Instructions

  1. 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.
  2. Allow the dough to rise, covered, for 1 1/2 to 2 hours; it'll become puffy, though it may not double in bulk.
  3. Lightly grease the base of a long covered baker or a covered bread loaf baker and sprinkle it with cornmeal or semolina.
  4. 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.
  5. Before placing the bread in the oven, make 3 diagonal slashes across the top.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. Remove the bread from the oven and transfer it to a rack to cool completely.
  9. 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.