- 2 tablespoons active dry yeast
- 3 cups warm water (110° to 115°)
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 6-1/2 to 7-1/2 cups bread flour
- Cornmeal and sesame seeds, optional
- In a small bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. In a large bowl, combine sugar, salt, yeast mixture and 3 cups flour; beat on medium speed 3 minutes. Stir in enough remaining flour to form a soft dough (dough will be sticky).
- Turn onto a floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, 6-8 minutes. Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease the top. Cover with a kitchen towel and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 30 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 500°. Punch dough down. Divide and shape into 6 balls. Place 3 in. apart on 2 baking sheets that have been generously sprinkled with cornmeal or greased. Cover with a kitchen towel; let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 15 minutes. Spray loaves with water; if desired, generously sprinkle with sesame seeds. Using a sharp knife, score surface with shallow cuts in an X pattern. Bake 2 minutes. Reduce oven setting to 425°. Bake until golden brown and internal temperature reaches 190°-200°. Remove from pans to wire racks to cool.
- Cut a thin slice off the top of bread. Hollow out bottom portion of loaf, leaving a 1/4-in. shell. Discard removed bread or save for another use, such as croutons.