Country bread jb

Yield: 2 Loaves

Measure Ingredient
¼ teaspoon Active dry yeast
¼ cup Warm water (100-110F)
3⅓ cup Unbleached all-purpose flour
1¾ cup Cups cold water (below 60F)
3½ \N To 4 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup Room-temperature water
3½ teaspoon Salt



TO MAKE SPONGE: 1. In a small bowl, sprinkle yeast over warm water. Let stand for 5 minutes. 2. In a large mixing bowl, combine flour and cold water until partially mixed. Scrape yeast mixture into flour mixture. Stir 100 times in one direction. 3. Cover with plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature (appx 70F) for about 12 hours or overnight. (The sponge is ready when small bubbles cover its surface and it appears thinner than at the start.)

TO MAKE DOUGH: 1. Place 3½ cups flour in a large bowl; make a well in the center. Scrape sponge into well; set bowl aside. Stir, gradually incorporating flour into sponge. 2. Rinse sponge bowl with 1 cup water, scraping down sides with a rubber spatula. Gradually add the rinsing liquid to the flour-sponge mixture, stirring well between additions. 3. Turn dough out onto a surface dusted with some of the remaining flour. Knead, gradually incorporating additional flour, until dough is smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes. (You may not need all the remaining flour.) Gather into a mound and cover with plastic wrap or a damp towel. Let rest for 15 minutes. 4. Flatten dough and sprinkle with salt. Knead until salt is fully incorporated and dough feels soft and elastic, 5-10 minutes. Shape into a ball. 5. Place dough in lightly oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise until doubled, about 1 hour. 6. Punch down dough and reshape into a ball. Cover again and let rise, at room temp, until more than doubled, 1-1 ½ hours. 7. Lightly dust the underside of a large baking sheet with flour. Divide dough in half and form into 2 round loaves. Place loaves 4 inches apart on the prepared upside-down baking sheet; lightly cover with plastic wrap. Let rise in the refrigerator for 8 hours or overnight.

TO BAKE: 1. Preheat oven to 500F or highest setting. Have ready a clean spray bottle filled with water. 2. Just before baking, slash a crosshatch desing into the top of each loaf with a sharp knife. Spray lightly with water. 3. Bake loaves for 15 mintues, lightly spraying with water every 4-5 minutes. (Be careful to avoid spraying the oven light!) Reduce oven temp to 425F; bake, without spraying, for 15-20 mintues more, or until loaves are golden and sound hollow when tapped on the bottom with your knuckles.

4. Transfer loaves to a wire rack and cool completely.

Bread keeps at room temp in a paper bag or kitchen towel (not plastic bag) for up to 3 days, or frozen, well-wrapped for up to 6 weeks.

Reprinted from Eating Well Magazine, October 1997.

Posted to MM-Recipes Digest V4 #287 by Julie Bertholf <jewel1@...> on Nov 03, 1997

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