I'd never made Adam's Country Loaf before, so here I go!! As I noted, I started the sponge yesterday, giving it overnight to rise. The sponge consisted of:
1/2 tsp yeast
1 cup water
1 cup bread flour (5 oz)
1 cup whole-wheat flour (5 1/2 oz)
This should be a stiff, wet dough. Allow it to sit, covered with plastic wrap, at least 5 hours, but overnight is better.
Fold into it:
3 1/2 cups bread flour ( 17 1/2 oz)
1/2 cup rye flour (1 3/4 oz)
1 1/3 cups water, a bit more if needed
2 T honey
2 tsp salt (at the end)
(NOTE: Adam weighs his flour. I refuse to be such a slave to my bread, but it does produce more accurate recipes. So, do as you like.)
After you've folded these into the sponge, put it on your mixer with a dough hook, and mix on low for about 15 minutes, until the dough is smooth. If it seems too dry, add a tablespoon of water until it is smooth again. Then place in a lightly oiled, large bowl and allow to rise 2 hours, or until doubled.
Prepare a large colander or a stiff round basket, lined with a heavily floured muslin cloth. (Adam keeps a stiffly floured dish cloth for this purpose, stored in a ziploc.)
Turn the dough onto a floured surface and work the edges inward gently until you have a smooth ball underneath. You don't need to knead it to death.Turn the dough into the colander, cover loosely with foil (Why foil? I don't know.) Rise for 45 minutes. The round part of the dough (the underside) will actually end up being the top of your loaf, and it rises beautifully in this form.
Put some parchment paper on a large pizza peel. (We have one of these, but if you don't, just find some large flat thing that doesn't have a lip.) Place this over the colander, and flip the dough onto the paper. Slide the raw loaf onto a baking stone that's been heated fully in a 450 degree oven. Before baking, cut a good slit/cross into the dough.
Bake until the bread's internal temp is 210 degrees, about 30-40 minutes. In the first few minutes, try to get some steam in the oven to help it form a great crust. Now you can do this by putting a pan of water below the loaf on the next shelf. But it's supposed to bake on the bottom shelf. So, what we do is throw a handful of ice cubes into the bottom of the oven, and this works nicely. The loaf should come out nice and dark.
This is honestly the size of 2 whole loaves of bread. Cut it once across the middle, then, to cut the rest, set a side with its inside flat (not the crust) against the board. This way, you won't crush the loaf as you cut. The stiff sides of the loaf will support it as you cut.