Rustic Country Artisan Bread

Rustic Made-From-Scratch Country Artisan Bread | Culinary Compost Recipes

This is a recipe adapted from the Tartine Bread Cookbook. Unlike the no-knead recipe featured here, you must knead and then proof the dough. The result is a bread with more rise and a fantastic soft and airy crumb texture. Try both recipes and see which one works best for you.

A five-quart cast-iron dutch oven with a tight-fitting cover is ideal for this recipe. Enjoy!



1.5 cups warm water (110-115°F)
1 tbs. white granulated sugar
1.5 tsp. active dry yeast
3 cups bread flour, leveled
1 cup, whole wheat pastry flour, leveled
1.5 tsp. table salt
bread flour, for dusting the dough work surface
Cornmeal for dusting the pot
XV olive oil


Measure the warm water and place in a quart Pyrex dish. Add the sugar and use a wooden spoon to stir and dissolve. Add the active dry yeast and stir gently. Let stand ten minutes until the surface starts to bubble.

While you are waiting, measure the flour and salt and add to a large mixing bowl. Using a wooden spatula, mix the dry ingredients. Slowly add the water, sugar and yeast mixture. Fold in with the spoon until the mixture starts to pull away from the bowl. Using your hands, carefully pull out the dough and continue kneading by hand for eight to ten minutes on a floured work surface. Add a bit more flour or water if necessary. The consistency of the dough should be tacky.

Gently form the dough into a ball and place in a separate bowl greased with a bit of olive oil, that is about three times the size of the dough ball. Cover with a dampened, warm towel. Place the dish in your oven and turn on the oven light. Allow to proof (rise) for two hours. The warm environment in your unheated oven with just the oven light on will allow the dough to rise perfectly.

After two hours, remove the dough ball and place back on your floured counter. Punch down the dough and gently fold it back in, forming a ball. Place back in the covered bowl and let stand for ten minutes so the gas caused by the yeast has a chance to reincorporate. After ten minutes place the ball on the floured counter and gently pull and fold over the dough in thirds. Pinch the seams together and place back in the bowl and let sit to rise again for 30-45 minutes. This stage is called the second proof.

During the last twenty minutes, remove the bowl from the oven and place on the cooktop. Preheat your oven to 450° F. Place an ungreased five-quart cast-iron dutch oven inside with the cover on. Preheat the pot.

After the second proof is done, carefully remove the pot from the oven and remove the lid. Sprinkle a bit of cornmeal on the bottom of the pot. Sprinkle the dough ball lightly with more flour and add to the preheated pot. Working quickly, carefully score two shallow slits in the top of the dough with a serrated paring knife. Cover and bake for 30 minutes.

After 30 minutes, uncover the pot. Reduce the heat to 375° F. Bake uncovered for an additional 9-10 minutes, until the internal temperature of the bread reads 200-204° F. Monitor closely during this time so it doesn’t overcook.

Carefully remove the bread and allow to cool for one hour on a wire baking rack. Using a serrated bread knife, cut and serve.

Makes one loaf. Serves 6-8

Note: An accurate instant-read digital probe thermometer is a must for this recipe.


Country Buttermilk Biscuits

This is a great recipe for southern-style country buttermilk biscuits. I’ve had great success using my Breville Sous Chef food processor. The buttermilk makes for richer, more flavorful biscuits.



2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting the countertop work surface
1⁄4 tsp. baking soda
1 tbs. baking powder
2 tsp. white sugar
1 tsp. table salt
6 tbs. cold unsalted butter
3/4 cup buttermilk (more if needed)
1/4 cup melted butter

Softened real butter for serving



Preheat your oven to 450°F. Combine the dry ingredients in a bowl, or in the work bowl of a food processor.
Cut the butter into small squares and add to the bowl. Using a pastry cutter, cut into the flour until it looks like coarse crumbs.
If using a food processor, use the pulse feature so you don’t overwork it. It will only take a few seconds. Add the buttermilk and mix until just combined. DO NOT overwork.
If it appears on the dry side, add a bit more buttermilk. The consistency should be wet.

Turn the dough out onto a floured board. Using your hands, gently pat down until the dough is 1/2″ thick. DO NOT use a rolling pin or your biscuits will not rise as high, and be dense. Fold the dough about 5 times, and gently press the dough down to 1″ thick. Use a round cutter to cut into ten rounds. The folding will produce a flaky, layered texture.
You can gently knead the scraps together and make a couple more, but they will not be as fluffy as the first ones.

Place the biscuits on a cookie sheet leaving about 1″ of space between each. The biscuits will rise higher if they are touching. Brush each with a bit of melted butter.

Bake for about 10-12 minutes (default to 10 minutes to ensure they don’t overcook.) When done, they will be a beautiful light golden brown on top and bottom.
Do not over bake.

Serve with softened real butter.


Makes 10-12 biscuits

Grandma’s Country-Fried Chicken

This is a tried-and-true recipe from my Northwoods Grandma. I’m sure it’s close to just about every other homestyle fried chicken recipe out there. My wife had adapted the recipe for use in an electric non-stick skillet, but you just can’t beat an heirloom antique cast-iron chicken fryer. If you’re lucky enough to own one with a cover, by all means, use it.

A note on the shortening — while not exactly healthy, Crisco® shortening is the traditional way to prepare this dish. You can also use vegetable oil in a pinch.  When done, the chicken should read 165° F. in the thickest part of the meat. It will be golden brown when completely cooked, with the juices running clear. Thighs will take longer to cook. Watch the wings so they don’t burn.

Enjoy, this is a recipe I’ve adored since I was a kid.



1 cut up whole fryer chicken, rinsed in cold water and patted dry
1 cup Crisco® vegetable shortening

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. table salt
2 tsp. onion powder
2 tsp. garlic granules
2 tsp. smoked paprika

2 cups room-temperature buttermilk

2 cups chicken stock
2 tbs. reserved flour from the dredge
4 tbs. drippings from the fried chicken
4 tbs. butter
Salt and pepper to taste



Prep the chicken and set aside on paper towels, ensuring the pieces are patted dry. Mix the flour dredge ingredients in a wide, deep mixing bowl. Add the buttermilk to another smaller bowl. Dip the chicken in the buttermilk. Then add the pieces to the seasoned flour and coat well. Shake off and place on a serving plate for five minutes. Place them back in the flour dredge, shake off and set aside for another five minutes. Reserve the flour for the gravy in the next step.

Preheat the Crisco shortening in a cast-iron chicken fryer so the temperature reads 325°. The shortening should cover about 3/4″ to 1″ of the bottom of the fryer.

Working in batches to avoid overcrowding, place the chicken pieces in the hot oil and sear until golden brown on one side, about 10-12 minutes. Cover during this process.
Carefully turn the chicken and sear again on the other side. TURN ONLY ONCE. Cover and cook for another 12-15 minutes until evenly golden-brown. Remove and place on a wire baker’s rack. Keep warm in your oven over a cookie sheet or in a covered serving dish set at 225° F.

Preparing the Gravy:
Reserve up to 4 tbs. drippings from the chicken fryer. Place in a heavy 10″ cast-iron pan over medium-low heat. Add the flour and butter. Whisk constantly for about ten minutes to form a golden roux. Add the chicken stock, salt and pepper. Increase the heat to medium and cook until reduced, about ten more minutes. Pour in a gravy boat and serve with mashed or boiled quartered potatoes.


Serves 4-6

Note: As an option, for even more flavorful chicken, brine it overnight in buttermilk, salt and some hot sauce. Place 2 cups buttermilk in a sealable container with 1 tbs. salt and a few dashes of Tabasco. Mix well, add the chicken, cover and let sit for at least 12 hours. The next day, when ready to fry, you can skip the buttermilk step shown above.

Chicken-Fried Steak with White Gravy

From most references, the history of this recipe originated somewhere in Texas during the Depression Era. Other accounts indicate that it came from the German people who settled in the Lone Star state around 1844-50.

The first written reference to “chicken-fried steak” appeared around 1952. This is an entirely-Southern inspired dish which is very economical to prepare. Serve with mashed potatoes and grilled corn-on-the-cob. Enjoy!


1/3 cup vegetable oil or 1/2 stick real butter
2 lb. tenderized round steak
Meat tenderizer to coat steak
1 cup all-purpose flour for dredge (reserve 3 tbs. after for gravy)
1/4 cup corn starch
2 tsp. salt (or Lawry’s seasoned salt), to taste
1 tsp. fresh-ground black pepper
Dash of cayenne pepper, to taste
1 tsp. garlic powder
4 eggs, beaten
2 1/2 cups milk, warmed to room temperature
1 small onion, cut in rings
Dash of Worchestershire sauce


Put the flour, corn starch, garlic powder, salt cayenne and black pepper in a shallow dish reserved for dredging the meat. Mix well.

Beat the four eggs and place in another shallow dish large enough to coat each side of the steaks.

Round steak by nature is a slightly tougher cut of meat. Try to buy round steak that has been run through a tenderizer by your butcher. If this is not possible, you can use a meat mallet and pound each side. If the steaks are large, cut each in half. Sprinkle both sides with meat tenderizer and set aside on a plate and allow to warm up to room temperature.

Preheat a large 12″ cast-iron skillet (please, no other skillet will produce the same results with this recipe) to medium heat and lightly spray with non-stick cooking oil.

Dredge the steaks in flour, then the egg (ensuring that they are evenly coated) then back into the flour and place in the skillet with enough vegetable oil or butter to just coat the bottom surface. Increase heat to medium high and brown each side about 4-5 minutes. Work in batches, cooking two steaks at a time. Add more butter or oil if needed. Fry the sliced onion until lightly carmelized.

If the heat is too high, the batter will come off the steaks. Turning them only once will ensure the batter sticks.

When steaks and onion are done, remove from skillet, reduce heat to medium-low and reserve in a heated covered baking dish or dutch oven placed in your oven at 275 degrees.


In the same skillet, reserve three tbs. of the pan drippings. Add three tbs. of the reserved seasoned flour and three tbs of butter. Stir with a spatula until mixed. Add the milk and a dash of worchestershire sauce.

Increase heat and bring gravy to a low simmer, stirring constantly to deglaze the skillet. Taste and correct the seasoning if necessary. When thickened, transfer the gravy to a serving dish.

When ready, spoon gravy over steak and mashed potatoes.

Serves 4-6.

NOTE: For more flavor, add a small amount of rendered bacon fat to the pan when frying the steaks. It will create a richer gravy.