There is an entire book dedicated to this bread baking method, titled Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. The title is misleading in that it takes way longer than 5 minutes to make the bread from start to finish, but the actual put-together time is what the 5 minutes represents. And, there is no kneading involved! There is still the required rising time, two hours covered initially, then 40-minutes on a dusted pizza stone. After that, it's 30 minutes in the oven and another 10-15 minutes of resting time. One recipe of this bread is enough to make four, yes four, loaves! If you don't need to make four loaves at once, you simply pop the dough in the fridge and dig out a grapefruit-size chunk when you're ready to make another loaf. Even cold bread dough right out of the fridge is ready to pop in the oven in about an hour. It doesn't rise as high as normal homemade bread, until it starts to bake. So don't fuss over how much the bread rises on the counter. Just time it for 45-60 minutes before putting in the oven and you should be good to go!
The first two times I made this bread, I did not put water in the oven to create the steam. I followed another online suggestion and covered the loaf with a stainless steel bowl (you can also use an aluminum lasagna pan) for the first 15 minutes to create the steam. It yielded a perfect crust. The third time, I tried the water method and my pizza stone broke completely in half! The fourth time, I had no pizza stone, so I used a cookie sheet and the water underneath, and it was not nearly as good as with the pizza stone. I don't know if putting the water dish in with the pizza stone caused it to break or if it was just a coincidence, but having done it both ways, I can definitely attest to the pizza stone method as the best one for this bread. This bread recipe is so easy, and so good. If you like homemade bread, you really must give it a try.
Simple Crusty Bread
Adapted from “Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day,” by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoë François (Thomas Dunne Books, 2007)
1 1/2 tablespoons yeast
1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
6 1/2 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour, more for dusting dough
1. In a large bowl or plastic container, mix yeast and salt into 3 cups lukewarm water (about 100 degrees). Stir in flour, mixing until there are no dry patches. Dough will be quite loose. Cover, but not with an airtight lid. Let dough rise at room temperature 2 hours (or up to 5 hours).
2. Bake at this point or refrigerate, covered, for as long as two weeks. When ready to bake, sprinkle a little flour on dough and cut off a grapefruit-size piece with serrated knife. Turn dough in hands to lightly stretch surface, creating a rounded top and a lumpy bottom. Put dough on pizza peel sprinkled with cornmeal; let rest 40 minutes. Repeat with remaining dough or refrigerate it.
3. Fill broiler pan with a couple of inches of water and place on bottom rack of oven. Place baking stone on middle rack and turn oven to 450 degrees; heat stone at that temperature for 20 minutes.
4. Dust dough with flour, slash top with serrated or very sharp knife three times. Slide onto stone. Pour one cup hot water into broiler pan and shut oven quickly to trap steam. Bake until well browned, about 30 minutes. Cool completely.
Yield: 4 loaves.