cups all-purpose or bread flour, plus more for work surface
teaspoon instant yeast
Olive oil, as needed
Cornmeal or wheat bran as needed (optional)
1. In a large bowl, combine flour, yeast, and salt. Add 1 1/2 cups water and stir until blended; dough will be shaggy and sticky. Coat a second large bowl with olive oil. Transfer dough to oiled bowl and cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rest at least 12 hours, but preferably up to 18, in a room about 70 degrees in temperature. When surface is dotted with bubbles, dough is ready. 2. Lightly flour work surface. Place dough on work surface and sprinkle with more flour. Fold the dough over on itself once or twice. Loosely cover with plastic wrap and let rest about 15 minutes. 3. Sprinkle just enough flour over work surface and your fingers to keep dough from sticking; quickly and gently shape dough into a ball. Generously coat a cotton towel (not terry cloth) with flour, cornmeal, or wheat bran; place dough seam side down on towel and dust with more flour, cornmeal, or wheat bran. Cover with a second cotton towel and let rise until it has more than doubled in size and does not readily spring back when poked with a finger, about 2 hours. 4. After about 1 1/2 hours, preheat oven to 500 degrees. Place a 6- to 8-quart heavy covered pot, such as cast-iron or Pyrex, in oven as it heats. When dough has fully risen, carefully remove pot from oven. Remove top towel from dough and slide your hand under the bottom towel; turn dough over into pot, seam side up. Shake pan once or twice if dough looks unevenly distributed; it will straighten out as it bakes. Cover, and bake 30 minutes. Uncover, and continue baking until browned, 15 to 30 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.