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Brother Placid's Saint Vincent "Bearcat" Bread

"It's a secret recipe," Brother Placid said, "but I'll give it to you."

Sponge:
6 cups Saint Vincent Flour
4 cups white bread flour (see note)
1 1/2 pints water, warm, not hot
1/2 ounce yeast (1 packet fast-rise yeast)

In a large bowl, mix the water and the yeast. Make sure the water is warm, not hot. Let sit for 5 minutes, then add the flour. The mix should be very soupy. Cover and let sit for 3 to 4 hours, until it begins to fall.

Note: For the white flour, use any unbleached, unbromated flour from the supermarket.

Final mix:
2 tablespoons salt
1 pint water (approximately)
Sponge
10 cups Saint Vincent Flour

Mix the salt into 1 pint of cool water. Add the water and the flour to the sponge, and mix thoroughly. Mix in the flour a little at a time. The final dough should have a texture that's not sticky or stiff. Add just a little more flour or water to give your dough a good rubbery, elastic feel.

Cover with cloth, and let rise to double size, about an hour or more.

Shape into 4 equal loaves and place in lightly greased pans. Cover and let rise again until nearly double size, about an hour.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. When dough is nearly double size, place in oven and bake for 1 hour. Throw a few ice cubes into the oven to create some moisture at the beginning of your bake for a better crust. Rotate the bread in the oven at least once for more evenly baked loaves.

After 1 hour, remove from oven and remove from pans immediately.

Let bread cool before cutting.

Makes 4 1-pound loaves

Sunday, November 26, 2000



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