- 2 cups lukewarm water (105-115F)
- 1 pkg active dry yeast
- 3 cups semolina flour
- 1 Tbsp salt
- 2 to 3 cups bread flour or unbleached AP flour
- 2 Tbsp cornmeal
- 1 egg
- sesame seeds (optional)
1. Pour the water into a mixing bowl, stir in the yeast, and let stand for 10 minutes. Stir again to be certain all the yeast is dissolved.
2. Add semolina flour and salt and stir well.
3. Add 2 cups of the bread flour and stir to make a sticky dough. Turn dough out onto a work surface and let rest while you wash and dry the bowl.
4. Begin kneading dough, sprinkling it with the remaining cup of bread flour as necessary to keep it from sticking to your hands. After about 10 minutes the dough will be smooth and elastic and will have absorbed more or less the last cup of flour.
5. Shape the dough into a ball and place it in the bowl. Pour the olive oil over the dough and turn it several times to coat with the oil. Cover bowl with a towel and set aside until dough has tripled in bulk (The increase in volume is more important than the time it takes; defending on room temperatures this may be 2 or more hours. Do not try to force the dough to rise more rapidly by setting it on radiators, etc. This can sour the bread.
6. Punch down the dough, turn it out onto a lightly floured work surface, knead briefly (5 minutes or less) and return it to the bowl. Cover and let rise again until doubled.
7. Punch down the dough, cut it into thirds and shape each third into a thin loaf of about 24 inches long. Sprinkle a baking sheet with 3-4 Tbsp cornmeal and arrange the loaves on the sheet, leaving as much room between loaves as possible. Cover and let rise until not quite doubled, about 30 minutes.
8. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
9. Beat together the egg and 1 Tbsp water. When the loaves have rise, brush them well with this egg wash. Sprinkle sesame seeds to taste, and slash loaves decoratively on top with a sharp knife, making diagonal cuts.
10. Slide the baking sheet onto the middle rack of the oven and reduce heat to 375 degrees. Bake for 30-40 minutes, or until loaves are brown and sound hollow when the bottoms are thumped. (for a crisper bottom crust, remove loaves from the baking sheet and place them directly on the oven rack for the last 5-10 minutes of baking time)
11. Remove loaves from oven and cool on a rack. Wrap when cool.
Makes 3 loaves, about 18 inches long