Horiatiko Psomi: Crusty Country Bread

Slices of country bread
Elke Selzle / Getty Images
  • 3 hrs 50 mins
  • Prep: 3 hrs 20 mins,
  • Cook: 30 mins
  • Yield: 12-16 Servings
Ratings (29)

In Greek: χωριάτικο ψωμί, pronounced hoh-ree-AH-tee-koh psoh-MEE

In villages around Greece, this classic bread is still baked in outdoor wood-burning ovens. This bread is more dense than other types of bread (the loaf at right measures about 13 inches across and weighs a little more than 2 pounds) and can be made with a variety of flours or a combination of more than one. If you have your own sourdough starter, use 1/2 pound (slightly less than one cup for most starters) in place of the yeast in the recipe.

What You'll Need

  • 1 ounce of fresh yeast or 2 tablespoons of dry yeast
  • 1/2 cup (4 fl.oz) of lukewarm water
  • 1/2 cup (62g) of flour (whatever type used for bread)
  • 2 1/5 pounds (1 kilo / 8 cups) of bread flour (whole wheat, barley, white, corn, or other)
  • 1 tablespoon of salt
  • 2 1/2 cups (20 fl.oz) of lukewarm water
  • 2 tablespoons of milk
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons of honey

How to Make It

In a small bowl, dissolve the yeast in lukewarm water. Slowly add the 1/2 cup of flour and mix until all lumps of flour have dissolved, to form a thick liquid. Allow to rise about 15-20 minutes.

  • Note: If using sourdough starter, omit this step, and make a sponge with 1/2 pound of starter, the 1/2 cup of lukewarm water, and 1/2 cup of flour. Set aside to rise for 2 hours.

Sift the remaining flour with the salt, put in a large mixing bowl, and make a well in the center.

Add oil, honey, milk, yeast mixture (or sourdough starter), and 2 cups of the water in the well. Pulling in the flour slowly, mix with hands until it's a cohesive mass. (If more water is needed, add in small amounts from the remaining 1/2 cup.) Turn out onto a floured surface and continue kneading until the dough is nice and smooth and no longer sticks to the hands.

Place the dough in a lightly oiled mixing bowl and roll until all sides of the dough are lightly oiled. Cover the bowl with 3 dishtowels: one dry, one dampened with warm water (wet towel and wring out), and the other dry. Place in a warm place and allow to rise until doubled, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

Punch down and knead for 5-6 minutes on a floured surface. Divide the dough into the number of loaves you want to make (this works well in 3-4 loaves), and form into round or oblong or baguette shaped loaves. Place several inches apart on ungreased cookie sheets and cover with 3 clean dishtowels (the middle one damp). In a warm place, allow the loaves to rise for 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 450F (220C).

  • Note: The baking temperature has been adjusted down in response to reader comments.

For a thicker crust, score the tops of the loaves in 3 or 4 places (see photo). Otherwise, bake as is on the rack just below the middle of the oven for 30-35 minutes until browned. When tapped on the bottom, bread will sound hollow.

When the loaves are done, remove from oven and cool on racks.

Notes:

  • Use a good "strong" flour - i.e., hard flour, also known as bread flour.
  • If the honey you're using is very thick, place the jar in a saucepan containing 1 inch of water and warm.
  • No honey on hand, or don't care for it? Leave it out.

Reader Comments:

Teresa writes: "Last weekend I made your Crusty Country Bread and it turned out great! ... The only thing I will change next time is to add a little more salt and lower the oven temperature to 450 as the 465 temp was just too high resulting in quite brown bread."

Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
Calories 303
Total Fat 7 g
Saturated Fat 2 g
Unsaturated Fat 2 g
Cholesterol 2 mg
Sodium 983 mg
Carbohydrates 51 g
Dietary Fiber 3 g
Protein 9 g
(The nutrition information on our recipes is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate. Individual results may vary.)