Eliminating the danger in Artisan Breads
I made the basic bread from Jim Lahey's My Bread without the danger--I'm just too chicken to try to throw my dough into a screaming hot pot.
After the 18 hour bulk fermentation, I did the single stretch and fold called for (impressive that this single stretch and fold had such a dramatic effect on the dough!) and simply placed my boule in the base of my clay baker (at room temperature) for its final proofing.
I did heat the lid as I preheat the oven. Since I didn't have to deal with overturning slack dough into a screaming hot pot, I scored the dough before baking (can't find my lame--grrrrr--had to use kitchen scissors!)
I followed the directions from that point on, leaving the dough covered in the oven for 30 minutes and then removing the lid until it was done. It had a lovely crust (not as rustic looking, since I didn't need to use bran or other agents to prevent that side from sticking during the final proofing), great oven spring, and wonderfully irregular crumb.
I didn't even get to taste it--I brought it to work and it was gone before I had a chance to grab a piece, so I guess it was good.
I think this would work equally well for any covered vessel. My theory is that preheating the pot is not necessary and I'm curious about how this works for people with heavy ceramic dutch ovens and the like.