Rustic Country French Bread

Sponge Starter - In a large bowl, dissolve the yeast in the lukewarm water until it becomes cloudy and no grains of yeast are visible. Stir in the remainder of the ingredients forming a thick paste. Cover the bowl with oiled plastic wrap and leave it in a warm area anywhere from 2 hours to overnight. I'd pick the overnight option, but that's just me. The Dough Stir the yeast into a bowl with the lukewarm water until it becomes cloudy and no grains of yeast are visible. Deflate the “sponge” gently and stir in the yeast water mixture along with the sugar, salt and about ¾ of the flour. Knead the dough, adding more flour as necessary to make a soft pliable dough. Usually about 10 to 12 minutes. Place the dough in a “lightly greased” bowl and cover it with “lightly greased” plastic wrap. Place a tea towel over top the bowl and let it rise until it has doubled in size. This could be anywhere from 1 to 2 hours. Once the dough has risen, punch it down softly. Don't knock all the air out of it. That is where those big holes develop in our “French Bread”. Here's where a choice comes in .. you could form the dough into a round ball OR Cut the dough in half and form it into two loaves. Your choice. Regardless of which way you go, place the loaf/loaves on a parchment paper covered baking sheet that has been dusted with corn meal. Cover it lightly with a tea towel and let it rise again in a warm place. The second rise can take between an hour or two depending a lot on weather. Once the second rise is complete, preheat your oven to 475 degrees. Next, slash the top of the loaf/loaves in any design that says “Hey I made this bread” and give it a quick dusting of flour. Once the oven reaches temperature, spritz water into it and place the bread in the oven. Reduce the temperature to 425 degrees all the while spritzing water for the first 15 minutes of baking time. After the spritz, Bake the bread for about 25 to 30 minutes or until it tests done. Thumping the loaf with the back of a spoon is a great way of testing bread. When done, you should hear a hollow thump as you bump it. My Grandma Florence taught me that trick and the water spritzing for crunchy crusts .. they both work perfect! I sincerely hope you try this recipe. It's a favorite for me and my family and I'm certain it will become your favorite as well!  
Rustic French Bread
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Servings:  2 loaves
Prep Time: 
Total Time:  2 days

Related Categories:   Breads,  


Sponge Starter (Build it 2 to 12 hours or more ahead) 1-cup Lukewarm Water ½-tsp Active Dry Yeast 1 ¼-cup Unbleached Bread Flour ¼-cup Whole Wheat Flour The Dough All of the “Sponge Starter” from above 1-cup Lukewarm Water ¾-tsp Active Dry Yeast 1-tbs Sugar 1-tbs Salt 3 ¾ to 4-cups Bread Flour

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