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

Serves: 16


  • 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.