7 cups all purpose flour, plus extra for dusting
2 packets dry active yeast (or 5 teaspoons)
3 cups of warm water , around 100 degrees
1 tablespoon salt
In the bowl of your stand mixer, or if mixing by hand, in a large mixing bowl, combine yeast, warm water, salt and flour. There is no need to allow the yeast to proof. If using a stand mixer, attach the dough hook and mix the dough for a few minutes. You do not have to allow it to knead for long. It will be a little stickier that other bread doughs you may have made. You may have to sprinkle the dough with a little extra flour to pull it out of the bowl. If mixing by hand, stir with a wooden spoon or your hands until the ingredients are well combined, then turn the dough out onto a clean, floured surface. Knead dough by hand for a few minutes.
Form the dough into a ball (again you may need a little flour on you hands to do this) and place it in a large, lightly greased bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and place in a warm place to allow the dough to rise, and double in size. This should take about one hour. I typically place mine inside of my oven (tuned off or set to a bread proof setting if you have one)
Once the dough has doubled in size, divided it into three equal pieces. The dough will be sticky so you will need to dust it, and your hands in extra flour to be able to handle it. Holdng a portion of dough in your hands, form a ball while rotating the dough, pulling and tucking the dough to the underside of the ball to stretch the dough on top. The top should be smooth and even, while the underside will not be so pretty. It does not have to be perfect, you are just trying to make a nice smooth ball out of the dough. Dust more flour on the top, and using a sharp knife make three slashes across the top of the dough. The flour will make it easier to cut through the sticky dough. Place the finished ball on a piece of parchment paper on top of a cutting board. Repeat with the other 2 portions of dough.
Preheat your oven to 450 degrees with one rack in the center of the oven, and one rack at the bottom. Place a few baking sheets, or baking stones in the oven as it heats. You need to be able to fit the three loaves on whatever pans you choose, so keep that in mind. On the bottom rack place a shallow baking pan or jelly roll pan. It just needs to be deep enough to hold 1 cup of water.
Once the oven is done heating, carefuly slide the dough and parchment paper off of the cutting board, onto the heated pans. Then carefully add 1 cup of water to the pan you placed on the bottom rack of the oven. Quickly close the oven. The steam from the water will help crisp the bread.
Let the bread bake for about 30 minutes. Once it is browning on top, and sounds hollow when you tap the top, it’s done.
Allow the loaves to cool. You can freeze a loaf or 2 in large freezer bags if not using right away.