Homemade bread is always a mystery to me. It's all yeast, flour, and water, but it never ceases to amaze me how altering the ratios can change the bread so much. This crust is crusty, but it yields to the tooth, and is easily torn. It may be my new favorite go to bread!
This makes 4 loaves.
Simple Crusty Bread
from the New York Times from the Artisan Bread in 5 minutes a Day folks
1 1/2 tablespoons yeast
1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
6 1/2 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour, more for dusting dough (17.5 ounces)
In a large bowl or plastic container, mix yeast and salt into 3 cups lukewarm water -slightly above body temperature. Stir in flour, mixing until there are no dry patches. Dough will be quite loose. Cover, but not with an airtight lid. Let dough rise at room temperature 2 hours (or up to 5 hours).
Bake at this point or refrigerate, covered, for as long as two weeks. When ready to bake, sprinkle a little flour on dough and cut off a grapefruit-size piece with serrated knife. Turn dough in hands to lightly stretch surface, creating a rounded top and a lumpy bottom, although this can be tough given how loose the dough if- you might want to olive oil your hands. Put dough on pizza peel sprinkled with cornmeal; let rest 40 minutes. Repeat with remaining dough or refrigerate it.
Place broiler pan on bottom of oven. Place baking stone on middle rack and turn oven to 450 degrees; heat stone at that temperature for 20 minutes.
Dust dough with flour, slash top with serrated or very sharp knife two to three times. Slide onto stone. Pour one cup hot water into broiler pan and shut oven quickly to trap the ensuing steam. Bake until well browned, about 25-30 minutes. Cool completely.