This bread is easy and delicious. Mix the ingredients, leave them quietly for two days and the dough is ready! I make regularly and although affected by the temperature and humidity of the environment, the result never disappointed us.
Adapted from artisanbreadinfive.com/ —mookies
In a 5 quart bowl or lidded Food Storage Container, dump in the water and add the yeast and salt. Dump in the flour all at once and stir with a wooden spoon. Stir it until all of the flour is incorporated into the dough, it will be a wet rough dough. Put the lid on the container, but do not snap it shut. You want the gases from the yeast to escape. Allow the dough to sit at room temperature for about 2 hours to rise. When you first mix the dough it will not occupy much of the container. But, after the initial 2 hour rise it will pretty much fill it. DO NOT PUNCH DOWN THE DOUGH! Just let it settle by itself.
The dough can be used right after the 2 hour rise, but it is much easier to handle when it is chilled. It is intended for refrigeration and use over the next two weeks, the flavor will deepen over that time, developing sourdough characteristics. The next day when you pull the dough out of the refrigerator you will notice that it has collapsed and this is totally normal. It will never rise up again in the container.
Dust the surface of the dough with a little flour, just enough to prevent it from sticking to your hands when you reach in to pull a piece out. You should notice that the dough has a lot of stretch once it has rested. (If your dough breaks off instead of stretching is probably too dry and you can just add a few tablespoons of water and let it sit until the dough absorbs the additional water.)
Cut off a 1-pound piece of dough using kitchen shears and form it into a ball. For instructions on how to form the ball watch one of our videos. Place the ball on a sheet of parchment paper.
Let the dough rest for at least 40 minutes, (letting it go 60 or 90 minutes will give you a more open hole structure in the interior of the loaf.) You will notice that the loaf does not rise much during this rest, in fact it may just spread sideways, this is normal for this dough.
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees with a Baking Stone on the center rack, with a metal broiler tray on the bottom (never use a glass vessel for this), which will be used to produce steam. Cut the loaf with 1/4-inch slashes using a serrated knife. Slide the loaf into the oven onto the preheated stone and add a cup of hot water to the broiler tray. Bake the bread for 30-35 minutes or until a deep brown color.
If you used parchment paper you will want to remove it after about 20-25 minutes to crisp up the bottom crust. Continue baking the loaf directly on the stone for the last 5-10 minutes. Allow the loaf to cool on a rack until it is room temperature. If you cut into a loaf before it is cooled you will have a tough crust and a gummy interior. If you have any leftover bread just let it sit, uncovered on the cutting board or counter with the cut side down. If you cover a bread that has a crust it will get soggy.