- Combine all of the ingredients, and mix and knead them together — by hand, mixer or bread machine — until you've made a soft, smooth dough. The dough should be just a bit sticky; add additional all-purpose flour or water if needed.
- Allow the dough to rise, covered, for 1 1/2 to 2 hours; it'll become puffy, though it may not double in bulk.
- Lightly grease the base of a long covered baker or a covered bread loaf baker and sprinkle it with cornmeal or semolina.
- Gently deflate the dough, and shape it into a log. Place it in the pan and allow to rise, covered, for about an hour, until it crests about 1" over the rim of the pan.
- Before placing the bread in the oven, make 3 diagonal slashes across the top.
- Place the lid on the pan and place the pan into a cold oven. Set the oven to 400°F and bake for 35 minutes.
- Remove the lid and bake until the bread is golden brown, another 5 to 10 minutes. The bread will register 190°F on an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center.
- Remove the bread from the oven and transfer it to a rack to cool completely.
- Store, well-wrapped, for 3 days at room temperature, or freeze for up to 3 months.
Tips from our Bakers
- If you don't have a long covered baker, shape the dough into an oval loaf, and place it on a lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheet. Follow directions above, baking for 35 to 40 minutes.
- For a classic crusty boule: Shape the dough into a round, and place it in a lightly greased, cornmeal-sprinkled cloche bread baker. Follow the directions as written, baking for 35 minutes covered, and 10 to 15 minutes uncovered. Yield: 1 boule.