Rustic Country Bread Recipe, Autolyse Method

Sometimes you just want a rustic bread.

This one is made with a lot of water, resulting in a loose crumb with many little bubbles. It will keep fresh for a good few days because we are using a preferment. The wholemeal flour adds complexity to the flavour and the preferment adds acidity. It is a great little loaf.

The high hydration requires use of the stretch and fold method when kneading. While at first it may feel like a sticky, soggy mess – keep at it! The autolyse does help with gluten development here, but it is till wet and sticky. Wet your hands once in a while, but do not use too much water as it will make the dough even stickier. 

If you do not feel confident handling such a sticky dough, then you can lower the amount of water in the final dough by 20g – 30g (0.7g – 1oz).

Around 8 minutes of kneading should be sufficient. Alternatively you could use a mixer for around the same amount of time on low to medium speed. Just watch the dough temperature as you do not want it to be too warm.

Watch the video down below for detailed instructions.


For the preferment (poolish)

70g (2.5oz) strong white bread flour

30g (1oz) wholemeal flour

Pinch of yeast

100g (3.5oz) water at around 21C (70F)


For the main dough

250g (8.8oz) strong white bread flour

50g (1.75oz) wholemeal flour

8g (0.3oz) salt

3g (0.1oz) dry yeast or 3x the amount of fresh yeast

10g (0.35oz) sugar

220g (7.75oz) water at around 7C (45F)

To learn more about dough temperature when using a preferment click here.


  1. Make the preferment by mixing the water, pinch of yeast and both white and wholemeal flour. Cover and ferment for 10 – 16 hours or until doubled.
  2. Autolyse the flour by mixing the remaining water, remaining wholemeal and white flour. Sprinkle over the salt and sugar, dimple in with a wet hand.
  3. Cover & hydrate for 1 hour.
  4. Pour the yeast into the preferment, mix well. Add to the dough and combine.
  5. Tip out on your table and knead using the stretch & fold method for around 8 minutes. Or 500 turns if you want to count. Desired dough temperature 24 – 25C (75-77F). If your dough is cooler it will ferment more slowly. If it is warmer, then it will ferment more rapidly. Adjust the proofing time accordingly.
  6. Cover & ferment for 45 minutes to 1 hour.
  7. Fold.
  1. Ferment for another 45 minutes to 1 hour.
  2. Shape into a round loaf. Place on a piece of parchment paper.
  3. Cover & ferment for 45 minutes to 1 hour or until almost doubled. During this time preheat your oven and baking vessel (if using) to 220C (430F) no fan.
  4. Score the dough with a sharp knife or razor blade. Bake for 35 – 40 minutes.


Watch the video here

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