TO MAKE SPONGE:
1. In a small bowl, sprinkle yeast over warm water. Let stand for 5 minutes.
2. In a large mixing bowl, combine flour and cold water until partially mixed.
Scrape yeast mixture into flour mixture. Stir 100 times in one direction.
3. Cover with plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature (approx. 70
degrees) for about 12 hours or overnight. (The sponge is ready when
small bubbles cover the surface and it appears thinner that at the start).
This is a good recipe to start before you go to bed. Be sure to have time
to finish the next day.
TO MAKE DOUGH AND FORM LOAVES:
1. Place 3½ cups flour in large bowl: make a well in the center. Scrape
sponge into well; set bowl aside. Stir, gradually incorporating flour
2. Rinse sponge bowl with 1 cup water, scraping down sides with a
rubber spatula. Gradually add the liquid to the flour-sponge mixture,
stirring well between additions.
3. Turn dough out onto a surface dusted with some of the remaining flour.
Knead, gradually incorporating additional flour, until dough is smooth
and elastic, about 5 minutes. (You may not need all the remaining
flour). Gather into a mound and cover with plastic wrap or a damp towel.
Let rest for minutes.
4. Flatten dough and sprinkle with salt. Knead until salt is fully incorporated
and dough feels soft and elastic, 50 to 10 minutes. Shape
into a ball.
5. Place dough in lightly oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise
until doubled in bulk, about one hour.
6. Punch down dough and reshape into a ball. Cover again and let rise,
at room temperature until more than doubled in bulk, 1-1½ hours.
7. Lightly dust the underside of a large baking with flour. Divide dough
in half and form into 2 round loaves. Place loaves 4 inches apart on
on the upside-down baking sheet; lightly cover with plastic wrap. Let
rise in the refrigerator for 8 hours or overnight. (I have raised it on the
counter for 30-45 minutes but if you are pinched for time, let it rise in
the refrigerator and bake the next day).
TO BAKE LOAVES:
1. Preheat oven to 500 degrees or its highest setting. Have ready a clean
spray bottle filled with water.
2. Just before baking, with a sharp knife or bakers' razor (lame), slash a
cross hatch design into the top of each loaf. Spray lightly with water.
3. Bake loaves for 15 minutes, lightly spaying water every 4 to 5 minutes.
(Be careful to avoid spraying oven light). Reduce oven temperature to
425 degrees; bake, without spraying for 15 to 20 minutes more, or until
loaves are golden and sound hollow when tapped on top with your
4. Transfer loaves to wire rack and cool completely. The bread will keep at
room temperature in a paper bag or kitchen towel - not plastic bag - for
up to 3 days, or frozen, well wrapped, for up to 6 weeks.
85 calories per slice; 2 grams protein; 0 grams fat
18 grams carbohydrates; 190 sodium; 0 mg cholesterol; 1 gram fiber