Adapted from the Silver Palate Cookbook, this is the perfect bread to serve alongside a large salad or a minestrone soup.
2 teaspoons yeast
2 cups warm water
3 cups semolina flour
1 tablespoon salt
2 to 3 cups bread flour
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 to 4 tablespoons cornmeal
Pour water over yeast in a bowl and allow yeast to proof. Add semolina flour and salt and stir well. Add 2 cups of bread flour and stir. Continue adding and kneading flour until dough is smooth and elastic. Pour olive oil over dough and turn to coat. Cover with towel and set aside until dough has tripled in bulk – about 2 hours.
Punch down dough, knead briefly and cover and let rise again until double.
Punch down the dough again, cut it into thirds, and shape each third into a thin loaf about 24 inches long. Sprinkle a baking sheet with 3 to 4 tablespoons cornmeal and arrange the loaves on the sheet leaving as much room between the loaves as possible. Cover and let rise for another 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Beat egg with 1 tablespoon water and brush on the loaves. Slash loaves decoratively on top with a sharp knife, making diagonal cuts.
Slide the baking sheet onto the middle rack of the oven and reduce heat to 375 degrees. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, or until loaves are brown and sound hollow when thumped. Remove from oven and cool on wire rack.