You will need to plan ahead to make this Peasant Bread but it is so well worth the time and effort - and very healthy!
3 cups water
1/2 cup sourdough starter
1/2 pound whole wheat flour
2 tablespoons and 1 teaspoon active dry yeast
1-1/2 pounds unbleached all purpose flour
1/4 pound barley flour
1/4 pound rye flour
4 teaspoons salt
Prepare the "sponge" the night before baking. Mix 3 cups water, 1/2 cup sourdough starter, and 1/2 pound whole wheat flour thoroughly with a whisk and leave it, covered, at room temperature overnight.
The next day, add 2 tablespoons and 1 teaspoon yeast to the sponge and stir. Let the yeast dissolve. Mix 1-1/2 pounds unbleached all-purpose flour with the 1/4 pound barley flour, 1/4 pound rye flour, and 4 teaspoons salt. When the yeast has dissolved, whisk the flour in, a cup at a time, until the dough is smooth and too thick to whisk. Incorporate the rest of the flour, a cup at a time, with a wooden paddle. When the dough forms a shaggy mass, turn it onto a floured surface and knead for 5 to 10 minutes, until it is smooth and elastic. Leave it in a container, covered, until it doubles in bulk, between 1 and 1-1/2 hours.
Divide the dough into four equal parts and work the air from each portion, one at a time. Form each portion into a ball and place on baking sheets lined with bakers' parchment. Cover the loaves lightly and let them rise until double in bulk. Slash the tops, spray lightly with water, and bake in a preheated 400 degree oven for 40 to 45 minutes. The loaves are done when they are evenly browned and make a hard hollow sound when rapped.
Recipe makes 2 9-inch loaves.
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