The Dutch Oven Method for Great Bread Crust
There are a lot of books promoting the Dutch oven baking method. Getting a great crust requires the first part of the bake to happen in a very moist environment, and the lid of the Dutch oven keeps in the steam released from the hot dough to achieve this environment. Professional bakers have ovens with steam injection but the Dutch oven method is the simplest way in a home oven to get a professional looking crust for hearth-style loaves.
Preheat the Dutch oven in the oven for an hour at 500°F, place your proofed dough on parchment, score it and transfer the dough on the parchment into the pot and cover with the lid before returning it to the oven. Be careful! 500°F is hot. Turn the oven down to 475°F. Remove the lid after 20 minutes and continue baking until the bread is dark brown.
Surprisingly, you can get almost the same result by baking in a thin metal roasting pan (the black ones with white spots). If you use a roasting pan, set it on top of a preheated pizza stone in the oven to bake your bread. There is no need to preheat the roasting pan. Check out the books Tartine Bread, Flour Water Salt Yeast or Josey Baker Bread for more on getting started with this method.