Makes 1 loaf
1 1/4 cups water
3 teaspoons yeast
3 cups unbleached bread flour, divided
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon cornmeal
Combine the water, yeast and 1 cup of flour; stir to form a batter. Allow to ferment for 1 hour.
Add the remaining 2 cups of flour along with the salt and knead the dough for 10-12 minutes.
Place the dough in a bowl at room temperature, cover it with plastic wrap, and allow it to ferment for 1 – 1 ½ hours.
Dust a baking sheet with the cornmeal. Remove the dough from the bowl and gently shape it into a ball. Place it on the baking pan and cover with a towel. Allow it to rise for 1 hour.
Position the oven rack to the center of the oven and place a shallow pan of water directly on the oven floor. Preheat the oven to 425F.
Using a sharp knife, slash the loaf and put it in the oven. Bake the bread for about 20-30 minutes. Remove it from the oven and place it on a wire rack or towel to cool before slicing.
Whole Wheat Bread: substitute 1-3 cups of the flour with whole-wheat flour
Honey-Wheat Bread: whole wheat bread with the addition of 2-3 tablespoons honey
Hot Pepper-Parmesan Bread: add a tablespoon of crushed hot pepper and ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
Garlic-Herb Bread: add a tablespoon of fresh-minced garlic and 2-3 tablespoons fresh minced herbs
Makes 1 loaf