12 servings (serving size: 1 slice)

This bread is a great choice for corned beef, roast beef, or pastrami sandwiches slathered with grainy mustard and topped with Swiss cheese. The sponge can be made ahead and refrigerated for up to 24 hours, but bring it back to room temperature before making the bread. For a unique presentation, you can monogram the bread: Cut a 1/2-inch-wide initial into parchment paper, then place the stencil on the loaf and sift several tablespoons of flour over the initial. Remove the stencil and bake the loaf as directed.

How to Make It

Step 1

To prepare sponge, dissolve yeast in warm water in a large bowl; let stand 5 minutes. Lightly spoon 1/2 cup rye flour and 1/4 cup bread flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Add 1/2 cup rye flour and 1/4 cup bread flour to yeast mixture, stirring with a whisk. Cover and let stand in a warm place (85°), free from drafts, 2 hours.

Step 2

To prepare bread, lightly spoon 2 cups bread flour and 1/2 cup rye flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Add 2 cups bread flour, 1/2 cup rye flour, 1/2 cup water, caraway seeds, and salt to sponge; beat with a mixer at medium speed until smooth.

Step 3

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead until smooth and elastic (about 10 minutes); add 2 tablespoons bread flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, to prevent dough from sticking to hands.

Step 4

Shape dough into a round loaf; place loaf on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Cover and let rise 1 1/2 hours or until dough has doubled in size. (Press two fingers into dough. If indentation remains, the dough has risen enough.)

Step 5

Preheat oven to 425°.

Step 6

Uncover and pierce loaf 1 inch deep in several places with a wooden pick. (Stencil an initial on bread, if monogramming.) Bake at 425° for 30 minutes or until loaf is browned on bottom and sounds hollow when tapped. Let stand 20 minutes before slicing.

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