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Whole Grain Boule

For the grain mix:
2 tablespoons coarse polenta
2 tablespoons oat groats
2 tablespoons red bulgur
2 tablespoons millet

For the poolish:
7 1/2 ounces (about 1 1/2 cups) unbleached all-purpose flour
 1/4 teaspoon instant yeast

For the dough:
 1/2 teaspoon instant yeast
9 ounces (about 2 cups) unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoons fine sea salt

For the glaze:
1 egg white, lightly beaten

1. Hydrate the grains: Combine them in a small bowl, and pour  1/2 cup boiling water over them. Stir once, cover and steep 4 hours at room temperature.
2. Make the poolish: Combine flour, yeast and one cup water in a second small bowl, and stir vigorously with a wooden spoon until shiny. Cover tightly with plastic wrap, and let rest at cool room temperature until well risen, about 4 hours.

3. To make the dough, scrape poolish into a large mixing bowl with a plastic bench scraper or a spatula. Add steeped grains. Sprinkle  1/2 teaspoon yeast on top. Add 3 tablespoons warm water, and stir with wooden spoon to combine. Add flour, and stir until stiff. Knead in bowl with hands. Turn dough onto a counter, and knead until smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes. Turn mixing bowl over dough and rest 20 minutes.

4. Pat dough into thick rectangle, and sprinkle sea salt over it. Fold dough up and knead until smooth and silky, about 20 minutes, adding warm water if dough becomes dry. Shape dough into round and place in a clean, ungreased bowl; cover with plastic wrap. Let rise at cool room temperature until dough has doubled in bulk, 3 to 4 hours.

5. Press fist into center of dough and deflate gently. Place on counter. Cup hands around dough, and drag its lower surface against counter toward you in short movements, stretching and tightening dough into a ball. Place on parchment paper, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate 20 to 30 minutes. Remove from refrigerator and round dough again until surface is taut and dough is a compact ball 4 to 5 inches wide and about 3 1/2 inches at highest point. Return dough to parchment paper and slip onto a plate, cover with wrap and refrigerate overnight.

6. To bake the bread, remove dough from refrigerator. Place oven rack on lowest position. Place a pizza stone on rack. Place a 10-inch-wide terra-cotta pot on stone. Heat oven to 500 degrees for 1 hour. Brush top of dough with egg white and, using a very sharp paring knife or an electric knife, slash 2 perpendicular stripes  1/4-inch deep and about 3 inches long on top of bread.

7. Working quickly, with long oven mitts, pull out oven rack halfway and place terra-cotta pot on open oven door. Lower dough and parchment onto pizza stone, and invert pot immediately over bread. Reduce oven heat to 450. Bake 20 minutes. Remove pot from bread, and bake uncovered about 5 minutes more. Bread should be nicely risen and deep golden brown. Remove bread from oven and cool on a wire rack 30 minutes.

Yield: 1 2-pound loaf.