Yields: 2 loafs
Prepare leaven a night before by mixing 1 tbs of mature starter with 200 g oof water and 200 g of all-purpose flour. Leave at room temperature loosely covered.
Test the leaven for readiness by dropping a spoonful in a glass of luke-warm water. If the leaven is floating, it’s ready to be used. If it drops, you need to give the leaven some more fermentation time.
Pour 750 g of water into a large mixing bowl. Add the leaven, and mix it so it almost dissolves.
Add the flours and mix well till incorporated. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest for 20-45 minutes.
In the meantime toast and process the fennel and sesame seeds in a spice grinder.
After the initial rest, add salt, remaining 50 g of water, and ground seeds to the dough. Mix well.
Follow the instructions of the basic country dough recipe, starting with “Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for about 3-4 hrs.” Instead of sesame seeds, use the multi-seed mixture used in this recipe.
Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for about 3-4 hrs. Turn the dough carefully 3 times during the first two hours with a wet hand going from bottom to top.
After the rising is done, dump the dough in a lightly floured surface and, working with a dough scraper, divide it in half, and, fold it into two balls. Cover with plastic and a towel and let rest for another 30 min.
After 30 min the dough will flatten somewhat. Turn it around carefully and, using your hands fold each part into a loaf like an envelope. Starting with the end closest to you, grab it with both hands, stretch it gently towards yourself, and fold to the top, pressing the end into the top portion of the dough. Stretch the right side carefully and fold it towards the left end, pressing the edge into the dough. Repeat with the right side. Fold the same way from top to bottom.
Turn the loaf around, helping yourself with the scraper. And carefully shape it with your hands into a round loaf by pushing the edges underneath the loaf and spinning it on the table.
Slightly moist your hands with water and pat the loaf. Sprinkle with sesame seeds.
Place a towel into a proofing basket or a deep bowl. Slightly sprinkle it with rice flour.
Using the scraper, lift the loaf and put it on the sprinkled towel, seeded side down, seam up.
Cover with the edges of the towel, put the basket into a bag and refrigerate for 8-20 hrs.
Next day, place an empty dutch oven into an oven and preheat it to 500⁰ F /260⁰.
After the oven is hot, quickly remove the Dutch oven, and carefully dump the loaf into it, so that the seam falls on the bottom, and the seeded side is on the top. Score the top of the loaf with a bread knife. Immediately cover with the lid, and place in the oven.
Lower the oven temperature to 475 F and bake for 20 min.
After 20 min remove the lid, and lower oven temperature to 450 F.
Bake for 10 more min. After 10 min, quickly remove the loaf from the Dutch Oven and place it on the pizza stone. Let bake another 15 min.
Let cool on a wire rack.
When baking two loafs, after the first loaf is finished, reheat the Dutch oven for another 10 minutes at 500⁰ F /260⁰ C before placing the second loaf into it.