So, this was in the times a little bit ago and has since been duplicated by what seems like ALL foodie bloggers. In fact, I feel a little behind the times having only tried it recently. It is everything it says it's going to be... hearty and crusty on the outside and impeccably light, airy and moist on the inside. I really cannot wait to make this with varying fillers (nuts, raisins, veggies, herbs, etc) and for a life-time.
I know this is time consuming, but take a little time to plan your meal and you will not regret taking the initial time!!!
3 C bread flour (plus flour for dusting)
1/4 tsp instant yeast
1 1/4 salt
Combine the ingredients with 1 5/8 C warm water and let the bread rest in a warm area for 18 hours. Once it has risen, punch it down and let it rest on a floured surface, covered with plastic wrap for 15 minutes.
Next, form the dough into a ball and place on a cotton kitchen towel that is coated with flour. Coat the top of the loaf with flour and let rest again in a warm place for two hours.
During the last 30 minutes, preheat the oven to 450 degrees and put a 6 quart heavy pan (dutch oven, cast iron, pyrex) in the oven as well. Once the 2 hours are over, transfer the bread - seem side up - to the pot and cook, covered, for 30 minutes. Remove the cover and cook for another 15 - 20 minutes or until the bread is golden.
Let the bread rest for at least 5 mins before you cut into it.