This recipe is easy to follow but it is time consuming in that it takes a long time to rise. The actual time spent preparing the bread is probably less than 30 minutes but the total time needed for this bread to rise and bake is closer to 10-12 hours. The bread is worth the wait though!
The first step is to make the preferment. If you are asking what a preferment is, don't worry. I only recently learned about this and it was because I found the website mentioned above. My mother made homemade bread very often when I was younger (and still does), but she never used a preferment. Instead, her usual recipe was to combine everything, then rise once or twice, and then bake. This is the method I learned and always used because it makes great bread. But, if you are looking for bread that has a specific taste, like it was made by your great great great grandmother, then you need to use a preferment. This typically involves mixing some of the flour, a bit of water, maybe some salt or sugar, and a tiny bit of yeast. Then you let it sit for about 8-16 hours. This lets the yeast activate and develop slowly and will give the bread a rustic taste.
Here are the ingredients for the preferment:
- 3 1/2 cups bread flour
- 1 1/4 cups warm water
- 1/2 tablespoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon instant yeast
Mix the water and yeast together and then add the flour and salt. You will want this to be just a little sticky so add some water if it is needed. Place plastic wrap over the bowl and let it sit on your counter overnight or for at least 8 hours. Some of you may be saying that there is no way 1/8 teaspoon of yeast will be sufficient, but it is. Trust me :)
Below is a picture of the preferment when it was first made and after rising for 14 hours.
- 1/2 teaspoon instant yeast
- 1 1/2 cups warm water
- 2 1/2 cups bread flour
- 1 1/2 cups whole wheat or rye flour or a mixture of them
- 1/2 tablespoon salt
After you have mixed this together, grab your preferment and mix and knead both doughs together for about 10 minutes. This is kind of tough to do. I usually divide the preferment and dough into a few sections and work two sections at a time together.
I bake the bread with steam and this is done by adding some water to a pan I have sitting in the oven while it is preheating. This gives an extra crunch to the crust. Yum! With my oven, I bake this bread for about 35 minutes and as you can see from the pictures, the bread more than doubles in size.