Authentic Italian Bread
1 tsp active dry yeast
1 scant tsp malt syrup
1/3 c warm water
2/3 c milk at room temperature
1 c (135 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
Starter: Stir the yeast and malt into the water; let stand until foamy, about 10 minutes. Stir in the milk and beat in the flour with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon about 100 strokes until smooth. Cover with plastic wrap and let stand until bubbly, at least 4 hours but preferably overnight.
2 c water, at room temperature
6 1/4 c (860 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tbs salt
Mix the starter and the water in a mixer until the starter is well broken up. Add the flour and salt and mix for 2 to 3 minutes at low speed. The dough will be smooth but won't pull away from the side of the bowl. Change to the dough hook and knead at medium speed, scraping down the side of the bowl as necessary, until the dough is elastic but slightly sticky, 3 to 4 minutes. Finish kneading by hand on a floured work surface. Place in a well-oiled bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and let rise until doubled, about 1 1/2 hours. The dough is ready when it is very bubbled and blistered. Cut the dough in half on a floured surface and shape into 2 round loaves. Place on an oiled cookie sheet sprinkled with cornmeal. Cover and let rise till doubled, about 1 hour. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Bake about 1 hour and cool on racks. To get a really good crust spray the loaves with water 3 times in the first 15 minutes of baking.