The rye flour and water mixture will become a little bubbly and give off a slightly fermented smell after 24 hours.
Knead the dough briefly before dividing.
Cut into three equal parts.
Shape the dough into cylinders.
After the dough has risen, cut one long slash along the top of the loaf, about 1/2-inch deep.
Simple Sourdough Farmer’s Bread
Makes three 10-inch loaves
I bake this bread in a rather hot oven to give the loaves a nice thick crust. The sourdough starter must be prepared at least a day ahead.
7 cups rye flour
4 cups lukewarm water
2 packages active dry yeast
3-1/4 cups whole wheat flour
4-1/2 tablespoons salt
3 teaspoons cumin
To prepare the sourdough starter: Place 1-1/2 cups of the rye flour and 2/3 cup of the lukewarm water in a large bowl and mix well. Cover with a damp towel and let sit at room temperature for at least 24 hours. The mixture will become a little bubbly and give off a slightly fermented smell. (If the room is cool, this may take a little longer.)
Dissolve the yeast in 1/2 cup of the lukewarm water.
Place the remaining water, the sourdough starter, the remaining rye flour and the whole wheat flour, the salt, and knead the dough in the mixer for another 20 minutes. The dough should come together neatly in a ball.
Cover the mixing bowl with a damp towel and let the dough rise at room temperature for about 45 minutes, or until it doubles in volume.
Knead the dough briefly by hand to remove any large air pockets.
Butter and flour three 9 x 5-inch loaf pans. Divide the dough in three parts, shape each into a 9-inch cylinder, and place them in the prepared pans. Let the loaves rise for 1 hour or so, or until they at least double in volume. With a sharp knife, cut one long slash, about 1/2-inch deep, on the tops of the loaves. (This allows the dough to expand as it bakes.)
Preheat the oven to 375° F.
Bake the loaves for about 25 minutes, or until they are golden brown. Reduce the heat to 325° F and continue baking for about 20 minutes. Remove the loaves from the pans and let cool.