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Ingredients Jump to Instructions ↓

  1. Sponge:

  2. 1 envelope (1/4 ounce) active dry yeast

  3. 1 1/2 cups warm water (105 to 110)

  4. 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

  5. Dough:

  6. 3/4 cup coarsely ground whole wheat flour

  7. 1 cup warm water (105 to 110)

  8. 1 tablespoon coarse salt

  9. About 6 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

  10. 1 egg white, lightly beaten

  11. Sesame seeds, poppy seeds, cracked wheat or flour, for topping

  12. Make the sponge about 12 hours ahead: In a large bowl, dissolve the yeast

  13. 1/4 cup of the warm water. Let stand for 5 minutes. Stir in the

  14. remaining 1 1/4 cups water and the flour, beating by hand or in a mixer

  15. with a dough hook for 1 minute. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let

  16. 12 to 14 hours.

  17. Make the dough: Stir the whole wheat flour, warm water, salt and about 4

  18. cups of the all-purpose flour into the sponge until the dough becomes

  19. hard to work, then turn it out onto a well-floured surface. Let the dough

  20. rest while you clean the bowl. Now start kneading, slapping the dough

  21. around, scraping it up, gradually adding about 1 1/2 cups more all-purpose

  22. 8 to 10 minutes.

  23. Return the dough to the bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let rise at

  24. room temperature until almost triped in volume, about 2 hours.

  25. Turn the dough out again onto a floured surface, punch it down, and tear

  26. Divide the remaining dough in half and shape each piece into a 1 1/2 inch

  27. thick disk. With the palms of your hands, coax the sides of each disk

  28. down and under all around, stretching the gluten cloak and plumping up

  29. each loaf into a round shape. Pinch together the seams on the bottom

  30. and place the rounds seam-side down on 2 lightly greased baking sheets.

  31. Cover loosely with a towel and let rise until doubled in volume, about 1 hour.

  32. Preheat the oven to 450F. Paint the top and sides of the risen loaves

  33. 3 minutes and again after

  34. 6 minutes. Bake for a total of

  35. 15 minutes. Then reduce the oven temperature to

  36. 350F and bake for 20 minutes longer, or until the bread sounds hollow when the bottom is tapped. Turn the oven off and let the bread rest in the hot oven for 15 minutes. Remove to a rack and let cool.

  37. 6 ounces

  38. 1 1/2 cups of warm water. This is the levain, which will go into the next

  39. loaf. Let stand at room temperature for 12 hours, then refrigerate. The

  40. levain will keep for up to 10 days; freeze for longer storage.

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