6cupsbread flour (recommended) or all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface
1/2tspinstant or active-dry yeast
2 2/3cupscool water
In a large bowl combine the flour, yeast, and salt.
Add the water and stir until all the ingredients are well incorporated; the dough should be wet and sticky.
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap.
Let the dough rest 12-18 hours, or overnight, on the counter at room temperature. When the surface of the risen dough has darkened a little, smells yeasty, and is dotted with bubbles, it is ready.
Lightly flour your hands and work surface. Place dough onto your work surface and sprinkle with more flour. Fold the dough over on itself once or twice and, using floured fingers, tuck the dough underneath to form a rough ball.
Place a full sheet/large rectangle of parchment paper on a cotton towel and dust it with enough flour, cornmeal, or wheat bran to prevent the dough from sticking to the parchment paper as it rises; place dough seam side down on the parchment paper and dust with more flour, cornmeal, or wheat bran. Cover with a cotton towel.
Let the dough rise for about 2 hours until it has doubled in size.
After about 1 1/2 hours, preheat your oven to 425 degrees and place a 6-8 quart heavy bottomed pot, such as a cast-iron Dutch oven, in the oven as it heats with the cover on.
When the dough has fully risen, carefully remove the pot from oven. Unwrap the towel and parchment paper from around the dough and slide your hand under the bottom of the dough ball; flip the dough over into the pot, seam side up. Pull the parchment paper off, scraping any stuck dough into the pan. Shake pan once or twice if the dough looks unevenly distributed; it will straighten out as it bakes.
Cover and bake for 40 minutes. Uncover and continue baking for 10-15 more minutes, until the crust is a deep chestnut brown. The internal temperature of the bread should be around 200 degrees. You can check this with a meat thermometer if desired.
Remove the bread from the pot and let it cool completely on a wire rack before slicing.