Contributed by: Chris WebAdmin. of RecipesNow.com
Pour 1 c of starter into a large ceramic mixing bowl. Feed and then refrigerate the remainder. Add to the starter in the mixing bowl, the warm water and about 3 c of flour. Beat vigorously with a spoon or wire whisk. Cover this sponge with plastic wrap and put it aside to work. This time period can be very flexible, but allow at least 2 hours and as many as 24. The longer it has, the more yeast there will be for the second rise and the more pronounced the sour flavor of the bread will be.
After sponge has bubbled and expanded, remove plastic wrap. Blend salt, sugar and baking soda into 2 c of flour. Mix this into sponge with large spoon. When dough begins to hold together, turn it out onto floured board and knead it for 3 or 4 minutes. Add flour as needed to make a fairly stiff dough.Give the dough a rest and clean the bowl. Continue kneading for another 3 or 4 minutes. Place the dough back in the bowl turning it to grease the top. Cover and let rise for 2 to 4 hours.If you want, you can skip the second rise in the bowl and proceed directly to the next step.
Shaping And Baking The Loaves
Knock down the dough and shape it into 2 long loaves. Place them on a cornmeal sprinkled cookie sheet, cover and let them rise for another 2 hours or so.Toward the end of the rising period, preheat your oven to 450 F and begin heating a kettle of water on your stove. Just before you put them in the oven, slash the tops of your loaves diagonally with a knife 1/4" deep every two inches and brush with cold water.Place a baking pan on the oven bottom and put in 3 or 4 cups of boiling water. Put the loaves on the rack over the steaming water, close the oven and bake for about 25 minutes.
Serving Size: Makes 6 servings
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