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 stock pot, 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, but not with an airtight lid. Let dough rise at room temperature 2 hours (or up to 5 hours).
2. At this point you can bake one or more loaves or refrigerate, covered, for as long as two weeks.
3. When ready to bake, sprinkle a little flour on dough and cut into four equal sections with serrated knife. Pull out a section. Turn dough in hands to lightly stretch surface, creating a rounded top and a lumpy bottom. Put dough on pizza peel sprinkled with cornmeal or flour; let rest 40 minutes. (If you don’t have a pizza peel, you can rest the dough ball on parchment paper and put the whole thing, paper and all, directly onto the stone. Or stretch rounded dough into oval and place in a greased, nonstick loaf pan.) Repeat with remaining dough or refrigerate.
4. Place baking stone on middle rack and turn oven to 450 degrees; heat stone at that temperature for 20 minutes. (Optional) Place broiler pan on bottom of oven. (I skip this water step, as it makes no difference that I can perceive, but you should definitely try it at least once.)
5. Dust dough ball with flour, slash top with serrated or very sharp knife three times; the design is up to you! Slide onto stone. Pour one cup hot water into broiler pan and shut oven quickly to trap steam. Bake until well browned, about 25-30 minutes. (If your oven is uneven, as many are, you will want to spin the loaf 180? midway through baking.) Set on a rack to cool.
6. Impress your family and friends by serving them freshly baked bread.
Also, see my notes below the picture…
– This recipe is very forgiving. I have made all kinds of errors and the bread still turned out edible.
– Substitute 2 or 3 cups of white flour for whole wheat.
– To make seeded bread, you can include up to 1 cup of seeds inside the bread by adding them along with the first few cups of flour. Once the dough ball is ready to rest, sprinkle seeds on top before baking. Sunflower, chia, pepitas (pumpkin seeds) and poppy seeds work well. Uncooked rolled oats are nice too.