Start to finish: 15 hours (30 minutes active)
Makes one 10-inch round loaf
3 cups bread flour
21⁄2 cups cubed (1/2-inch cubes) pecorino cheese
1 teaspoon salt
3⁄4 teaspoon instant or other active dry yeast
1⁄2 teaspoon ground black pepper
11⁄3 cups cool (55 to 65 degrees) water
Wheat bran, cornmeal or additional flour, for dusting
In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, cheese, salt, yeast and pepper. Add the water and, using a wooden spoon or your hand, mix until you have a wet, sticky dough, about 30 seconds.
Cover the bowl and let sit at room temperature until the surface is dotted with bubbles and the dough is more than doubled in size, 12 to 18 hours.
When the first rise is complete, generously dust a work surface with flour. Use a bowl scraper or rubber spatula to scrape the dough out of the bowl in one piece.
Using lightly floured hands or a bowl scraper or spatula, lift the edges of the dough in toward the center. Nudge and tuck in the edges of the dough to make it round.
Place a tea towel on your work surface and generously dust it with wheat bran, cornmeal or flour. Gently place the dough on the towel, seam side down. If the dough is tacky, dust the top lightly with wheat bran, cornmeal or flour.
Fold the ends of the tea towel loosely over the dough to cover it and place it in a warm, draft-free spot to rise for 1 to 2 hours. The dough is ready when it is almost doubled. If you gently poke it with your finger, it should hold the impression. If it springs back, let it rise for another 15 minutes.
Half an hour before the end of the second rise, heat the oven to 475 degrees, with a rack in the lower third. Place a covered 41⁄2- to 51⁄2-quart heavy pot in the center of the rack.
Using pot holders, carefully remove the heated pot from the oven and uncover it. Unfold the tea towel and quickly but gently invert the dough into the pot, seam side up. Use caution; the pot will be very hot. Cover the pot and bake for 30 minutes.
Remove the lid and continue baking until the bread is a deep chestnut color, but not burnt, about 15 to 30 minutes more.
Use a heatproof spatula or pot holders to gently lift the bread out of the pot and place it on a rack to cool thoroughly.