Combine the ingredients for the sponge together in a large mixing bowl. Cover and allow to rest at room temperature for about 4 hours.
To make the bread
Once the mixture has doubled in bulk and is light and airy add the remaining ingredients for the bread and mix to form a soft sticky dough.
Shape into a ball and leave in the bowl, covered at room temperature for 1 – 1½ hours or until doubled in size.
Shape the dough into a neat oval and place on a well-floured baking sheet. Lightly brush with a little oil, cover loosely and leave until doubled in size (about 1 – 1½ hours).
Preheat the oven to 220℃ (200℃ fan)/425°F/gas mark 7. Place a heavy baking sheet in the centre of the oven to heat up and an empty shallow roasting pan in the bottom of the oven. Get a jug of about 300ml (½ pt cold water ready
When the loaf is ready to bake quickly slide off the floured baking sheet onto the hot oven sheet. Then quickly pour the jug of water into the roasting tin in the bottom of the oven shutting the oven door quickly to entrap as much steam as possible.
Reduce the oven temperature to 200℃ (180℃ fan)/400°F/gas mark 6 and bake for 35 –40 minutes or until the loaf has a golden and sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.
Nutrition information is calculated using an online nutrition database - is approximate and is meant as a guideline only.