3 cups of warm water
1 1/2 TB spoon granulated yeast
1 1/2 TB spoons kosher or coarse salt
6 1/2 cups unsifted, unbleached, all purpose flour white flour
cornmeal for dusting rising board
items recommended: small wooden cutting board or pizza peel, and a baking stone (or pizza stone)
Mixing and storing the dough
1. Add yeast and salt to warm water in a 5-quart bowl or resealable plastic container (not airtight). Let yeast activate for a few minutes.
2. Add all of the flour at once, measuring it using the scoop and sweep method. Mix in flour with a wooden spoon, or a heavy -duty stand mixer fitted with the dough hook until the mixture is uniform. If hand mixing and the dough becomes to difficult with a spoon,you can reach into your mixing vessel with very wet hands and press the mixture together. Don't knead! No kneading required for this dough. This step is done in minutes.
3. Dough will be wet and loose enough to rise and take shape of container. Cover with a lid and allow to rise at room temperature until it begins to collapse approx. 2 hours but up to five hours. (see picture below) this dough will rise to fill this container. At this point, you can use a portion of this dough. Fully refrigerated dough is less sticky and easier to work with. The first time you make this bread, refrigerate the dough for at least three hours before baking.
4. When you are ready to bake a loaf, first dust a wooden board or pizza peel by sprinkling it liberally with cornmeal to prevent the loaf from sticking to it when you slide it into the oven. Sprinkle the surface of your refrigerated dough with flour. Pull up and cut off a 1-pound (grape fruit size) piece of dough. Holding the dough in your hands add a little more flour as needed, to help the dough from sticking to your hands. Gently stretch the dough around to the bottom on all four sides, rotating the ball a quarter-turn as you go. Most dusting flour will fall off. The bottom will appear to be a collection of bunched ends, but will flatten out and adhere during resting and baking. The entire process should take no more than one minute.
5. Place the ball shaped dough on the corn meal covered board. Allow to rest on the peel for about 40 minutes. Depending on the age of the dough, you may not see much rise during this period; more rising will occur during baking ("oven spring").
6. Twenty minutes before baking, preheat the oven to 450 degrees, with a baking stone placed on the middle rack. Place an empty broiler tray for holding water on the other shelf that won't interfere with the rising bread.
7. Just before putting dough into the oven, dust the top with flour and slash bread with a serrated knife. Slash 1/4 inch deep, three or four lines /or in a tic-tac-toe pattern.
8. Oven is ready after twenty minutes, even if not fully preheated. With a quick forward jerking motion of the wrist (this took a few practice trys to perfect), slide the loaf off the board and onto the preheated baking stone. Quickly and carefully pour one cup of hot water into the boiler tray and close the oven to trap the steam. (steam is important).
9. Bake for 30 minutes, or until crust is nicely browned and firm to the touch. Allow bread to cool completely on a wire rack. I usually take a pastry brush and brush off the excess flour used to dust.
10. Store remaining dough in the refrigerator for up to 14 days. You'll find that even one days storage improves flavor of the bread.
Dough can be frozen and stored in one pound portions in an airtight container. Then defrost overnight in the refrigerator prior to baking day.
This is a very tasty crusty bread. Goes excellent with Italian cuisine or slathered with butter while still warm. Hope you enjoy! Let me know if you try it.