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Country Bread {#CookforJulia #BakeYourOwnBread}

28 comments /
Let me begin with a weather update: currently 58° F with occasional light rain. I believe it hit a high of 64° today.

And let me follow that up by saying: I'm lovin' every minute of it!  As in Loverboy circa 1985, baby. Minus the sexual innuendo.

I can finally breathe again!  The heat and humidity are so oppressive to me, so the past three and a half months or so has been rough.  I thrive when there's a chill in the air.  Plus I'm a water baby (Scorpio), so I also love a rainy night.  As in Eddie Rabbit circa 1980.  Eeeehhhh...sorry.  I can't help it.  My seventies/eighties-child is showing again.  I tell ya, the cool breeze blowing through my windows that have been thrown wide open all day is making me giddy!
So this would have been THE perfect day to bake a loaf of bread.  The smell of yeast and grains snaking from the oven and through the kitchen and eventually out of those open windows.  But I made a loaf yesterday (which was also fairly cool), so instead of baking another one right away, I just toasted it up and enjoyed that today.  Alongside this beautiful day.

So this makes five of seven of my Julia Child books that I've cooked from.  It looks like I'm going to reach the goal that I set for myself (cooking one recipe from each of them during the #CookforJulia event).  Double giddy!


Country Bread

by Heather Schmitt-González
Prep Time: 2½ hrs. + overnight (largely unattended)
Cook Time: 60-70 minutes
Keywords: bake bread

Ingredients (1 large round loaf)
    the sponge:
    • 1½ c. warm water (105°-115° F)
    • 2½ tsp. active dry yeast
    • 1 c. bread flour
    • ½ c. rye flour
    • ½ c. whole wheat flour
    the dough:
    • 1 tsp. active dry yeast
    • 1 c. warm water
    • all of the sponge
    • 3-3½ c. bread flour
    • 1 c. whole wheat flour
    • 1 Tbs. salt
    Instructions
    make the sponge (the evening before you want to bake the bread):
    Put ¼ cup of the warm water into a bowl and sprinkle with the yeast; stir to mix. Allow to rest for ~5 minutes, in which time it will turn creamy. Add remaining water. Stir the flours together and add them to the yeast mixture a little at a time, stirring with a wooden spoon until sponge has the consistency of pancake batter (loose, yet thick).

    Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator overnight. Plan on pulling this out of the fridge 1 hour before you're ready to continue with your recipe.
    making the bread (day of baking):
    Be sure to pull the sponge from the refrigerator and allow it to sit at room temperature for an hour before continuing on with the dough.

    Dissolve the yeast in ½ cup of the warm water. Scrape the sponge into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment and add the other ½ cup of warm water to that bowl. Cobine 3 cups of the bread flour with the whole wheat flour.

    Gradually add 2 cups of the flour mixture into the mixer bowl, while it runs on medium-low speed. Once it has mixed for ~3 minutes, add the yeast mixture until incorporated. Sprinkle the salt over the dough and allow it to mix in. Work the remaining flour mixture in until the dough starts to "clean" the sides of the bowl (if you need to, add a tad more bread flour until this happens). Increase the mixer speed to medium and allow to knead for ~10 minutes or until the dough begins to look smooth and satiny; it should feel slightly tacky (almost enough to be sticky, but not quite).

    Form dough into a loose ball and place in a lightly oiled bowl. Cover with plastic and allow dough to proof at room temperature until doubled in volume, 1½-2 hours.

    Prepare a banneton (measuring 8" across base) or a large basket or colander lined with a linen towel by rubbing with flour. Set aside until needed.

    Turn dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and pat it into a flat round with your fingers and palms. Fold the four "edges" in and press down with the heel of your hand, then flip the dough over and work it against the counter with your cupped hands to form a tight ball. Repeat this process (flattening, folding, tightening) four more times. Turn the loaf over and lay it into the prepared banneton, smooth side down.
    Cover with plastic wrap that has been lightly oiled on the surface facing the dough. Let it rise at room temperature until it has risen over the edge of the banneton. This could take anywhere from 30 minutes to 1½ hours.

    About 30 minutes before you're ready to bake the loaf, position an oven rack in the lower third of your oven and set a baking stone on it. Preheat oven to 425° F. Have a spray bottle filled with water ready.

    When the dough has risen fully, sprinkle a baker's peel or rimless baking sheet with cornmeal and carefully invert your risen dough onto it. Spray the oven walls with water and immediately close the door to trap the steam.
    Score your bread a few times, cutting ~½" deep. Open the oven and slide the dough onto the baking stone, turn down the heat to 400° F, and quickly spray the oven walls again. Close oven quickly. Bake for 60-70 minutes, or until the crust is a deep golden color. The loaf will sound hollow when tapped on the bottom and should register at least 200° F when an instant-read thermometer is inserted into the center.

    Remove loaf and allow to cool on a wire rack before cutting. Will keep at room temperature for ~3 days and wrapped tightly and frozen for a month (thaw, still wrapped, at room temperature).

    slightly adapted from Joe Ortiz in Baking with Julia
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    28 comments

    1. that is a gorgeous loaf of bread. I'm all for cooler temperatures too!

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    2. this looks wonderful lovely bread

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    3. Hi Heather, What a beautiful loaf you baked for Julia. She'll love it!
      I will send you some of the rain we're having over here, there's plenty.

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    4. What a beautiful loaf of bread. Wish I had a slice or two right now for breakfast.

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    5. Paula @ Vintage KitchenAugust 11, 2012 at 8:04 AM

      Great boule Heather! The windows open and perfect bread baking days... wonderful!

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    6. That's brilliant. I like the lines over the bread. And doing this overnight...all I need to do is make room in the fridge for this bread.
      Glad to hear you are getting cooler temps. We still have rain and heat. Perhaps we'll retire to Pennsylvania (I will go home for retirement:-)

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    7. Yes!! I was out of town for most of this week, but I too love the cooler weather. And I am going to be baking this weekend. I miss my bread, but I 'm just not going to bake when its pushing 100F with 90% humidity. Your bread looks amazing. I opted out of the Julia event because I just wasn't sure of my blogging / cooking schedule owing to travel.

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    8. caite@ a lovely shore breezeAugust 11, 2012 at 11:50 AM

      that bread looks so, so lovely!

      but yeast frightens me! :-)

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    9. Just gorgeous!! Julia Child would have been proud :-)

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    10. "Touch that dial, turn me on" ... sorry, got distracted by the Loverboy reference :) Gorgeous bread!

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    11. "start me like motor, make me run" ...ha ha ha ha ha - yeah, easy distraction ;P

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    12. thanks so much...and don't be scared - yeast is our friend ;)

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    13. I love so much this bread lool amazing Heather!
      In where part you liv Hesther I heard is.so much hot this year in states and Europe.
      Here we are in winter still.

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    14. So talented doing homemade bread. Have a good week.

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    15. I'm feeling it! Although vicariously, since it's over 100 degrees here. Your bread is gorgeous and the photos so sensuous. I love the ring marks from the banneton!

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    16. My gosh, this bread looks amazing! And complicated. I'm scared to try the recipe myself, but I am in awe of you. YUM.

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    17. Heather look absolutely amazing love make bread!

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    18. That is one beautiful loaf of bread!! I bet it tastes delicious, too!

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    19. Wow! Your bread looks amazing! Making bread from scratch is one thing that does intimidate me a little!

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    20. It dipped down to the mid sixties here last night and I actually got chilly watching for meteors. Your music comments cracked me up. The bread looks top notch, give me some fresh butter and I'd be in heaven.

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    21. Well, we're at 106, so I'm completely jealous of your weather. Love this particular Julie Cookbook (Baking with Julia) and will have to give the recipe a go after seeing it has your "seal of approval" - I'm a sucker for home baked bread. If the a/c can bear the oven on for baking it - you have the perfect foundation for any no cook meal. Brings sandwich to a realm no store bought love can touch.

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    22. Joanne @ Eats Well With OthersAugust 12, 2012 at 9:35 PM

      Yesterday was AWFUL here heat and humidity-wise but today was gorgeous! TOtally a bread baking kind of day. I wish I had seen this gorgeous loaf sooner!

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    23. This looks really good! Unfortunately the humidity doesn't seem to be going away here, so bread doesn't really happen... Maybe in the fall!

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    24. I could really use a loaf of this in my kitchen right now! Absolutely beautiful and I am sure tasty too.

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    25. this sounds like a good technique, I have not tried this method. Thanks, Your bread looks wonderful.

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    26. What a gorgeous traditional loaf. I can just imagine how delicious this tasted! (I'm glad you finally got some cooler weather; we've had rainy and cool all summer really...it's like the whole world is mixed up!)

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    27. I'm with you. That poisonous heat was horrible and it was so so wonderful when I had to put on long sleeves because of the cool breeze at last blowing the nightmare of hot humidity out fo the house.

      I love the markings that the bowl gives to the rising loaf! And what beautiful bread.

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