I am usually not a fan of black pepper, but I was surprised by how much I liked the extra spice it gave the bread. This does beautifully toasted and it's fast becoming a family favorite with some salted butter spread on top.
- Whisk the ingredients of Batch 1 together in a stand mixer bowl and let stand for 5-10 minutes. If the yeast clumps up, simply whisk again.
- Add the ingredients of Batch 2 into the stand mixer and use a spoon or spatula to hand mix until ingredients start to come together. Switch to a dough hook and mix for about 2-3 minutes, adding AP flour as necessary to make workable dough. You may need to scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl occasionally at the beginning.
- Remove the dough hook and cover with plastic wrap and let rest for 10-15 minutes.
- Reattach dough hook and mix for about 10 minutes. Sprinkle with AP flour as necessary.
- Lightly oil another bowl and turn dough into it, rolling the dough gently to cover it evenly with oil. Cover with a kitchen towel and let it double in size (about 1.5 hours).
- On a lightly floured surface, divide dough in half and shape into round loaves. Sprinkle a baking sheet with the remaining cornmeal and place loaves on it seam-side down. Cover with a kitchen towel and let rise again until barely doubled (about 45 minutes).
- Position a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat to 350 F. Bake the bread until it is well-browned and sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom, about 45-50 minutes. Remove from the oven and set on a wire rack to cool.