1 cup starter
1 pkg dry yeast
3/4 cup flour
3 cup flour
3/4 cup water
2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon soda
1 1/2 cup warm water
2 cup flour
2 teaspoon sugar
About 9:00 in the evening measure out 1 cup starter from the refrigerator storage jar into mixing bowl (do not use metal or plastic). Add 3/4 cup water and 3/4 cup flour and beat thoroughly. Cover bowl tightly with clinging transparent wrap and set in warm place (80 to 85) overnight.
In the morning about 7:00 beat starter thoroughly. Measure out 1 cup and return remaining starter to storage jar. In another bowl pour 1-1/2 cups of just warm water, stir in 2 tsp. sugar and sprinkle 1 pkg. yeast on top. Let stand until yeast is dissolved. Add the 1 cup of reserved starter and 3 cups flour. Beat thoroughly, cover tightly and let stand in warm place until very light and foamy. This will take from 1 to 1-1/2 hours.
Sift 2 tsp. salt and 1/2 tsp. soda with 1 cup flour and spread the remaining 1 cup on the pastry board. Stir the sifted flour mix into the sponge. Turn out on board and knead for several minutes using a little more flour if necessary to make a very stiff dough. Knead until completely smooth and not sticky so that it can be worked on an unfloured portion of the board without sticking. Divide in halves and shape into either round or long narrow loaves. Place on flat baking sheet, preferably non stick, or lightly grease it or sprinkle corn meal over the surface. Slip into large plastic bag, supported so that it will not touch dough (drinking glasses placed at each end of sheet are fine). Set in warm place for 1 to 1-1/2 hours to rise.
If the dough becomes too light the loaves will spread in baking but this only makes a more delicious crust. When ready for the oven brush top of loaves with cold water. Make diagonal slashes across top of long loaves and five or six radiating from center of round ones with a sharp single-edge razor blade or scissors. Bake in oven preheated to 400 degrees with pan of hot water on the floor from 50 to 60 minutes and the crust is as dark as desired. About 10 minutes before the end of the baking period, brush tops with water again. Remove from pans and stand on edge to cool, propping them against a heavy glass jar or similar object.
For the most attractive slices, especially if the loaves have spread a little to much in baking, cut with a very sharp knife diagonally across the long loaf and at the same time have the blade slanted from top to bottom away from the end. This makes the slices about twice as wide as when cut straight up and down. Cut slices from the round loaves on the slant also. When ready to seve, to preserve the utterly delicious taste and crisp, hard crust, re-heat quickly with wrapping open at one end so that the bread will not become steamy, or spread slices with butter and place under broiler at high heat for a very short period until the edges are beginning to brown nicely. This recipe makes 2 long or 2 large round loaves.
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