In the large bowl stir together the flour, yeast, and salt. Add water and stir until blended. The dough won't look very pretty; it will be shaggy and sticky. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough rest for 12 to 18 hours at warm room temperature, about 70 degrees. You don't want the dough to get too warm since this is supposed to be a long, slow rise.
Check the surface of the dough; it should be dotted with bubbles. Lightly flour your work surface and turn the dough out on it. Sprinkle a little more flour on the top of the dough and fold it over on itself once or twice. Cover it loosely with plastic wrap and let it rest about 15 minutes.
Lightly flour your hands. Gently and quickly shape the dough into a ball. Dust the shallow pan with flour, cornmeal, or wheat bran, and then lay the dough in the pan. Cover with plastic wrap and allow it to sit for 2 hours.
About 30 minutes before the dough is ready, preheat your oven to 450 or 500° F (the higher the temperature, the better for baking). Put the heavy covered pot in the oven as it heats. When dough is ready, carefully remove pot from oven. Turn the dough over into pot, seam side up. It doesn't have to look pretty, so don't worry about the seam showing. Cover with the lid and bake for 30 minutes, then remove the lid and bake another 15 to 30 minutes, until loaf is browned and sounds hollow when tapped. Remove from the oven and cool completely on a rack. The bread doesn't cut well while warm, so resist the urge to dive into it.
Total Time: About 1½ hours plus 14 to 20 hours’ rising