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This recipe is from the book, Artisan Bread in Five Minutes A Day. Pain de Campagne and Pane Rustica is bread baked in the style of the rustic loaves found throughout the French and Italian countrysides. It is recommended to use a baking stone in the oven.
- Mix the yeast and salt with the water in a 5 quart bowl or a lidded (not airtight) food storage container.
- Mix in the remaining dry ingredients without kneading, usings a spoon, a Danish dough whisk, a 14 cup capacity food processor with dough attachment or a heavy-duty stand mixer with dough hook. If not using a mixer, you may need to use wet hands to incorporate the last bit of the flour.
- Cover (not airtight) and allow to rest at room temperature until the dough rises and collapses (or flattens on top), approximately 2 hours.
- The dough can be used immediately after the initial rise, however it is easier to handle when cold. Refrigerate in a lidded (not airtight) container and use over the next 14 days. You can also divide the dough into 4 1-lb portions and freeze in an airtight container for up to three weeks. Thaw 24 hours before use.
- On baking day, dust the surface of the refrigerated dough with flour and cut off a grape fruit size piece (1 lb). Dust with more flour and quickly shape into a ball by stretching the surface of dough around to the bottom on all four sides, rotating the ball a quarter-turn as you go. Allow to rest and rise on cornmeal-dusted pizza peel for 40 minutes.
- Twenty minutes before baking time, preheat oven to 450 degrees F, with a baking stone placed on the middle rack. Place a cast iron skillet or empty metal broiler tray on the bottom rack.
- Sprinkle loaf liberally with flour and slash a cross, scallop design or tic-tac-toe design on the top using a serrated bread knife.
- Slide loaf directly onto the hot stone. Pour 1 cup of hot tap water into the skillet or broiler tray and quickly close the door. Bake for 35 minutes or until top of crust is dark brown and sounds hollow when thumped.
- Remove from oven and cool on wire rack. Allow to cool before slicing.