- 2 envelopes (1/4 ounce each) active dry yeast
- 1 1/2 tablespoons salt
- 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons sugar
- 2 cups warm water (about 110?F.)
- 5 cups flour
- 4 tablespoons yellow cornmeal
- 1 egg yolk mixed with 1 tablespoon water
- Combine the yeast, salt, sugar, and water in a large mixing bowl. Whisk with a fork until the yeast is dissolved. Mix in the flour, 1/4 cup at a time, until the dough comes away from the sides of the bowl and forms a ball. (This procedure can be done with an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook. Add the flour all at once with the mixer on low speed and beat until the dough climbs up the hook, about 3 minutes.)
- Lightly oil the inside of a large bowl. Place the dough in the bowl. Turn the dough to oil all sides. Cover the bowl with a clean cloth and put in a warm, draft-free place. Let rise until it doubles in size, about 1 1/2 hours.
- Remove the dough from the bowl and invert it onto a heavily floured surface. Divide the dough into 2 equal portions. Pat each portion into a large rectangle, about 3/4 inch thick. Roll up the dough, beginning with the short side and stopping after each full turn to press the edge of the roll firmly into the flat sheet of dough to seal. Press with your fingertips. Tuck and roll so that any seams disappear into the dough.
- Sprinkle a baking sheet evenly with 2 tablespoons of the cornmeal. Place the loaves on the baking sheet, about 3 inches apart. Sprinkle with the remaining 2 tablespoons cornmeal. Cover the loaves with a cloth and let rise until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
- Preheat the oven to 400?F.
- With a sharp knife, make diagonal slashes, about 1 inch apart, on top of each loaf. With a pastry brush, brush the egg wash evenly over each loaf. Place a cup of hot water in an ovenproof container on the baking sheet with the loaves. Bake for 45 minutes, or until the bread is golden brown. Remove from the oven and cool on a rack.
- Slice to serve. The bread is also delicious reheated. Place, uncovered, in a 350?F. oven for about 15 minutes, or until heated through.