Home baked bread, eaten while still warm, slathered with butter, accompanying a hearty soup on a cold winter evening…what’s not to like? Country Bread is dense and sturdy, full of flavor and texture from whole wheat, rye, and white flour. It takes a couple of days from start to finish (unless you get started before dawn or want to eat it at midnight, by my calculation.) The procedure includes making a sponge that requires a six to eight hour rest at room temperature, or overnight in the refrigerator. So it requires some planning, although not so much active time.
I’ve always admired artisan bread that has a pattern of the weave from the basket or banetton in which it is formed. Not owning a banetton, I lined an oval basket with a kitchen towel rubbed with flour, amazed by the quantity of flour that was absorbed. My loaf came out of the oven with just a slight ghost of the basket weave pattern…but that was enough.
The half cup of rye flour in the sponge really called to me to add more rye flour to the dough, so I substituted a cup of rye flour for a cup of the white flour, possibly adding to the density of this loaf. Oh, and if you try this recipe, beware of adding the second yeast/water mixture to the dough while the mixer is running. I had yeasty water splattered all over the mixer, counter, and floor.
This bread was fun to bake, but my go-to recipe for a rustic bread will still be the Pane Integrale in Jim Lahey’s book My Bread (similar to this recipe on the Sullivan Street Bakery website.) The recipe for the Country Bread is from Baking With Julia, on pages 136-137. Bakers participating in the Tuesdays With Dorie bake and blog project have posted links to their blog posts at Tuesdays With Dorie.