Whole Wheat Cottage Loaf

Simple and delicious.  Bread is not hard.  People have been making bread with just these three ingredients – flour, salt, yeast – for thousands of years, most of the time with a wood fire.  This takes only a few minutes to mix and another few to form the loaves; the rest of the time is waiting.

6 cups whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 package dry yeast
3 cups warm water

Put the flour in a large bowl.  Make a well in the center of the flour, our in a cup of the water, and add the yeast and salt.  Stir until yeast dissolves, and then gradually add the rest of the water. You should have a fairly stiff dough.  You can knead in the bowl or turn out onto a board if you like, but kneading is not strictly necessary.  Gather the dough into a ball and cover the bowl with a damp dish towel.  If your kitchen is much cooler than 70°, find a warmer place for the bread to rise.

Let rise until double – if you can pole a finger into the dough and it “sighs” and doesn’t spring back, it is ready.  Shape into two round loaves and put on a non-stick or greased baking sheet.  Cut a cross into the top of each loave, about 1/4 inch deep.  This will let it rise.  Cover with the dish cloth again and let rise 30 minutes or so.  Bake in a 375° for 30 minutes, or until light brown.  If in doubt, turn over and thump the bottom – a done loaf will sound hollow.  Slice or just break off pieces, butter or not, eat hot or cold.

If you want to have fun and get fancy, you can make flatter loaves, rub the top with a little olive oil, and press in fresh rosemary, dried herbs, seeds like caraway or poppy, sunflower or pumpkin seeds, anything that tickles your fancy, before the second rising.

Makes 2 loaves.

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