In a 5-quart container, mix yeast, water, and salt. Add the flour, then use a spoon or stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment to mix until uniform.
Cover (not airtight) and allow to rise at room temperature for about 2 hours.
The dough can be shaped and baked the day it’s mixed or refrigerated in a lidded container (not airtight) for up to 14 days. The dough is easier to work with after 3 hours of refrigeration.
Sprinkle the surface of the dough with flour. Cut the dough in half (creates approx. 2-pound pieces). Cover the remaining dough and refrigerate for baking another loaf within 14 days.
Sprinkling the piece of dough with more flour to prevent sticking, shape a smooth ball with your hands by gently stretching the surface of the dough around to the bottom, rotating as you go. Shaping should take no more than 20–40 seconds.
Place dough on a large piece of parchment paper and allow to rest for 60 minutes. Loaf may not seem to rise much during this time.
Preheat The Dutchess near the center of the oven at 475 degrees F, for at least 20 minutes.
When the dough has rested for 60 minutes, dust the top with flour and use a serrated knife to slash a half-inch-deep cross into the dough.
Carefully lower the dough into the preheated Dutchess, using the parchment as a sling. Replace the lid and return to the oven.
Bake for 20 minutes, until the loaf has risen and is set. Remove the lid and continue to bake until the crust is deep brown in color, about 15-20 minutes more.
Remove the loaf from The Dutchess and peel off parchment paper. Allow to cool on a rack completely before eating.
Reprinted with permission from The New Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day (ArtisanBreadIn5.com) by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoë François.