept out once the clay walls were very hot. The bread would then be placed on the hot oven floor and the openings were stopped up to trap the heat and steam inside, giving the bread a nice crunchy crust. As the oven gradually cooled, the bread would gradually stop cooking, giving the inside a tender crumb. This recipe uses a technique that simulates this ancient way of baking, but in reverse. The bread goes in a cold oven to help it rise more than it would at room temperature. Placing the bread in a heavy stock pot or dutch oven helps trap the moisture to get a nice crisp crust. The bread finishes at a high temperature to brown the outside.
This recipe makes a 1-lb loaf. You can double the recipe for a larger loaf.
Rustic Boule Bread Recipe
Mix together in a medium bowl:
225g gluten-free bread flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 TBSP sugar
1 package yeast
In the bowl of your stand mixer, whisk together:
1 egg at room temperature or warmer*
3/4 C warm water (100-115 degrees F)
2 tsp apple cider vinegar
When the wet ingredients are thoroughly whisked together, add:
15g whole psyllium husk (or 10g ground psyllium husk)
Whisk the psyllium husk into the wet ingredients until the mixture begins to thicken, 1-2 minutes. Start adding the dry ingredients spoonful by spoonful until the mixture starts to come together. If you are using a stand mixer then switch to the dough hook. If you are mixing by hand then start to knead. Keep adding the dry ingredients bit by bit until the dough starts to clean the side of the bowl.
If there is still a lot of flour left, you can add 1 Tbsp warm water and 3 Tbsp flour and knead that into the dough. Add flour again bit by bit until the dough cleans the side of the bowl again.
Use any extra flour to flour a banneton basket or a medium bowl. Form a cohesive ball of dough with your hands and place it in the floured basket seam side up. Cover and let the dough rise in a warm place for 40 minutes. Carefully invert the dough into a dutch oven or heavy stock pot. Cut slits in the top of the loaf about 1/4 inch deep.
Place the covered pot into a COLD oven. Turn the oven on to 450 degrees F and cook the bread for 30 minutes, or until it is done. When the bread is cooked through it will sound hollow when tapped on the bottom.
Enjoy some rustic bread!
* To make this recipe egg-free, just omit the egg and use an additional 1/4 cup water.