1/2 tsp active dry yeast (not rapid rise)
3/4 c water (room temperature)
3/4 c spent grain from brewing, still damp and at room temperature (available at Below Grade Brewing’s booth at the market, FREE!)
1 1/2 c bread flour
4 cups bread flour
1 cup water (room temperature)
2 tbsp honey
2 tsp salt
A bit of olive oil and sea salt.
For the Sponge:
Mix the yeast into the water in a medium bowl until it’s dissolved. Mix into the flour and spent grain with a spatula and create stiff, wet dough. Cover and let the sponge sit at room temperature for at least five hours, if not overnight. I let mine sit for 24 hours.
For the Dough:
1. Mix the water, honey, flour, and the sponge in the bowl of a mixer, using a spatula. Mix the dough with your dough hook attachment on a slow speed for about 12 minutes, then add the salt. Continue mixing with the dough hook for another 3 minutes. Alternatively, mix in a large bowl with a wood spoon (I don’t have one of those fancy mixers), until it is too hard to mix, then I turn it out on a lightly floured board and finish the mixing by hand, then knead for 10-12 minutes.
During the course of this process, the dough should be sticking to the bottom of the bowl, but easily clearing the sides. Check about halfway through by pushing the dough off the hook and seeing how it sticks to the bowl. If it’s really gluey and damp, add more flour in 1/8th cup increments, mixing between each addition. You want a dough that’s smooth and tacky but not actually glue-like.
2. Transfer your dough to a big lightly oiled bowl, and cover it with plastic wrap that’s been greased. Let it rise about two to four hours, until it has roughly tripled in size.
3. Working with floured hands, press it out into a rectangle, and use a bench knife to divide it into three equally sized pieces. Roll each piece of dough into a tight 9-inch cylinder and pinch the seam closed. Place the loaves, seam side down, on parchment on a baking sheet; space evenly, allowing for expansion during baking . Cover loosely with a cloth or greased piece of aluminum foil and let the dough rise until it almost doubles in size, about 45 minutes.
4. Meanwhile, put an oven safe deep metal pan or cast-iron skillet on the lowest shelf of the oven. Heat your oven up to 450 degrees F. Heat up two cups of water (not quite to boiling) and keep it on hand for your baking cycle.
5. Cut two or three slashes on top of each loaf using a sharp knife. Cut almost parallel to the top of loaf, not very deep, and without sawing or tearing. lightly brush with olive oil and sprinkle with coarse sea salt. Put your loaves in the oven. Pour two cups of hot water into your pre-heated pan or skillet, to create steam.
6. Bake for 15 minutes, then, if the loaves are browning unevenly, rotate each loaf 180 degrees. Bake for another 5-10 minutes (or until tops of loaves turn dark brown) and test the temperature with an instant read thermometer — 205-210 degrees F is perfect.
Recipe courtesy of Dean Wise, Below Grade Brewing