This beautiful loaf’s big, airy crumb is a result of prolonged fermentation. Don’t rush it. It’s worth the wait.
Serves: 16Hands-on: 30 minutesTotal: 17 hours 30 minutesDifficulty: Medium
- 2 cups water, divided
- 1 1⁄4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 3⁄4 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 1⁄2 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 1 1⁄2 cups water, remaining yeast, bread flour, and salt. Beat by hand or electric mixer 5 to 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 1 1⁄2 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 to 30 minutes. Cool completely on a rack before serving.