I have always preferred artisan style breads to any other kind, and just recently have taken it on as a passion to learn to make them. As it turns out, it is ridiculously simple to do. I watched a number of videos on YouTube and learned lots of tricks.
I have had a sour dough starter going for a few years now, and have been using that in each batch, in lieu of yeast. The loaves come out crusty on the outside, and light and airy on the inside. The most difficult part is planning ahead, as the dough needs to set for about 12 to 18 hours on the counter, before baking.
I use 1/4 cup of starter, 2 teaspoons of salt, 3 cups of bread flour, and 1 1/2 cups of water. Just mix this in a bowl (very easy since it is a very soft dough), cover and set for 12 + hours. You can cut this time down to 6 or 8 hours but it won’t be as sour and light.
After the resting time turn the dough onto a floured board, and add just enough flour so that you can fold the dough into a very soft and pliable but flattish loaf. Place in a bowl lined with parchment paper. Cover and let rise till doubled – about 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
Place a dutch oven in a preheated 450 degree oven for a half hour. Pull the pan and gently set the parchment paper loaf inside, slice the surface lightly with a sharp knife, cover, and bake for 30 minutes. Take the lid off and bake another 8 to 15 minutes. Ovens vary, but you just want to get the top nice and brown.
Cool, cut and enjoy!