Prep: 1. Combine water, yeast, herbs and salt in a 5-quart bowl. 2. Add flour and mix until universally moist, without any dry patches. 3. Don’t knead. Cover with a lid or plastic wrap (not airtight) and allow to rise at room temperature for 2 hours. If not using immediately, refrigerate the dough and cover with a lid (not airtight). Make: 1. When ready to bake, scoop up a big handful of dough, about size of a grapefruit, and cut it away with a serrated knife. 2. “Cloak” bread with flour and stretch surface of dough around the bottom on all four sides to shape into a round, smooth loaf. 3. Put formed loaf on a pizza peel or cutting board sprinkled liberally with cornmeal to prevent loaf from sticking. Let rise, uncovered, for 40 minutes. 4. 20 minutes before baking, preheat oven to 450. If using a baking stone, place it on the middle rack to preheat. Place an empty broiler tray for holding water on a lower shelf. 5. Dust top of loaf liberally with flour. Slash a 1/4-inch-deep cross or tic-tac-toe pattern into top, using a serrated bread knife. 6. Slide loaf off cutting board and onto preheated baking stone or baking sheet. Quickly but carefully pour about 1 cup of hot water from tap into broiler tray and close oven door to trap steam. 7. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until crust is nicely browned and firm to touch.
The Gatheredtable team made this bread at a cooking class led by Kathleen Flinn and we were all amazed by how easy and delicious homemade bread is! Remaining dough may be stored in refrigerator in a lidded container and used over the next 14 days. Cut off and shape more loaves as you need them. The dough can also be frozen in 1 pound portions in an airtight container and defrosted overnight in the refrigerator prior to baking day. If you like whole grains, try using 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour and 2 cups of whole grain flour!