This is, really, the simplest loaf of bread to bake. The only catch? You need a dutch oven that can stand being put in a 450 degree oven. Cooking the bread in a dutch oven traps the moisture, giving the crust that lovely look. This has been my weekly bread all winter. Minimal fuss with a wonderful result.
3 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp yeast
1-1/2 cups warm (110 degree) water.
Stir together the dry ingredients, add the water and stir until just combined. Cover the bowl and let the dough rise, 12-24 hours. When you’re ready to bake, preheat oven to 450 degrees. Place the dutch oven in the oven to preheat as well. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and shape into a ball, dusting your hands with flour (the dough will be sticky. Place the dough on a sheet of parchment paper, dust the top with flour, and allow to rest while the oven heats. When the oven is hot, remove the dutch oven, place the bread and parchment in the dutch oven, put the lid on and cook for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, remove the lid (I usually just remove the bread and place it on a cookie sheet) and return to the oven to brown the crust, another 15 minutes. Remove to a cooling rack and allow to cool