Mix all of the ingredients together, using the smaller amount of
flour. Mix thoroughly until the dough pulls away from the sides
of the bowl, adding more of the flour if necessary. Turn the
dough out onto a floured surface to knead.
To knead- Fold the far edge of the dough back over on itself
towards you. Press into the dough with the heels of your hands
and push away. After each push, rotate the dough 90°. Repeat
this process in a rhythmic, rocking motion for 5 minutes,
sprinkling only enough flour on your kneading surface to prevent
sticking. Let the dough rest while you scrape out and grease the
mixing bowl. Knead the dough again for 2 to 3 minutes.
Return the dough to the bowl and turn it over once to grease the
top. Cover with plastic wrap and place in a warm, draft-free
place (your turned-off oven works well) until the dough doubles
in bulk, about 1 to 2 hours.
Gently deflate the dough. Cut it in half and shape into two oval
Italian- or longer, thinner French-style loaves. Place the loaves
on a baking sheet generously sprinkled with cornmeal or
semolina. Let the loaves rise, gently covered in greased plastic
wrap, for 45 minutes, until they're noticeably puffy. Toward the
end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 425°F.
Lightly slash the tops of the loaves three or more times
diagonally and brush or spray them generously with lukewarm
water. Place the pan on the middle rack of the oven.
Bake the bread for 25 to 35 minutes, until the crust is golden
brown and sounds hollow to the touch. The interior temperature
of the bread should register at least 190°F on a digital
Remove the loaves from the oven, take them off the pan, and
return them to the oven, placing them right on the rack. Turn the
oven off and crack the door open several inches. Let the loaves
cool in the cooling oven; this will make them extra-crusty.
Store completely cool bread in a paper bag at room temperature
for a couple of days. For longer storage, wrap well and freeze.
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