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1. For the sponge, in a mixing bowl combine 1/2 cup of the flour, the 1/2 cup warm water, and the yeast. Beat with a wooden spoon until smooth. Cover loosely with plastic wrap. Let sponge stand overnight at room temperature to ferment.
2. Gradually stir in the 1 cup warm water, the 2 teaspoons salt, and just enough of the remaining flour to make a dough that pulls away from the sides of the bowl. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead in enough of the remaining flour to make a stiff dough that is smooth and elastic (8 to 10 minutes total) . Place dough in a lightly greased bowl, turning once. Cover; let rise in a warm place until double (about 1 hour).
3. Turn dough out onto a well-floured baking sheet. Place an extra large bowl upside down over the dough to cover; let rest 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven and a bread stone to 475 degree F. Shape dough on the baking sheet into a circle about 11 inches in diameter by pulling and pressing with your fingertips. (Dont stretch dough too roughly or the dough will deflate; you want to keep air bubbles intact.)
4. Dust your fingers with flour and press into dough to make 1/2-inch-deep indentations, spacing indentations about 2 inches apart. Brush dough with olive oil; sprinkle lightly with coarse salt. Carefully slide focaccia from floured baking sheet to the preheated bread stone.
5. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until golden, checking after 8 minutes and popping any large air bubbles with a sharp knife. Remove foccacia from bread stone with large spatulas. Cool on a wire rack about 15 minutes. Serve warm. Makes 12 servings.