This recipe will give you a chance to use the cold fermentation technique and using steam while baking. The recipe itself is very simple with only flour, salt, yeast and water for ingredients. The result is a wonderful crusty loaf.
Classic French Bread
This recipe is taken from Artisan Breads Every Day by Peter Reinhart.
Makes 2 large or 4 small loaves
5 1/3 cup bread flour
2 tsp salt
2 tsp yeast
2 cup warm water
Combine all ingredients. Mix for about 1 minute. Rest for 5 minutes. Continue to mix (by hand or with kneading hook) for about 3 minutes. Add more flour if needed. Dough should be smooth and tacky but not sticky. Place dough in a greased bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and immediately refrigerate overnight or up to 4 days.
On baking day, remove dough about 2 hours before baking. Gently divide and shape dough into desired shape. Avoid pressing out the air bubbles, as much as possible. You may shape into round, oval or long baguette loaves. Mist the top of the loaves with oil and cover loosely with plastic wrap. Allow to rise for 1 1/2 hours.
Preheat oven to as high as it can go. (Mine will het to 550.) Just before baking, score dough with knife or razor. Transfer dough to oven. Place water in steam pan or cover with roasting pan lid. Lower oven to 425 degrees.
Bake for 12 minutes, remove lid if using, rotate pan and bake for 15 minutes or longer. Baking time will vary depending on size and shape of loaf. Crust should be a deep golden brown and sound hollow when thumped.
I often cut off part of the dough to bake immediately and put the remainder in the fridge. The dough will raise for about an hour and then be shaped and allowed to rise until double again before baking.
Another option is to allow the dough to rise after mixing. Then divide and shape the dough before placing in the fridge. One way I've done this successfully is shaping the dough into a round loaf and placing it seam side up in a very well oiled bowl and covering. To bake, I preheated the oven, turned the dough out of the bowl onto my baking sheet, scored the top, and baked it while still cold. The result was a extra lovely golden crust.
I have also successfully substituted whole grain flour to this recipe using 3 cups bread flour and 2 cups whole wheat flour. You may also add 1 or 2 T of vital gluten.