This basic recipe calls for only four ingredients and requires no kneading, but does take about 18 hours, so start it the day before you want it. If you have kids at home, get them involved measuring, stirring, or scoring the top. Once you have the basics down, mix things up a bit. Use a combination of flours -- rye, whole wheat -- add some oatmeal, or herbs, fruit and seeds (my favourite is rosemary and cranberry). Be aware that changing the ingredients may affect the dough, so be prepared to adjust the flour as necessary so that you can keep the high moisture content, but not have it so sticky you can't work with it.
This bread has a lovely crispy crust, chewy texture and delicious flavour.
Scrape the dough onto a well floured counter. Dust with a bit more flour and work the dough a little bit, shaping it into a ball. Don't knead it -- you don't want to pop all those gorgeous bubbles. Place on a parchment paper (I like to sprinkle mine with a bit of semolina flour or cornmeal). Dust the top with a bit of flour, cover with a tea towel or clean cloth and let it rest for about 2 hours. If you're using all white flour, the dough will rise more quickly than if you're using whole wheat or rye.
About a half hour BEFORE you want to bake (so about 1 1/2 hours after shaping), place your dutch oven (I use 10" x 5" cast iron pot - see photo below) in your oven and preheat to 450 degrees F. If you don't have a cast iron pot, you can use any other dutch oven (ceramic lined, CorningWare, Le Crueset) but just be sure that the pot can handle the very hot oven when it's empty.
Score the top of the loaf (get creative!!) with a sharp knife and carefully transfer the loaf into the hot pot. Cover and bake for 20 minutes. Remove the lid and bake for another 15-20 minutes.