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Weekend Project: Crusty Country Loaf

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Cold winter weekends are the perfect excuse to cozy up inside with a baking project. This one will make your kitchen smell like heaven: a country-style loaf of bread baked in a stoneware cloche, with a golden brown crust and a tender crumb. The time-tested recipe comes from our founder, Chuck Williams, who fell in love with the rustic country loaves he first tried in France and Italy. The secret is in the cloche: it duplicates the even, intense heat produced by a brick-lined oven.

 

Crusty Country Loaf

1 package active dry yeast

1 tsp. sugar

1 3/4 cups warm water (110°F), plus more as needed

5 cups (1 lb. 9 oz.) country French, rustic wheat or all-purpose flour, plus more as needed

1 Tbs. salt

Cornmeal for sprinkling

 

In a small bowl, dissolve the yeast and sugar in 1/4 cup of the warm water and let stand until bubbly, 5 to 10 minutes.

 

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the dough hook, combine the 5 cups flour and the salt and beat on low speed for 30 seconds. Add the yeast mixture and the remaining 1 1/2 cups water and beat until thoroughly combined, 6 to 8 minutes, adding more water or flour if needed. Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface and knead until soft, silky and elastic.

 

Spray the inside of the mixer bowl with nonstick cooking spray and return the dough to the bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, 45 to 60 minutes. Punch down the dough and transfer to a work surface. Knead the dough a few times. Let the dough rest for 5 minutes, then shape into a ball.

 

Sprinkle the base of a round bread cloche with cornmeal and place the ball of dough in the center. Cover with the lid and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, 45 to 60 minutes.

 

Preheat an oven to 450°F.

 

Using a sharp knife, cut several slashes on top of the loaf. Cover the cloche, transfer to the oven and bake for 15 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 400°F and continue baking until the bread is crusty, golden brown and sounds hollow when tapped, 30 to 40 minutes more, removing the lid during the last 5 to 10 minutes of baking. Transfer the loaf to a wire rack and serve while still warm. Makes 1 loaf.

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Recipe Roundup: Thanksgiving Stuffing

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When it comes to Thanksgiving dinner, everyone has their personal favorites, but it’s safe to say stuffing is at the top of most lists. This savory casserole of hearty bread baked with seasonal vegetables and rich stock is homey and comforting, whether it’s cooked inside the bird or out. Here are some of our best renditions of the side dish we look forward to year after year.

 

Gluten-Free Stuffing with Bacon and KaleGluten-Free Stuffing with Bacon and Kale
Those who avoid eating gluten don’t need to be deprived of the quintessential Thanksgiving side when they use our gluten-free stuffing mix. The addition of hearty kale and fragrant bacon means that everyone will be fighting over the last serving.
Jalapeño Cornbread Stuffing with Chorizo and PepitasJalapeño Cornbread Stuffing with Chorizo and Pepitas
This slightly spicy Southwestern-inspired stuffing will add some unexpected heat to the Thanksgiving table. Be sure to buy fresh (uncooked) Mexican chorizo rather than the cured Spanish variety.
Focaccia Stuffing with Leeks and Wild MushroomsFocaccia Stuffing with Leeks and Wild Mushrooms
Here, wild mushrooms and leeks add an extra depth of flavor to a focaccia-based stuffing for a satisfying Thanksgiving side.
Focaccia Stuffing with Chestnuts, Bacon and ApplesFocaccia Stuffing with Chestnuts, Bacon and Apples
Our Italian-inspired focaccia stuffing mix forms the foundation of this sensational stuffing. For added crunch and savory flavor, we add in roasted chestnuts, bacon and chunks of sweet apple.
Chestnut and Chanterelle Dressing with Chive BiscuitsChestnut and Chanterelle Dressing with Chive Biscuits
This dish from Chefs Bryan and Michael Voltaggiouses homemade chive biscuits as the foundation of the stuffing. Additions of chestnuts and mild chanterelle mushrooms add a taste of autumn.
Herbed Quinoa and Red Rice Stuffing with Kale and Pine NutsHerbed Quinoa and Red Rice Stuffing with Kale and Pine Nuts
Gluten-free whole grains can make a wonderful, hearty stuffing, as this recipe proves. Here, we add healthful Tuscan kale and fresh oregano, plus pine nuts for a bit of crunch.
Crunchy Bread Dressing with Bacon and LeeksCrunchy Bread Dressing with Bacon and Leeks
This simple stuffing combines crisp, savory bacon with rustic country bread and a medley of vegetables. Don’t let the basic ingredient list fool you — it’s packed with flavor.
Gluten-Free Spoon Bread with GuancialeGluten-Free Spoon Bread with Guanciale
This hearty side is made with Blackberry Farm’s Gluten-Free Cornbread Mix, so it makes a creative alternative to traditional cornbread. Michael Sullivan, the butcher at farm, adds guanciale, an unsmoked Italian bacon made from the pig’s jowl, to the batter before baking, although thick-cut bacon is a great stand-in.
Hazelnut and Shiitake Mushroom StuffingHazelnut and Shiitake Mushroom Stuffing
Shiitake mushrooms and hazelnuts make this aromatic dish stand out, but it’s the deeply flavorful onions, cooked with sherry vinegar and honey, that are the secret to its success.
Corn Bread-Apricot Dressing with RosemaryCorn Bread-Apricot Dressing with Rosemary
Dried apricots add an unexpected but welcome sweetness to this stuffing, accented with a range of fresh herbs.
Gluten-Free Focaccia Stuffing with Mushrooms and FennelGluten-Free Focaccia Stuffing with Mushrooms and Fennel
You can still enjoy the rich flavor of focaccia if you’re avoiding wheat. The secret is our gluten-free focaccia stuffing (bonus: this recipe is vegetarian, too!)
Smoky Bacon-Biscuit DressingSmoky Bacon-Biscuit Dressing
In this savory dressing, homemade cream biscuits stand in for the traditional bread, while crispy bacon adds delicious smoky flavor.
Corn Bread Dressing with ChestnutsCorn Bread Dressing with Chestnuts
Here, toasted corn bread soaks up the flavors of turkey stock and vegetable juices, while dried cranberries and chestnuts add sweetness and texture.
Apple, Shallot and Herb DressingApple, Shallot and Herb Dressing
Fresh apples, refreshing fennel and sturdy celery root lend their unique characteristics to this vegetarian stuffing.
Corn Bread and Ham Stuffing with Caramelized Apples and FennelCorn Bread and Ham Stuffing with Caramelized Apples and Fennel
The saltiness of the ham plays off the sweetness of the apples, fennel and corn bread in this hearty stuffing. To streamline prep, the recipe relies on ourstuffing mix, made from corn bread, wheat bread, and aromatic sage and thyme.