Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Peasant Bread

3 cups lukewarm water
1 1/2 T granulated active dry yeast (2 packets)
2 T kosher salt
1 cup rye flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
4 1/2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
cornmeal for the pizza peel
Preparing the dough:
Mixing and storing the dough: Mix the yeast and salt with the water in a 5 quart bowl, or a lidded (not airtight) food container.

Mix in the remaining dry ingredients without kneading, using a spoon. You may need to use wet hands to incorporate the last bit of flour. No need for a mixer here. Cover (not airtight) and allow to rest at room temperature until the dough rises and collapses (or flattens on top) approximately 2 hours.

The dough can be used immediately after the initial rise, though it is easier to handle when cold. Refrigerate in a lidded (not airtight) container and use over the next 14 days.

When ready to bake, dust the surface of the refrigerated dough with flour and cut off a 1 pound (grapefruit sized) piece. Dust with more flour and quickly shape it into a ball by stretching the surface of the dough around to the bottom on all four sides, rotating the ball a quarter turn as you go. Allow to rest and rise on a cornmeal covered pizza peel for 40 minutes.

Preheat oven to 500 degrees F. Place a baking stone on the middle rack. Remove baking racks above the stone.

Sprinkle the loaf liberally with flour and slash a cross, scallop, or tic-tac-toe pattern into the top, using a serrated bread knife. Leave the flour in place for baking, but tap off after baking, before slicing. Slide the loaf directly onto the hot stone.

Throw 1 cup of hot tap water into the bottom of the oven and quickly close the oven door. Bake for about 35 minutes until the top crust is very brown and firm. Let cool before slicing or eating.
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