Country Bread Loaf
Pagnotta Casereccia
Warm 2 cups (450 cc) of water to approximately 100 F (38 C).
Dissolve the yeast in the warm water. Set it aside for about 5 to 10 minutes until small bubbles form. In a large bowl, place 1½ cups (210 gr) of the flour. Pour in the water-yeast mix.
Stir with a spatula until the dough is well combined and forming strands. Add the salt to the remaining flour. A little at a time, add the flour to the dough, mixing it with a spatula.

Transfer the mixture to a lightly floured work surface. First mix with a scraper, then as soon as the dough is workable, knead it with your hands. The dough must be kept moist and sticky at all times. Add small amounts of flour while kneading. Knead the dough for about 8–10 minutes, folding and pulling, until it still is a little sticky but elastic and smooth.

Spray a bowl lightly with olive oil. Place the dough in the bowl, cover it with a cloth, and set aside to rise for about 2 hours until it has doubled in size. Make sure the room temperature is at least 70 F (21 C).

When the dough has risen, push the surface down in the center with the palm of your hand to expel the air.

Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface. Knead the dough for about 5 minutes. Shape dough into a round form, tucking the sides under the ball and stretching the surface to make it smooth.

Line a large oven pan with parchment paper and sprinkle it with half of the wheat bran. Transfer the dough on top of the paper, keeping the seam down. Sprinkle the top of the dough with the rest of the wheat bran. Cover with a cloth, and set it aside to rise again for about 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 425 F (220 C). When the dough is well risen, remove the cover. Optionally, using a very sharp knife or a box cutter, slit across the top of the loaf several times. Transfer the loaf to the oven, sliding it very carefully without touching or pushing it. Bake for about 1 hour or until it is deep brown in color. When the bread is ready, the surface will crackle, and it will make a hollow sound when tapped. Cool it on a rack at room temperature.

makes 1 loaf  (2 lb or 900 gr)

1 cube or 0.6 oz (17 gr) fresh active yeast

5½  cups (700 gr) flour

2½ tablespoons salt

1 tablespoon wheat bran