Dissolve the salt in the water. Put both the flours in a large bowl and mix them together thoroughly. Make a well in the centre and pour in the levain. Gradually add the water, mixing it in with one hand, making a sticky mixture. Keep
When the dough is smooth and silky, place it in an oiled bowl, roll it round in the oil and cover it with cling film. Leave in a warm place for 2–3 hours or in a cold place for 4–5 hours or overnight. If the latter, allow it to warm up again to room temperature and swell a bit more before proceeding – in either case it should rise to double its original size.
Heat the oven to 220°C – heat it up well ahead of time to achieve a good solid heat.
To shape the loaves, place the dough on a floured worktop and spread on a handful of chopped walnuts. Fold the dough over and spread again; keep doing this until all the walnuts are incorporated. Cut the dough in half and either make freehand loaves or loaves in tins.
To make freehand loaves, oval or round, draw the edges of the cut side of each piece of dough together and place on a baking sheet (that has been sprinkled with fine polenta) with this seam underneath, to give the top some tension. Cover with a cloth and a sheet of cling film and allow to rise in a nicely warmed place to almost double in size. Keep out of draughts. When the loaves have risen, slash the tops 3 times with a very sharp knife before placing in the preheated oven.
If you would rather make the bread in tins, oil two
A third alternative is to make miches. These are the round loaves, for example of pain de campagne, that are proved (upside down) in bannetons, round willow baskets lined with linen (available from Poilane shops). You will also need large cazuelas, terracotta paella pans, to bake them in.
Divide the dough in two as before. Sprinkle the insides of two bannetons liberally with maize flour. Form nice balls of dough by tucking the sides underneath and place them, rounded side down, in the baskets. Cover loosely with a cloth and leave to rise until doubled in size.
When they are proved, grease two cazuelas with oil and
Whatever the form of loaf,