This bread is also known as French country loaf and is made with a honey-infused starter.
The bread is best enjoyed the day it has baked.
Prepare the levain (starter) at 12 to 24 hours ahead of making the dough. In a mixing bowl, stir the water, flour, yeast and honey together using a wooden spoon until blended (the mixture will be soft and stretchy). Cover (leave lots of space for the bubbles to grow) and leave on the counter to rise for a day.
For the “build”, place the bread flour, rye flour, water and 2 Tbsp (30 mL) of the Levain into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the hook attachment and mix on low speed for 2-3 minutes, until blended. Cover the bowl with a tea towel and let this sit for 30 minutes (you will not see any change) – this step is called the autolyse technique, yielding a loaf with good volume, better flavor and “pull”, and a nicer crumbs structure because the flour has time to hydrate and this promotes gluten development without kneading.
For the final dough, add the bread flour, salt and Levain to the “build” and mix this on a slightly higher speed for just 2 minutes (the autolyse removes the need for a longer mixing period.) The dough will still seem tacky to the touch. If making by hand, combine the ingredients in a large mixing bowl until you can no longer stir in and then turn out onto a work surface to knead vigorously for 2-3 minutes, without adding additional flour. Place the dough into a clean bowl, cover with plastic and let sit on the counter for 2 ½ hours, knocking down the dough to deflate it halfway through rising.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and divide into 2 pieces. Shape each piece into a “boule” a round bowl, and spin it between your hands to create a taut surface on top, with any seams tucked underneath – no need to be ginger here, vigorously handling of the dough to knock out the air is desired. If you have shaping baskets, dust them with flour and place the bread in, with seams facing up, or place each boule onto a baking tray. Cover the boules with a tea towel and let proof (rise) for 2 hours.
Preheat the oven to 400 ºF (200 ºC). Have a spray bottle with cool water on hand. Dust the tops of the loaves with flour (if you’ve proofed the dough in the baskets, gently tip them onto a parchment-lined baking tray) and use a serrated knife to cut incisions into the top of each boule at an angle and about ½-inch (12 mm) deep. Place the loaves into the oven and quickly spray water into the oven (6-8 sprays) and shut the oven door quickly. Bake the bread for 30-40 minutes – to test the doneness, remove a loaf with a tea towel and knock the bottom – if it sounds hollow, then the bread is done. Cool the bread on a cooling rack before slicing.