Thankfully, I came across a super-easy recipe for homemade artisan bread. It was simple – five ingredients, 18 hours, and a baking dish with a lid that can handle 450 degrees. Easy as, well, bread.
3 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon yeast
1 1/2 cups water
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, salt and yeast. Add warm water and stir to combine. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit in oven for up to 18 hours (though I have, at times, let it sit for 24 hours with no harm done).
When ready to bake, place baking dish and lid in oven, and preheat to 450 degrees. Dump dough onto a well floured surface. (To avoid a big mess, I usually dump it onto a dinner plate). Quickly shaped the dough into a round loaf, cover with plastic wrap, and let it rest for 30 minutes.
To bake, shake a little flour into the bottom of the baking dish (to make it easier to remove the artisan bread from the pan). Move the dough, as gracefully as possible, into the baking dish. Sprinkle a bit of sea salt on the top, throw a lid on it and put it in the oven. After thirty minutes, remove the lid and set the timer for another fifteen minutes. (At this point, I usually move the pan a little closer to the oven light, because it seems to help the bread brown a bit more).
After the artisan bread finishes baking, carefully remove it from the pan and let it cool for thirty minutes before slicing. (This never happens at our house – once the artisan bread is out of the oven the boys come running!).