This bread recipe uses the basic ingredients needed to make what I like to call a Country Loaf. Baking on a stone is my preference; however, this recipe is written using a flat cookie sheet and is placed in a cold oven for the second rise. The loaves are large, sometimes unevenly shaped, make excellent sandwiches and when day old, great to use for French toast or a holiday stuffing. —lapadia
In a work bowl fitted with a dough hook add the dry ingredients. Turn the mixer on low and slowly add the water. When the dough starts to come together yet looks rough, turn off the machine and let sit for 3 minutes.
Loosely gather the dough together and knead with the dough hook until a ball is formed and is pulling from sides of bowl.
Lightly flour a work surface and knead dough into a smooth and elastic ball; adding more flour if needed.
Place the dough back in the work bowl, cover and let rise 1 hour, or until doubled.
After the dough has doubled in size, punch down, knead, cover and let sit for 15 minutes.
SECOND RISE & BAKING
Prepare a flat cookie sheet with butter cooking spray.
Lightly flour a surface and knead the dough. Form into a 12 inch loaf and roll it on the cookie sheet to coat all sides. Position the dough seam side down.
With a sharp knife cut 4 to 5 diagonal slits, about 1/8 inch.
Loosely cover and place in a cold oven to let rise again, until doubled.
Uncover the loaf and turn the oven on to 375 degrees. Bake for 20 minutes.
Turn the oven down to 350 degrees and bake for 30 minutes.
Loaf should be golden, a little browned on the bottom and sound hollow when tapped.
Let the loaf cool on a rack for at least 20 minutes before slicing.