Classic Sourdough French Bread
|Warm water||2 Cup (32 tbs) (About 110Â°)|
|Sourdough starter||1 Cup (16 tbs) (At Room Temperature)|
|All-purpose flour||8 Cup (128 tbs), unsifted|
|Cornmeal||1⁄2 Cup (8 tbs)|
|Cornstarch||1 Teaspoon, mixed with 1/2 cup water|
|Water||1⁄2 Cup (8 tbs) (For Mixing The Cornstarch)|
In a large bowl, combine water, starter, and 4 cups of the flour; stir until smooth.
Cover bowl with clear plastic wrap and let stand in a warm place (about: 85°) for 6 to 8 hours or until mixture is full of bubbles and spongy-looking.
Stir in salt, sugar, and enough of the remaining flour (about 3 cups) to form a very stiff dough.
Turn dough out onto floured board; knead until smooth (10 to 20 minutes), adding flour as needed to prevent sticking.
Turn dough over in a greased bowl; cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled (2 to 2 1/2 hours).
Punch dough down and divide in half.
Knead each piece gently on a floured board just until dough has a smooth surface.
If you have only 1 oven, wrap half the dough in clear plastic wrap and refrigerate.
For an oblong loaf, shape dough into a smooth log by rolling it back and forth, gently elongating loaf to about 14 inches.
Sprinkle a piece of stiff cardboard (about 7 by 18 inches) with 3 tablespoons cornmeal and set loaf on top.
For a round loaf, shape dough into a smooth ball.
Place loaf on a 12-inch-square piece of stiff cardboard sprinkled with 3 tablespoons cornmeal.
Cover loaves lightly; let rise in a warm place until puffy and almost doubled (1 to 1 1/2 hours).
With oven racks in the 2 lowest positions, place a baking sheet on top rack as oven preheats to 400°.
Just before bread is ready to bake, place a rimmed baking sheet on lowest rack and pour in boiling water about 1/4 inch deep.
Meanwhile, heat cornstarch and water to boiling, stirring; cool slightly.
With a razor blade or sharp floured knife, cut 1/2-inch-deep slashes in top of loaf€”3 slightly slanting slashes in oblong loaf, 4 slashes in a crisscross pattern in round loaf.
Then brush top and sides evenly with cornstarch mixture.
Carefully slide loaf from cardboard onto baking sheet in oven.
Bake at 400° for 10 minutes; then brush evenly again with cornstarch mixture.
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes longer or until loaves are golden brown: and sound hollow when tapped.
Cool on racks.