3 C all purpose or bread flour
1/4 tsp instant yeast
1 1/4 tsp salt
cornmeal or wheat bran as needed
In a lg bowl combine flour, yeast and salt. Add 1 5/8 c water. Stir until blended. Dough will be shaggy and sticky. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rest for 12-18 hours at room temp (70*).
Dough is ready when its surface is dotted with bubbles. Lightly flour a work surface and place dough on it. Sprinkle with a little more flour and fold it over on itself once or twice. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let sit 15 minutes.
Using just enough flour to keep dough from sticking to your fingers, gently and quickly shape dough into a ball. Generously coat a cotton towel (not terry cloth) with flour, cornmeal or wheat bran. Place dough seam side down onto towel. Sprinkle with more flour, cornmeal or wheat bran. Cover with another cotton towel. Let rise another 2 hours. Dough will more than double in size and will not readily spring back with poked with a finger.
At least half an hour before the dough is ready, heat oven to 450*. Put a 6-8 quart heavy covered pot (cast iron, enamel, Pyrex or ceramic) in the oven as it heats. When dough is ready carefully remove pot from oven. Slide you hand under towel and turn dough over into pot, seam side up. (it may look a mess, but that's okay). Shake pan once or twice if dough is unevenly distributed. Cover with lid and bake 30 minutes. Remove lid and bake another 15 to 30 minutes (until loaf is browned). Cool on a rack.