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This beautiful loaf’s big, airy crumb is a result of prolonged fermentation. Don’t rush it. It’s worth the wait.
Hands-on: 30 minutesTotal: 17 hours 30 minutes
- 2 cups water, divided
- 1¼ cups all-purpose flour
- 1¾ tsp. active dry yeast (1 package)
- 4 cups bread flour
- 2 tsp. kosher salt
- 2 Tbsp. cornmeal
- 1 Tbsp. olive oil
- To make the sponge, combine ½ cup water, all-purpose flour, and a pinch of the yeast. Stir to dissolve, cover with a towel or cheesecloth, and let stand at room temperature 12 hours.
- Add to the sponge 1½ cups water, remaining yeast, bread flour, and salt. Beat by hand or electric mixer 5–6 minutes until elastic. Dough will be very loose and wet. Cover with plastic, and leave at room temperature for 3 hours, stirring briefly every hour to deflate.
- Coat a baking sheet with olive oil and sprinkle with cornmeal. Divide dough into 2 equal portions. Transfer to prepared pan and, using oiled hands, shape each into a flat oval. Oil the top surface of dough and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Allow to rise 1½ hours more. The dough will spread.
- Preheat oven to 475°F. Spray the surface of the risen dough with warm water, then bake until golden brown and hollow sounding, about 20–30 minutes. Cool completely on a rack before serving.