The key to a good bread crust is a rush of steam when the loaves are first placed in the hot oven, Camille Storch said.
Storch adapted this recipe from The Il Fornaio Baking Book. It includes a healthy dose of whole-wheat flour and rolled oats, along with enough white flour to give it good rising power. The rolled-oat coating on the outside is mostly decorative, but it adds a rustic touch.
You will need two cast-iron skillets in which to bake your loaves, a cast-iron steam implement, and two fire bricks or other barriers to keep the bottom of your skillets insulated from the direct heat of the grill.
"I use a cast-iron pan with 12 star-shaped reservoirs as my steam-making implement, but you could use any cast-iron muffin/corn bread pan," Storch said. "An extra cast-iron skillet would probably do the trick in a pinch, but something with more surface area will be able to produce more steam."
Bread on the grill
1 cups rolled oats
2 cups cool water, divided
1½ teaspoons active dry yeast
1 cup warm water
2 teaspoons salt
2 cups unbleached bread flour
5 cups whole-wheat flour
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons honey
Additional bread flour for work surface
Additional olive oil for bowl
About 3/4 cup rolled oats for outside coating
Medium-grind cornmeal for cast-iron pans
In a small bowl, soak 1 cup rolled oats in 1 cup cool water for 30 minutes. In a separate bowl, sprinkle yeast over warm water and allow to dissolve, about 15 minutes.
In a large bowl, mix salt and flours. Add soaked oats, yeast mixture, 1 cup cool water, olive oil and honey. Stir with wooden spoon until thoroughly combined. Turn out dough on floured work surface. Knead, adding flour as necessary to avoid stickiness. After about 15 minutes, it should start to look and feel uniformly smooth and springy.
Place dough in large, oiled bowl and turn it a couple times to coat entire surface. Cover with towel and set bowl in warm place to rise until doubled, about 1 hour. Punch air out of dough, return it to bowl, and cover. Again allow dough to rise until doubled, 45 minutes to 1 hour.
Turn dough out on a work surface. Divide dough in two equal portions. Punch air out of each section and work dough into a ball, stretching skin from top to bottom. Brush top and sides of each ball with water. Spread thin layer of rolled oats on your work surface, and gently roll each moistened dough ball in oats until loaf is covered (except the bottom) with oats.
Dust cast-iron skillets with a layer of cornmeal to prevent sticking, and gently place a loaf in each skillet. Cover with towel and allow to rise until doubled again, about 50 minutes.
Now is the time to prepare and preheat the barbecue. In the center of the grill, place your steam-producing implement. On the sides of your steaming implement, place two fire bricks or other barriers that will prevent your bread from burning on the bottom. Preheat everything on high for about 30 minutes.
When dough has finished its final rise, open barbecue and arrange skillets so they are mostly over the bricks and the steam-producing implement is mostly exposed. Make sure lid can close all the way. Pour water on steam implement as quickly as possible without dousing the dough itself, then close lid. Take the necessary precautions to avoid getting burned by the steam.
Turn down heat to medium or medium-low (when in doubt, turn it down). About 40 to 45 minutes later, bread should be golden brown with a crusty exterior and a soft crumb on the inside.
Makes 2 large loaves.