3/4 C. warm water
1 t. active dry yeast (save the rest of the package for use in the dough)
1 C. bread flour
pinch granulated sugar
About 1 1/4 t. active dry yeast (the remainder of the package used for the starter)
1 C. warm water
1 t. salt
1 T. olive oil
1 t. honey
2 1/2 C. bread flour
Prepare the starter 6 – 12 hours ahead. Pour warm water into a large, non-metallic bowl and sprinkle yeast on top; stir to dissolve. Add flour and sugar; beat until smooth. Cover with plastic wrap and let stand in a warm place 6 – 12 hours.
Dissolve yeast in warm water in a small bowl; add to starter along with salt, oil and honey. Beat until smooth. Add flour (it’s okay to add it all at once) and mix until thoroughly incorporated. The dough will be halfway between a batter and regular bread dough — hard to stir but too wet to knead.
Let mixture rest about 5 minutes, then beat and fold dough with a heavy wooden spoon, plastic wrap and let rise in a warm, draft-free place 1 1/2 – 2 hours or until nearly tripled in bulk.
Heavily flour a baking sheet and have extra flour available to dust your hands. Very carefully turn out 1 piece of dough (it will be extremely soft and sticky) onto the floured baking sheet without deflating the air bubble. Run your fingers along the sides to plump the loaf and form the distinctive slipper shape. To make the more square “cushion” loaf, lift dough in center and allow ends to fold under. Repeat with second loaf on the same sheet. Let rise, uncovered, 30 minutes.
About 15 minutes before end of rising time, preheat oven to 400°F. Bake bread 30-35 minutes or up to 40 minutes if you prefer a crisper crust. Remove from pan and let cool on wire racks.
This bread is best eaten on the day it is made, but, if you must store it, use a waxed paper bag from the bakery rather than plastic to keep the crust crisp.