This is a simple, tasty, no labour white bread done in the artisan style.
In a large bowl, place the flour, salt, and yeast. *See Note re. yeast
Pour in warm water and stir until you have incorporated all the flour into the dough. Don't over stir or overwork the dough.
Cover with plastic wrap, leaving a loose corner so the gases can be released. Cover with a tea towel.
Place in oven with light on. Let rise for 8 - 18 hours.
Lightly dust a smooth counter or bread board with all purpose flour. Pour the dough onto the flour. With a little flour on your hands, to avoid dough sticking, form the dough into a boule shape.
Loosely wrap the loaf with plastic wrap and go have a smoke or a coffee for half an hour or so. There will not be a whole lot of action during this rise. The dough may even spread out a bit. Don't worry. This is normal.
After about 30 minutes, place loaf, topside down in a rising basket, or, as I do, place a smooth fabric dish towel in a metal Callander, dust it with white flour, and place the loaf in the towel and fold the towel over the loaf.
Let sit for at least 45 minutes. I like to let it sit for up to 90 minutes. After 60 to 90 minutes you will get those nice holes in the crumb. About 40 minutes before you are ready to turn out the dough, preheat your oven to as hot as it can go. I do 500ºF. Put your dutch oven in the oven and let it preheat.
Turn the loaf back out onto a sheet of parchment paper lightly dusted with cornmeal. Score the bread with whichever pattern you desire. Remove the dutch oven from the oven. Remove the lid and place the loaf, parchment and all, into the dutch oven. Replace the lid and place on the middle rack in the oven.
Bake with the lid on the dutch oven for 30 minutes. Remove the lid and continue to bake for 15-30 minutes, depending on how crisp you want your crust. I usually go about 15-18 minutes. Use a meat thermometer to check your centre temperature. White bread should be between 200 and 210ºF.
When done, remove from oven and dutch oven and place on a wire rack to cool. RESIST THE TEMPTATION TO SLICE THE BREAD for at least 2 hours. Slicing too early will render the bottom crust tough and the bread itself doughy.
Yeast: If using instant or fast rise yeast, combine the yeast with the flour and salt. If using Active Dry yeast, place the yeast in the warm water, stir and let it rest about ten minutes before adding it to the dry ingredients. If you choose to use sourdough starter, use ¼ cup.
If you want a firmer more rustic loaf of bread, use bread flour. I don't buy bread flour, but I have 100% Vital Wheat gluten which I add to the all purpose flour at a rate of about 1.5% per volume to create a higher protein flour.