Combine the flour, warm water and yeast in a bowl. Mix until the flour is mostly hydrated.
Cover the starter mixture with a tea towel and either leave on the kitchen counter overnight (if it is cool) or in the fridge (for the warmer days and months).
The next morning, the starter should have risen and be covered in air pockets.
Add the lukewarm water, yeast and sugar to the starter and mix to combine all ingredients.
Add in about 400 grams of the flour, along with the salt and mix to form a loose shaggy dough.
All the dough to rest for 15 – 20 minutes.
Place half of the leftover flour on the counter. Empty the bread dough on top of the flour, then sprinkle the rest of the flour onto the dough.
Grease your bowl with vegetable oil and set it aside.
Optional – grease your hands with a bit of vegetable oil.
Knead the dough for 10 – 12 minutes or until you have achieved the windowpane stage.
Place your dough into the greased bowl. Cover with a tea towel and allow to proof for 1 to 2 hours.
Shaping the dough
Prepare the banneton (brotform or proofing basket) by flouring the inside of the basket. If you don’t have a banneton, drape a clean tea towel in a glass or plastic bowl, and flour liberally.
You can either make a single large loaf or divide the loaf into two and shape into your desired shapes.
Place the dough into the proofing baskets or bowls, seam side up. Cover with a tea towel and allow to rest for 30 to 90 minutes (dependent on how warm it is). Until the dough has roughly increased in size by about 50% or passes the poke test.
Baking the bread
Preheat the oven to 220°C or 200°C fan-assisted.
Cut out the baking paper on which you can place your bread dough. If using a cast-iron pot, cut the paper to make two long handles for ease of bread placement.
Option 1 – if using a dutch oven or cast-iron pot, place it into the oven to preheat.
Option 2 – if using a baking sheet (cookie sheet), place an additional cookie sheet or dish into the bottom of the oven to preheat.
Take the bread out of the banneton or proofing baskets. Place on the baking paper and score the bread.
Option 1 – place the bread into the cast-iron pot, splash with water, close and place in oven.
Option 2 – place the bread onto the cookie sheet. Put the bread into the oven. Pour boiling water into the sheet or dish at the bottom of the oven to create steam.
Option 1 – Bake for 20 minutes and remove the lid from the pot. Before baking for an additional 15 – 20 minutes. The bread will be done when it has reached an internal temperature of 100°C (190 F) or sounds hollow when tapped.
Option 2 – bake the bread for 35 – 40 minutes. The bread will be done when it has reached an internal temperature of 100°C (190 F) or sounds hollow when tapped.
Allow the bread to cool completely on a wired cooling rack before slicing.