This bread is great with soup, fabulous for bruschetta - and couldn't be much simpler.
For one large (6" by 12") loaf, you'll need:
+ pate fermentee, 1 batch
+ lukewarm water, 1/3 cup
+ sugar, 1 teaspoon
+ dry yeast, 1 teaspoon
+ buttermilk or water, 2/3 cup
+ salt, 1 pinch
+ flour, 2 cups
+ olive oil, for brushing
The day before you make the bread, prepare the pate fermentee.
On the following day, combine the water, yeast and sugar. Rest for 5-10 minutes, or until foamy. Scrape the pate fermentee, yeast-water mixture, salt and water/buttermilk into a stand mixer (with a bread hook) or food processor (with a dough blade). Combine. Gradually incorporate the flour, until you have a soft, smooth dough.
Briefly knead dough on a floured surface. Transfer to an oiled bowl. Cover; rise in a warm location for 45 minutes. Gently shape into a loaf, and transfer to an oiled baking sheet. Lightly brush with remaining olive oil. Cover; rise for 90 minutes.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Bake bread for 20-22 minutes, remembering to turn the sheet pan occasionally to prevent uneven browning. Enjoy!
* While water will yield a "holier," more familiar product, the buttermilk lends the bread a rich flavor, increased moisture and a pleasant chewiness. Experiment with any combination of the two!