Makes 2 Small Loaves
- 4 cups flour, plus additional for kneading
- 1 teaspoon yeast (or 2 teaspoons cake yeast)
- 14 ounces cool water
- 1/2 teaspoon salt (or use 1 espresso spoonful)
- Olive oil, for greasing bowl
Place 3 1/2 cups flour in a large bowl. Make a well in the middle. Mix the yeast slightly into the flour and slowly add the water until the dough comes together. Add the remaining 1/2 cup flour if the dough is too sticky, but the desired consistency should still be tacky.
Place the dough on a floured “bench” or counter. Add a little more flour and knead for 10 minutes. Use the palm of your hand to stretch it and turn it over.
Spread the dough out slightly and add the salt. Dust with more flour and continue to knead for several minutes. Knead into a smooth ball and let rise for 1 to 2 hours, in a bowl greased with olive oil and covered with a kitchen towel. You’ll know it’s ready when the dough springs back when you touch it gently with your finger, the temperature of the dough is about 80°F, and it has doubled in size.
Remove the dough from the bowl and cut it in half. Press it down and roll up each piece. Turn them on their sides and roll them up again—this rolls the gas out of them.
Cover the dough for another 30 minutes, this time placed in separate greased bowls; they will double in size once more.
To make the rounds, fold the dough two times, shaping them into balls. Then place the balls seam side down and pull the balls toward you along the counter, being careful not to tear them. The idea is to be forming the dough into smooth balls, gently stretching and pulling the seams to the under side of the loaf each time you pull the balls toward you. Place on a greased sheet pan. Dust with flour. Let sit 30 minutes more, covered.
Preheat the oven to 450°F.
Sprinkle the rounds with flour and press a little air out of the sides. Proof, covered with a kitchen towel, about 10 minutes more. Take a sharp knife and score the top of the rounds several times. Set on another baking sheet and bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until golden brown. Check after 20 minutes. Tap the bottoms and listen to hear if they sound hollow; if they do, they’re ready. Remove them and let cool to room temperature before slicing.