Submitted by Gramps. I've just tried this out and if you have the time, this is an unbelievable recipe. It was the best bread I have ever had. A true keeper.
I first made bread, successfully, at Cordon Bleu in Paris in 1988. I have been trying (very infrequently) ever since to duplicate that wonderful, crusty French bread.
At last I have succeeded and it is super easy. It takes one to two days to complete, but the outcome is fantastic and it is, truly, quite simple.
3 cups unbleached flour (I prefer King Arthur)
1 and 1/2 teaspoons salt
¼ teaspoon fresh, dry yeast
Stir together dry ingredients
7 oz room temp water
3 oz light beer (like Bud)
1 tbs white vinegar
Stir all together, cover with Saran and let sit 8 to 18 hours. Jenny here: I found the dough to be very, very wet. Don't fret; this is the way it is supposed to be.
Knead only 10 to 15 times and place in a skillet on lightly oiled parchment paper. Cover with the same Saran wrap and allow to rise for 2 hours
Bake (Here is the secret):
Preheat oven to 500 degrees with heavy lidded deep pan inside (LaCruset)
Slash top of loaf with razor blade and coat top lightly with oil
Lift dough out of skillet with parchment paper and put into hot pan.
Put lid on pan tightly and return to oven but turn oven down to 425
Bake for 30 minutes. Remove pan from oven, remove lid
Return to oven for 20 to 30 minutes (instant read thermometer should read 210 degrees)
Lift bread out by parchment paper and put on rack to cool. Slip away paper
Allow to cool for about 2 hours before cutting.
Whole wheat? Substitute 1 cup whole wheat flour for 1 cup white
Olive? Reduce salt a bit and add about ¾ cup chopped olives
Cheese? Add a lot of grated Parmesan to dry ingredients
Coarse? Substitute about 2/3 cup stone ground corn meal for white flour