I love the smell of fresh baked bread, just out of the oven...
A few years ago, I read Jim Lahey's book called "My Bread". It changed the way I made bread-I rarely make bread any other way. It's easy, and produces a loaf of bread that looks artisan-just like you'd buy at an artisan bakery.
No Knead Bread
Makes one loaf
3 1/2 cups of bread flour
1/4 tsp yeast
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 1/2-1 3/4 cups water
Mix all the ingredients together in a large bowl until thouroughly combined. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set aside for 12-16 hours. I know, sounds crazy, but the bread ferments somewhat sitting this long, giving it a fabulous flavor. That's the reason so little yeast is needed. You can mix it up in the evening after dinner and come back to it the next evening (or morning, it's very forgiving).
When you are ready to finish your loaf of bread, dust your countertop with more bread flour. Scrape the bread dough out onto the floured surface using a bench scraper or bowl scraper. Turn the bread dough over a few times (the bread dough will be very loose and seem too wet but it'll be fine). You want to incorporate more flour into the dough but do not need to knead it. Once the bread dough seems a little more firm from "pushing" it around the flour on your counter, shape it into whatever shape you'd like-an oval or round shape or even a long loaf**. Place the bread dough onto the middle of a floured tea towel (do NOT use a terry towel, you will have lint in your bread), loosely fold the ends of the towel over the loaf you've shaped, and let it rise for an hour, hour and a half.
While the dough is rising, set a dutch oven with a lid, in your cold oven. Turn on the oven and set the temperature to 450 degrees F, so that the oven and the dutch oven pot reach temperature at the same time. The reasoning behind this method is that it gives you the same effect of an artisan oven by baking your bread in "an oven within an oven". No wood burning oven needed. Sounds kind of crazy, but trust me, it works! Really well!!
Once your bread has doubled in size after the second rise, take your dutch oven out of the oven (be REALLY careful, it will be burning hot!), take off the lid (using a hot pad), carefully pick up your bread dough in the tea towel and roll it into the hot dutch oven. Place the lid back on the dutch oven and place the dutch oven back into your 450 degree F oven (still using your hot pads!!). Bake for 30 minutes, then remove the lid from the dutch oven. Bake it for another 15-30 minutes, depending on how brown you like your bread. After that time, take the dutch oven out of the oven and remove the beautiful bread loaf from the dutch oven. Let the bread cool on a wire rack. Once it's cooled (really-let it cool completely before you slice it). Then slice, slather with butter (or your own choice of topping) and enjoy! SO worth it!
**If you decide you want to make a long loaf that looks like french bread, you'll have to bake it on a pizza stone or cookie sheet. If you use a cookie sheet do not place the cookie sheet in the oven to warm when you turn on the oven. If using a pizza stone, heat it in the oven so it heats as the oven heats. Roll the bread dough onto the cookie sheet, place it in the oven, and bake for 30-45 minutes, again, it depends on how brown you like your bread to be.