Combine in a small bowl the water, salt, yeast, and sugar. Add the shortening and let proof. Sift the flour into a large bowl. Make a well in the center and gradually add liquid, stirring constantly. Stir with a wooden spoon until the dough starts to leave the sides of the bowl. Turn out and knead for 10 minutes. Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl and cover with a clean tea towel and let rise about 1 1/2 hours. Punch dough down and let rise again for 30 to 45 minutes. Punch down and let rest for 10 minutes. Turn the dough onto a floured board and roll into a 15" x 10" oblong. Roll up tightly toward you, beginning with the wide side. With a hand on each end, roll the loaf back and forth to taper the ends and lengthen the loaf. Place diagonally on a greased and cornmeal- sprinkled cookie sheet. Slash at 2" intervals and let rise uncovered for about 1 1/2 hours. Place in a 425 F oven. For the first 15 minutes, spray with a fine mist of water every four minutes. Reduce heat to 350 F and bake 20 minutes longer. The loaf should be golden brown and slide off the sheet easily.
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