Place the yeast in a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer and add the sugar and 1/2 cup water. The yeast should froth and bubble in five minutes, indicating it's alive.
Add the remaining water and 2 cups of flour. Mix, and then add the salt. Add 1 1/2 cups of flour and continue kneading for five minutes. You want the dough to be just slightly sticky but supple and smooth. If it sticks to the bottom of the bowl in a puddle, add more flour, just a tablespoon at a time, until you get the right consistency.
Shape the dough into a ball on the countertop. Lightly oil a bowl and place the dough in it, turning over once to coat the top of the dough with some oil. Cover with a kitchen towel or cling wrap and put aside in a warm place to rise for 45 minutes to an hour, or until it has doubled.
Once the dough has risen, dump it back on the counterop and knead it lightly to deflate for just a few seconds, then divide into two.
Form each half into a ball. Then, using your fist, punch each ball into a circle about six inches in diameter. Pick up the edge of the circle of dough close to you and start rolling until you form a cylinder. Press the seams in with your fingertips.
Using the palms of your hand, roll each cylinder into a long rope, about 10-12 inches in length.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or sprinkle it with cornmeal.
Place the two ropes side by side, with at least 4-5 inches between them, on the baking sheet. Sprinkle on some flour over the tops, using a sieve or a strainer.
Cover the loaves with a kitchen towel and set them aside to rise for 45 minutes to an hour or until they are very puffy and have doubled in size.
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. While the oven is heating up, use a steak knife or a very sharp blade to make three diagonal gashes on each loaf. Make clean cuts and don't saw the bread, or your loaves will deflate.
Just before you place the bread in the pan, spray the walls of the oven with water.
Place the baking sheet in the oven and bake 25-30 minutes until the loaves are golden brown.
Remove the loaves to a rack using mitts and wait until they are thoroughly cool before slicing and eating.