A beautiful rustic loaf with a crispy, chewy crust or crispy breadsticks.



Hands-on Time: 20-30 minutes
Baking Time: 35 for loaves 15-20 for breadsticks
Total Time: 2 1/2 -3 hours including rising time
Yield: 2 medium or 1 large loaf or 48 breadsticks

    1. In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water.
    2. Stir in honey or sugar and whole wheat flour.
    3. Beat with an electric mixer for 3 minutes vigorously by hand.
    4. Cover and let the mixture (sponge) rise in a warm place for 30 minutes.
    5. Fold in oil, salt, and all-purpose flour cup by cup.
    6. Turn out on a floured surface and knead 8-10 minutes (or use dough hook attachment of mixer) until smooth and elastic.
    7. Cover hands with softened butter and pat dough into a greased ball.
    8. Put in a large bowl, cover, and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 1/2 hours.
    9. Deflate (punch down) dough. Cover and let rest 10 minutes.
    10. Shape into 2 medium-size or 1 very large loaf.  Coat a baking sheet with butter and sprinkle lightly with cornmeal. Place loaves on the baking sheet.
    11. Let rise uncovered for 30-45 minutes.
    12. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Place a shallow pan of boiling water in the bottom of the oven.
    13. Brush loaves gently with melted butter then with cold water. Make 4-5 diagonal slashes in tops.
    14. Bake bread 7 minutes. then lower heat to 350 degrees and continue baking 35-40 minutes.
    15. Remove from pan and cool on a rack.

After the first rise, deflate the dough, divide into 4 pieces, and roll each piece on a floured surface into a 12 X 17-inch rectangle. Cut in 12 (7 x 1 inch) strips. With fingertips, roll each strip in an 8-10 inch rope. Place about 2 inches apart on greased baking sheets. Cover and let rise for 30 minutes. Brush with a mixture of 1 egg white beaten with 1 tablespoon water. Sprinkle with sesame or poppy seeds or coarse sea salt if desired. Preheat oven to 375 degrees and bake 15-20 minutes until golden and crisp.