Mix the dough:
In a cup combine room temperature water and yeast, stir to combine. Set aside.
In a large bowl combine flour and salt, then stir to combine. Add the yeast and water mixture and using a firm spatula stir until a shaggy dough forms.
Use your hands to knead to mix the dough together for 2-3 minutes, to ensure that yeast and salt are evenly distributed.
1st rest & fold:
Cover the dough with a tea towel and allow to rest for 30-60 minutes at room temperature.
Now, wet your hands and grab the edge of the dough and pull it up until it stretches but before it starts to tear, then fold it over. Continue going around the dough stretching and folding it until the dough no longer allows you to stretch or pull at it easily like it did when you started.
Quickly turn the dough over, folded side down. The dough should be smoother than when you started, but still have some roughness to it.
Visual: The folded dough will pool back into the rest of the dough easily.
2nd rest and fold:
Cover the dough again and rest for 30-60 minutes.
Repeat the stretch and fold method described in step 2 with wet hands, then turn the dough folds side down.
Visual: The dough will be even smoother then after the first fold.
3rd rest and fold:
Cover and rest the dough one final time for 30-60 minutes, followed by stretching and folding once again. Turn the dough folds side down.
Visual: The dough should have a smooth surface and each fold should have visible ridges, without pooling back into the rest of the dough quickly.
Cover the dough with a tea towel and allow to proof at room temperature for about 12-18 hours or until it's almost doubled in size.
Cold fermentation: transfer the risen dough into the refrigerator and leave it in the fridge for 12 hours or up to a week. Peak flavor, aroma, and texture will be during a 3-5 day period.
Invert onto the working surface: Remove from the fridge. Dust working surface with flour liberally. With wet hands go around the edges of the bowl with dough and loosen the dough from the bowl.
Inver the bowl with dough onto a floured surface.
Divide the dough: Using a bench scraper or knife divide the dough if needed. Flour hands and surface as needed to prevent sticking.
Pre-shape: Flatten the dough slightly. Fold the right side towards the middle, then the left side towards the middle (envelope style). Now roll the long "envelope" tightly forming a roll. Leave to rest for at least an hour on floured surface or parchment paper until ready to bake or use.
Use as directed in the recipe.
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