I spent years messing around trying to come up with the ultimate French-style, crisp-crusted bread, and many times came within bragging distance. But with this recipe closely adapted from Paula Wolfert’s Country-Style Bread in The Cooking of South-West France – I’ve found it! It is the simplest of breads: flour, water, salt, yeast. It’s good, chewy, coarse, basic: more European than American in taste and texture. Made without fat, sugar or milk, it has a very crisp crust, made even crisper by an in-oven spritzing with water. Thanks to a starter made a day or two ahead of time, it has the faintest tang of sourness. The length of kneading time may seem daunting; so if you do not have a sturdy mixer, have a friend handy…..