- 1 1/2 teaspoons instant or fast-acting yeast
- 3 1/4 cups warm water (105°F to 115°F)
- 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting and shaping
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1/2 teaspoon olive oil
- In a small bowl, mix 1/4 teaspoon of the yeast and 1 cup of the warm water. Let stand 10 minutes. In a large bowl, stir 1 teaspoon of the yeast-water mixture (discard remaining yeast-water mixture) and 3/4 cup of the water to combine. Add 2 1/4 cups of the flour, and stir with a wooden spoon until a stiff dough forms. Cover with plastic wrap, and leave at room temperature 8 to 12 hours.
- In a large bowl or bowl of a stand mixer, stir 2 1/4 cups of the flour, 1 1/4 teaspoons of the yeast and the salt with a whisk or paddle attachment until just combined. Stir in 1 1/2 cups of the warm water. Add stiff dough mixture; stir with wooden spoon until combined, adding more flour 1 teaspoon at a time until dough just begins to leave sides of bowl; OR, stir on low with paddle attachment 1 minute, increasing to medium speed and mixing 4 minutes, adding more flour 1 teaspoon at a time until dough just begins to leave sides of bowl. Dough will be very sticky.
- Rub olive oil into bottom and sides of a clean large bowl. Use a rubber spatula to transfer dough to oiled bowl. Cover with plastic wrap; let rise in warm place 3 hours until doubled.
- Use a rubber spatula to transfer dough to a well-floured surface; using spatula, fold dough over three times, like a letter. Use a bench scraper or sharp knife to divide dough in 2 equal-sized pieces. Generously sprinkle a clean kitchen towel with flour; use your fingers to gently transfer dough pieces to towel. Cover with another clean kitchen towel and let rise 1 hour.
- Heat oven to 450°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Use fingers to gently transfer loaves to baking sheets. Bake 25-30 minutes or until baked through and golden brown. Transfer loaves to cooling rack to cool completely.