Thursday, February 11, 2010

Hand Mixed Country Loaves

This is a start the night before bread. And it could actually be a no knead bread as well, but I prefer texture of kneaded bread. I also really love the process of kneading. To me, it makes bread making feel like bread making. Hope you try this recipe and enjoy it.

1 1/2 cups lukewarm water
1 teaspoon honey
1 packet of active dry yeast
2 cups all purpose flour

1 2/3 cup lukewarm water
1 1/2 cup whole-wheat flour
5-6 cups all purpose flour
1 tablespoon salt

cornmeal for baking sheet
1 egg white for glaze

Make the starter the night before:
In a large bowl, mix the water and honey and sprinkle the yeast over the top. Let stand until foamy.

Add flour and stir vigorously for about a minute. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and a clean kitchen towel and leave in a warm place overnight.

The next day, to make the dough: To the starter add the water, whole wheat flour, 4 cups of the all purpose flour, and the salt. Stir until the mixture is smooth. Gradually stir in the remaining flour 1 cup at a time (if needed. I only used about 5 cups of all purpose flour) Knead on a lightly floured surface until dough is smooth and elastic

Oil a large bowl , add the dough, and turn to coat it. Cover with a clean, damp, non-fuzzy cloth and let the dough rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 2 hours.

Punch the dough down and divide in half. Shape each half into a large round loaf.

Sprinkle a large baking sheet with cornmeal. I just used some flour on my very old baking stone and it worked great.

Cover with the same damp cloth and let it rise until doubled again, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

Preheat oven to 425. Paint the tops of the loaves with egg white carefully. Bake the bread. I used a spray bottle and every few minutes spritzed the inside of the oven with water to keep the humidity level in my oven high. After 15 minutes, lower the heat to 350 and bake for another 20 minutes. Let the bread rest and cool on wire racks.

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