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Saturday, March 6, 2010

How to Make Rustic Country Bread

Sponge;

1/2 tsp active dry yeast (not rapid rise)
1 cup water
1 cup bread flour
1 cup whole wheat

Dough;

3 1/2 cups bread flour
1/2 cup rye flour
1 1/2 cups water (room temp)
2 tbs honey
2 tsp salt
coarse cornmeal to sprinkle on peel {A flat, smooth, shovel like tool used to slide pizzas and yeast breads onto a BAKING STONE or BAKING SHEET in an oven.}

Sponge;

Sit out your 1 cup of water and allow it to reach room temp. Takes about 20 minutes.

Once your water comes to room temperature, mix the yeast with water in a bowl until dissolved, add the two flours and use a rubber spatula to pull the water through the flour and mix the two flours. You will end up with this.
This would be your sponge. Cover and set aside. We will come back to it in 5 hours or over night.

Our sponge has sat for 5 hours now.

On top of this you will want to add all but 2 cups of the bread flour, and all the remaining ingredients. Use a wooden spoon to mix and build up the gluten, 5 minutes.

Work in the remaining flour before turning out onto a floured surface. Dough will be sticky, but here is where most people make their mistakes, do not add any more then 1/4 cup of extra flour, and do not kneed bread longer than required. As I said it will be sticky, just pat your hands in the 1/4 cup flour as needed. The dough will become silky after a few minutes. Knead your bread for a total of 5 minutes, before placing into a lightly greased bowl, cover and allow to triple in size, 2 hours.

Two hours have passed, and your dough should be tripled in size. Turn it out onto a floured surface, and round it.


Flour a cheesecloth or linen and line a colander. Place rounded dough in, cover with foil and allow to double in size, 45 minutes.

In the meantime, place an empty pan onto the lower rack of your oven, and preheat the oven to 450F.

After you have allowed the dough to double in size sprinkle your peel with corn meal. If you do not have a stone or brick oven, you will not need to do this. But you do need a baking stone, sprinkle the corn meal directly onto this.

Invert the colander over the stone and gently set the dough down. Carefully remove the linen or cheesecloth.

Pour 2 cups water into the preheat pot we placed in earlier. Place 3 slits onto the top of the dough, and slide into the oven. Bake for 25 minutes, turn and bake for another 10 minutes. Turn off oven and open the door, allow bread to sit in the oven for another 10 minutes

Remove from oven and allow to cool 2 hours before cutting