Instantly view the recipe on any recipe blog with our free Chrome extension
Get 3 ingredients delivered today
In a medium-sized bowl combine 1 and 1/2 cups (200g) of the flour, 1 cup (240g) of the water, and yeast. Stir with a wooden spoon until the mixture is well mixed and free of lumps.
Cover the bowl will plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight, at least 12 hours but up to 24 hours. This will add a lot of structure and flavor to the finished bread.
Remove the sponge from the refrigerator and add the remaining 1 cup (240g) water. Gently run a rubber spatula around the outer edge to release the sponge from the bowl. The water you just added will make this easier.
Transfer the sponge mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the remaining 2 and 3/4 cups (353g) flour and the salt.
Beat on low speed for 1 minute. Turn the speed up one notch and beat for another minute. Then turn the speed up one more notch and beat until the dough starts to release from the sides of the bowl, about 4 minutes. You may need to scrape down the sides of the bowl in order to get the dough to mix together properly.
Drizzle the olive oil in a large bowl and rub it around to evenly coat the inside of the bowl. With wet hands, transfer the dough to the bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 45 minutes.
Using a well-greased scraper, gently fold the dough over onto itself. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for another 45 minutes. Repeat this step once more and let the dough rise for a final 45 minutes. (The dough isn't going to rise much during this stage. Don'tpanic, this is normal for this recipe.)
Liberally flour your work surface with flour and let the dough slide out of the bowl onto the counter. Be very gently here so you don't knock all the air out of the dough and try to handle the dough as little as possible.
Liberally dust the top of the dough with flour. Using 2 well-floured bench scrapers, carefully manipulate the dough from the sides to form a square. Take care not to put pressure on top of the dough.
Cut the dough in half, down the middle of the square. Gently shape each half into 2 loaves by using the bench scrapers to manipulate the sides.
Lay a lint-free baking towel over a large baking sheet and liberally dust it with flour. Using both bench scrapers, slide them under both ends of the dough and transfer the dough to the prepared cloth. Fold the cloth up in the middle to separate and support the loaf. Repeat with the remaining loaf.
Cover the dough with another lint-free cloth and let it rest for 20 minutes. (The dough will rise slightly and should resemble a puffy marshmallow. It will be loose and full of gas. Once you place the dough into the hot oven, it will quickly puff up.)
Meanwhile, adjust the oven rack to the lowest position. Place a large inverted baking sheet on the rack and preheat the oven to 450F.
Cut 2 pieces of parchment paper to about 12x6-inches. Place the parchment paper on a pizza peel or inverted rimmed baking sheet.
Using the cloth, gently roll the first dough loaf over to loosen it. Carefully slide your fingers under each end of the dough and transfer it to the prepared parchment paper. Repeat with the second loaf.
Dust off any excess flour and spray the loaves lightly with water
Carefully slide the parchment with loaves on the heated baking sheet in the oven using a jerking motion.
Bake, spraying the loaves with water twice more during the first 5 minutes of baking time, until the crust is a deep golden brown, about 22-27 minutes. The internal temperature of the bread should be 205-210°F.
Transfer to an oven rack to cool completely before slicing and serving.