Ingredients

How to make it

  • Combine 5 ounces of flour, ¼ teaspoon of yeast, all of the honey, and all of the bottled water (making certain the water is around body temperature of 98 or 99 degrees) in a straight-sided plastic container.
  • Cover loosely and refrigerate for 8 to 12 hours.
  • After you take the starter out of the refrigerator, place it in the bowl of a stand mixer and add the remaining 11 ounces of flour, the remaining yeast, and all the salt.
  • If you like, you can add a crushed Vitamin C tablet -- this aids the dough in forming glutens, so your bread will end up with a better texture.
  • Using the dough hook, knead the mixture on low for 2 to 3 minutes just until it comes together. Cover dough with a kitchen towel and allow to rest for 20 minutes.
  • After 20 minutes, knead dough on medium speed for 5 to 10 minutes or until you are able to gently pull a small piece of the dough into a thin sheet that (1) doesn't tear, and (2) allows light to pass through. The dough will be sticky, but not so sticky that you can't handle it.
  • While the dough is kneading, pour half of the hot water into a shallow pan and place on the bottom rack of your oven. This creates a warm, humid environment, which is perfect for the rising process.
  • Grease inside of a straight-sided container with vegetable oil. Place dough ball into container and set on the rack above pan of water. I like to use a clear plastic juice pitcher, so I can see exactly how my dough is rising. If you put a rubber band around the pitcher just at the top of your dough, you'll know precisely how much it has risen).
  • Allow to rise until doubled in size, 1 to 2 hours.
  • Once the dough has doubled (it may even have tripled after 2 hours), turn it onto counter top, lightly dust your hands with flour, and press the dough out with your knuckles; then fold 1 side in towards the middle of the mass and then the other, as if you were making a tri-fold wallet.
  • Repeat a second time.
  • Cover the dough with a kitchen towel and allow to rest for another 10 minutes.
  • After 10 minutes, flatten your dough again with your knuckles and then fold the dough in onto itself, as if you were shaping something that looks like a jellyfish.
  • Turn the dough over and squeeze the bottom together so that the top surface of the dough is smooth.
  • Place the dough back onto the counter and begin to roll it gently between your hands. Do not grab the dough; simply allow it to move gently back and forth between your hands, moving in a circular motion.
  • Move the dough ball to a pizza peel that has been sprinkled with the cornmeal.
  • Cover with the kitchen towel and allow the dough to bench proof for 1 hour, or until you poke the dough and it quickly fills back in where you poked it.
  • Place an unglazed terra cotta dish upside down into the oven (unless you have a pizza stone, which is what I use -- it's perfect for this) and heat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  • Combine ⅓ cup of water and cornstarch in a small bowl.
  • Uncover the dough and brush the surface with this mixture.
  • Gently slash the top surface of the dough ball in several places, approximately ⅓ to ½-inch deep. This helps the bread to expand once it starts baking.
  • Add more of the hot water to the shallow pan in the oven if it has evaporated.
  • Slide the bread onto the terra cotta dish or the pizza stone in the oven and bake for 50 to 60 minutes. (No need to overbake -- the last time I made this loaf, it took only 47 minutes for the bread to reach the proper internal temperature.)
  • You only need to bake the bread until it has reached an internal temperature of 205 to 210 degrees F. (The reason you don't want the internal temperature to reach the boiling point of water -- 212 degrees F. -- is simply that you don't want the water to vaporize and leave you with a dried-out loaf.)
  • Remove to a cooling rack and allow to sit for a minimum of 30 minutes before slicing.

Reviews & Comments 5

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  • kitchenscientist 11 years ago
    Thank you for all the great tips! I am really exploring bread-making right now (even bought my own grain mill...I tend to go all-out when something catches my interest). I have never tried the water-cornstarch combo and am looking forward to experimenting with it. I will definitely try your recipe!
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  • dond 11 years ago
    I've never used a bread machine. I can't see the advantage over simply combining the ingredients, mixing, kneading, and baking. It all seems to simple, and you have control over the process -- which is why I like cooking, as opposed to, say, working on government policy or raising children (have done both and believe me, neither one gives you much of a sense of being in control). Bread flour is pretty easy to find -- I always buy King Arthur bread flour at my local Fresh Fields. Again, with King Arthur flour, I know exactly what I'm getting -- they're fanatical about quality control. You can obviously use all purpose flour, but you do so at your own risk. Let me know how you make out. [Oops, I just Googled and discovered that you're about 40 miles from the nearest Whole Foods -- but you should be able to find bread flour at some other market.]
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  • dragonflyma 11 years ago
    This is my type of bread so I will have to go out and purchase some bread flour.
    I have never made homemade bread in a oven ,but I have in a bread machine.
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  • dond 11 years ago
    If you go to the King Arthur website, you can see exactly how seriously they take quality control. Also, if you've read Shirley Corriher's COOKWISE, you know that you are likely to find different protein content in flours produced locally around the United States -- another reason to stick with a product you can trust. Apparently, Canadian "all purpose" flour starts out with a higher protein content than the flour in the U.S., so Canadians using this recipe should have no problems with gluten formation (which, of course, is a function of protein content). Adding Vitamin C is something I've found many chefs do in order to help ensure that glutens form properly.
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  • rosemaryblue 11 years ago
    Thank you for some great and interesting tips! I always bake my bread on a pizze stone, and have even used tiles. The cornstarch and water, I have never done. Will try it! Have always slashed the bread. Love King Arthur flour! Love your use of the plastic juice pitcher and rubberband! What kind of scales do you use for weighing the flour? Again, thank you for all the wonderful advice! I really appreciate it.
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