A fool-proof recipe for a perfect rustic dough, where time and your stand mixer do most of the work. This recipe involves the making of a sponge, which is a mini-dough that acts as a pre-ferment starter, allowing your yeast to work on a smaller batch of flour, which contributes to better flavour and body in the final loaf.

• Ingredients

For the sponge

- 1 cup room temperature water
- 1/2 tsp instant yeast
- 5.5 oz bread flour
- 5 oz whole wheat flour

For the main loaf

- 19.25 oz bread flour
- 2.75 oz rye flour
- 1 1/3 cup room temperature water
- 2 tbsp honey (or brown sugar)
- 2 tsp salt

• Method

In the bowl of a stand mixer, make the sponge - combine water and yeast until dissolved. Add first two flours and roughly mix, until a tight dough forms. Cover and let rest ferment at room temperature for at least 6 hours, preferably overnight.

Add remaining flour, water, and honey to the sponge, and mix until combined. Attach dough hook to stand mixer, and knead on low speed for 15 minutes, until dough is loose and sticky. Add salt during last 3 minutes of mixing. Remove from bowl, place in a large oiled tub, cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 2 hours, or until dough has tripled in size.

Preheat oven to 450F, with a pizza stone on the middle rack, and a deep metal on the rack below. Turn out dough on to a well-floured work surface. Fold four corners into the center of the dough, and place in a cheese-cloth lined colander smooth side down, and let rise for 45 minutes, or until almost doubled in size. Invert onto a pizza paddle (or tray) lined with parchment paper. Bring two cups of water to a boil. Just before placing in the oven, slash the dough and spray the surface with water from a spray bottle. Slide onto the pizza stone, and pour boiling water into the preheated pan below, closing the oven door immediately. Bake for 35-45 minutes. Knock the base of your loaf to test for doneness, if it sounds hollow you're good to go. Let rest a minimum of 2 hours before slicing. Open a beer, and marvel at your creation.


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