Baking bread is one of my favorite weekend projects. For this rustic loaf, I like to mix my starter on a Friday night and wake up to the smell of yeast in the morning. The dough comes together quickly, and a few short hours later you have a wonderful country bread.
This is an easy bread to make, even if you have a fear of yeast. It’s also extremely flavorful, thanks to the starter. If you’re a novice bread-maker, I’d really encourage you to try this bread. I mean, really, what’s the worst that can happen? It’s only a little flour and some yeast, right?
This particular bread is dense and very filling, making it the perfect choice for breakfast or lunch.
adapted from King Arthur Flour
1 1/2 cups (12 ounces) cool water
1 teaspoon instant yeast
1 1/2 cups (6 1/4 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup (2 ounces) whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons salt
2 1/4 cups (9 1/2 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup (2 3/4 ounces) flax seeds, ground
To make the sponge: Mix the sponge ingredients together, and let rest at room temperature, covered, overnight.
To make the dough: Stir down the sponge, and add the salt and flour. Mix and knead the dough until it’s smooth and elastic. Knead in the ground flax seeds. Place the dough in a greased bowl, turning to coat its surface with oil. Cover and let rise in a warm spot for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, until doubled in size.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly greased surface, and form it into a ball. Place on a lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheet. Cover and let rise for about 1 hour. Towards the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 450°F.
Gently but firmly slash the dough across the top, then spritz it with water. Bake the bread for 30 to 35 minutes, until it’s deep golden brown. Remove it from the oven and place it on a rack to cool. Cool completely before slicing. Yield: 1 loaf.