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Title:Peasant Bread Made With Sponge
Category:Yeast Breads
Sub-Category:Yeast Bread
Peasant Bread Made with Sponge

2 loaves

Bread Sponge

The sponge can be refrigerated for one week or frozen for up to three months.

1 1/2 cups warm water (about 110 degrees F)
1/2 teaspoon active dry yeast
3 1/2 cups bread flour

In electric mixer, combine 1/4 cup water and yeast. Let stand until yeast is creamy, about 10 minutes. Add remaining water and flour, mixing on low speed 2 minutes. It will be the consistency of a wet dough.

Place in a lightly oiled bowl. Cover and let stand at room temperature for 24 hours. (If refrigerated or frozen, bring to room temperature before using).

Makes about 3 1/2 cups.

Peasant Bread
2 cups plus 1 tablespoon warm water (about 110 degrees F)
1 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 cup sponge, pulled into small pieces (recipe above)
6 cups bread flour
1/2 cup white, light or medium rye flour
1 tablespoon salt

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

In electric mixer, combine 1/4 cup water and yeast. Let stand until yeast is creamy, about 10 minutes. Add 1/2 cup more water and sponge. Mix on low speed using paddle attachment about 2 minutes.

Add flours, salt and remaining water. Mix 1 minute longer.

Using dough hook, mix on medium low speed, pulling dough from hook two or three times, until dough is soft and sticks to fingers when squeezed, about 8 minutes Or knead by hand, 15 to 20 minutes.

On a floured work surface, knead dough into a ball by hand, four or five turns. Place smooth side up in a lightly oiled bowl. Cover with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm place until tripled in bulk, about 3 hours.

Turn dough onto floured surface. Flour top and cut in half. Roll up one piece of dough lengthwise, flatten slightly and roll lengthwise again.

On an unfloured surface, cup your hands around the sides of the dough and move it in small, circular motions, until top of dough is rounded and bottom is smooth.

Flour a piece of parchment and place dough on it and cover loosely with oiled plastic wrap, then cover with a towel. Repeat process with second piece of dough.

Let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 50 minutes.

Thirty minutes before this final rise is completed, place a baking stone or baking sheet in the oven and an empty baking pan on the lowest shelf and heat oven.

Sprinkle dough with flour and dimple the surface with your fingertips and let rise 10 minutes more.

Using a baker's peel or baking sheet, slide loaves and parchment onto the baking stone or baking sheet. Pour 2 cups very hot water into the heated baking pan to create steam.

Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until dark golden brown and hollow sounding when tapped on the bottom. Transfer to a wire rack to cool for at least 30 minutes before slicing.

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