Dutch Oven Bread
I thought this had been posted by someone already, but I don't see it, so I pulled it from my file. It really works, and it's really good!
DUTCH OVEN BREAD
Apparently when you bake bread in a covered dutch oven, it "steams" inside the pot and therefore yields the kind of crust and texture we are all looking for. If you open up the lid halfway through, you'll be stunned at how it had risen and how delicious it looked and smelled.
This is a no-knead bread recipe and is intended to be a kind of loose, easy dough, with a lot of bubbles.
Ingredients and Method:
1 package active dry yeast
1 1/2 cups warm water
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3 cups bread flour or all-purpose flour and a bit more for dusting the bread after rising.
Dissolve the yeast in the warm water in a bowl or mixer. Add the flour and salt (in that order) and mix thoroughly. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let rest on a counter at room temperature at least six hours and preferably, overnight. (This allows the enzymes to continue to work to develop a nice flavor to the dough) It'll be loose and bubble up, that's ok.
Dust a cutting board with some flour and scrape the dough onto it. Sprinkle a bit of flour over the top as it will be very sticky. Don't knead, just fold the dough over onto itself a couple of times, and shape into a ball. If the dough is too loose, just knead in 1/4 cup of flour. Repeat as necessary until the dough is the consistency you would like. Shape into a ball by pulling around the dough edges and folding underneath. Place on the counter on a piece of parchment paper and cover with a towel and let rise for another 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
When you are ready to bake the bread, preheat the dutch oven in the oven at 450 degrees. Carefully remove the dutch oven, take off the top, and using the parchment paper, lift up the dough ball (towel removed, of course, heh heh, but leave the parchment paper under the dough) and gently drop it into the dutch oven. Use a knife to slash 3 slits in the dough, diagonally. Cover and place back in oven.
Bake covered for 20 minutes, then remove the lid and continue baking for 15 minutes* until dough is browned. Remove from oven and cool for one hour before cutting.
*I didn't let it brown for the full 15 minutes at the end – maybe about 11 minutes. As I always do with bread, I rubbed shortening (or use margarine) on the hot crust with wax paper, and draped a towel over the loaf while it was cooling. I've done that since I was a kid as it keeps the crust from being too hard. If you really like the hard crust, you can skip that step.
Val (a/k/a Greywolf)
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