Thursday, November 21, 2013

Delicious Dutch Oven Bread

Think cold weather, hot soup, and fresh baked bread.  Gorgeous, crispy and delicious bread. This recipe was my first attempt at making bread, and it was a success!  It has become my go-to bread recipe.  I have baked two loaves, frozen one for later, and they thaw beautifully.  In addition, I have also experimented with wheat flour.  It turns out great each time!  My family loves it, especially my two year old who always asks for "mommy's bread".  You can enjoy this bread with one of my homemade jam or jelly recipes or with butter and local honey.  

Baking the dough in a cast iron dutch oven makes this beautiful round loaf.  You can also bake it in a classic loaf or round pan made from cast iron, enamel, or ceramic.
Here's the recipe:

No-Knead Crusty Bread

1/4 tsp active dry yeast
1 1/2 c warm water
3 c all purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1 1/2 tsp salt
Cornmeal, flour, or wheat bran for dusting

(You can use white, whole-wheat or a combination.  When I make a combination I use 1 c. wheat and 2 c. white flour.)

1.  In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in water.  Add the salt and flour, and stir until blended.  The dough will be sticky and shaggy.  Let the dough rest at least 8 hours in the bowl covered with plastic wrap.  It is preferable to let the dough rest for 12 to 18 hours at room temperature when possible.  The dough will be dotted with bubbles when it's ready.

2.  Lightly flour your work surface and place the dough on it.  Sprinkle a little more flour on the dough and fold it over on itself one or two times.  Place it back in the bowl, cover it loosely with plastic wrap, and let it rest for approximately 15 minutes.

3.  Use just enough flour to keep the dough from sticking to your work surface, and gently shape it into a ball.  Coat a clean dish towel with your choice of cornmeal, flour, or wheat bran.  Be generous when you coat the dish towel to avoid the dough sticking to the towel.  Place the dough seam side down onto the towel and dust with a little more, cornmeal, flour, or wheat bran.  Cover with another towel or, if the towel is large enough, bring up the two ends up over the dough.  Leaving enough room for the dough to double in size.  This should take 1 to 2 hours.

4.  Twenty minutes before the dough is ready, heat the oven to 475 degrees.  Place a covered 6 to 8 quart cast iron pot (enamel or ceramic round or loaf pan) in the over while it heats. Carefully remove the pot from the oven and remove the lid when the dough is ready.  Place your hand under the towel and turn the dough over into the pot with the seam side up.  Shake the pan once or twice to disburse the dough evenly.  It may not settle perfectly in the pot, but it will even out as it bakes.  

5.  Place the lid back on the pot and bake for 30 minutes.  Remove the lid and bake for another 15 minutes.  This will brown the loaf handsomely.  Remove the bread from the dutch oven and place on a cooling rack for at least 1 hour before slicing.  If you bake the bread in a pot or loaf pan that does not have a lid, bake for 30-35 minutes until nicely browned.   

This recipe was adapted from a recipe I found in Mother Earth News and taught me that I can bake bread, successfully, and that I can provide my family with tasty bread that doesn't have all the additives that store bought bread has.  I am one step closer to being self-sufficient when it comes to providing my family with wholesome food.

I hope that you enjoy this bread as much as my family does.  Happy baking!


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