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Horiatiko Psomi: Crusty Country Bread

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“In villages around Greece, this classic bread is still baked in outdoor wood-burning ovens. This bread is more dense than other types of bread (the loaf at right measures about 13 inches across and weighs a little more than 2 pounds) and can be made with a variety of flours or a combination of more than one. If you have your own sourdough starter, use 1/2 pound (slightly less than one cup for most starters) in place of the yeast in the recipe. I got this recipe on-line for the ZWT Greece from About.com.”
READY IN:
3hrs 50mins
YIELD:
3 loaves
UNITS:
Metric

Ingredients Nutrition

Directions

  1. In a small bowl, dissolve the yeast in lukewarm water. Slowly add the 1/2 cup of flour and mix until all lumps of flour have dissolved, to form a thick liquid. Allow to rise about 15-20 minutes.
  2. Sift the remaining flour with the salt, put in a large mixing bowl, and make a well in the center. Add oil, honey, milk, yeast mixture (or sourdough starter), and 2 cups of the water in the well. Pulling in the flour slowly, mix with hands until it's a cohesive mass. (If more water is needed, add in small amounts from the remaining 1/2 cup.) Turn out onto a floured surface and continue kneading until the dough is nice and smooth and no longer sticks to the hands.
  3. Place the dough in a lightly oiled mixing bowl and roll until all sides of the dough are lightly oiled. Cover the bowl with 3 dishtowels: one dry, one dampened with warm water (wet towel and wring out), and the other dry. Place in a warm place and allow to rise until doubled, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
  4. Punch down and knead for 5-6 minutes on a floured surface. Divide the dough into the number of loaves you want to make (this works well in 3-4 loaves), and form into round or oblong or baguette shaped loaves. Place several inches apart on ungreased cookie sheets and cover with 3 clean dishtowels (the middle one damp). In a warm place, allow the loaves to rise for 1 hour.
  5. Preheat oven to 450F (220C).
  6. For a thicker crust, score the tops of the loaves in 3 or 4 places (see photo). Otherwise, bake as is on the rack just below the middle of the oven for 30-35 minutes until browned. When tapped on the bottom, bread will sound hollow.
  7. When the loaves are done, remove from oven and cool on racks.

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