Adapted from “Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day,” by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoë François (Thomas Dunne Books, 2007)
Time: About 45 minutes plus about 3 hours’ resting and rising
1 1/2 tablespoons yeast
1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
6 1/2 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour, more for dusting dough
1. In a large bowl or plastic container, mix yeast and salt into 3 cups lukewarm water (about 100 degrees). Stir in flour, mixing until there are no dry patches. Dough will be quite loose. Cover, (with a towel) but not with an airtight lid. Let dough rise at room temperature 2 hours (or up to 5 hours).
2. Bake at this point or refrigerate, covered, for as long as two weeks. When ready to bake, sprinkle a little flour on dough and cut off a grapefruit-size piece with serrated knife. Turn dough in hands to lightly stretch surface, creating a rounded top and a lumpy bottom. Put dough on pizza peel (parchement or wax paper works for this as well) sprinkled with cornmeal; let rest 40 minutes. Repeat with remaining dough or refrigerate it.
3. Place broiler pan on bottom of oven. Place baking stone (all I had was a stoneware pie plate which works but you can only bake one at a time) on middle rack and turn oven to 450 degrees; heat stone at that temperature for 20 minutes.
4. Dust dough with flour, slash top with serrated or very sharp knife three times. Slide onto stone. Pour one cup (I'm gonna try 2 cups water to see if it will get any crispier) hot water into broiler pan and shut oven quickly to trap steam. Bake until well browned, about 30 minutes. Cool completely.
Yield: 4 loaves.
Variation: If not using stone, stretch rounded dough into oval and place in a greased, nonstick loaf pan. Heat oven to 450 degrees for 5 minutes. Place pan on middle rack.
I know 6 cups of flour seems like a lot, but go ahead and make the whole batch. That way you have the dough all ready to go for the next meal and just have to pull off a piece! We hammered two loaves over dinner last night but then maybe we are gluttons. If you are using refrigerated dough, then let rest 1 hour and 40 mins before sprinkling with flour and slicing the top. Now go ahead, humor me and scroll back to the top. That really is MY bread. Isn't it beautiful?!? Now let's see if I can actually do this again...