Ihave been tinkering with bread for weeks! I want to make a crusty, chewy, beautiful, french loaf of bread. I have tried recipes that were literally a 2 week process. I have measured flour, I have weighed flour, I have used starters, I have risen and risen and risen lots of dough. I've done the whole "steam oven" by spraying the stove down with water, putting a pan of water in the stove. This time, I tried something I have never read on any cooking websites or blog. I got this from my Aunt who brought an amazing loaf of bread to my grandma's 87th birthday party. Drum roll please . . . . . . wait for it . . . . . . . .
She cooked her bread in a lidded dutch oven! It is genius! No creating steam, the dutch oven does it all for you! Now the recipe I used wasn't my Aunts because I didn't have her phone number and I was too lazy to call my Grandma to get the number, so Leslie, if you are reading this, post your recipe in the comment section!
I however used an incredibly simple recipe that was just prefect.
1 1/2 T yeast
1 T salt
1 T sugar
3 C warm water
6 C bread flour
Now here is the easy part. Start with the yeast, salt and warm water. Add the flour. Stir with a wooden spoon till combined, cover with plastic wrap and let raise until double. That's right, no kneading! Now the original recipe I read said 6 1/2 c flour but I always seem to be a heavy measurer for whatever reason, so I went with 6 cups. The dough is fairly sticky, so when it comes time to shape, uses lots of flour on your hands, dust some on the dough and on the counter. Give the dough a couple rounds of kneading before you shape it into a ball. Recipe will make two balls. Put one in the fridge and let the other loaf get a head start on the raising. pull it out after about 30 minutes.
Let it raise on a big piece of parchment paper. Now, every cooking recipe I have read says you slash the top of the raised loaf with a knife before putting it in the oven. I have never once been able to do this without completely deflating it. So I always slash the dough in whatever pattern you want before it begins to rise.
Before your dough is risen enough to bake, begin preheating your dutch oven. You can use a camping dutch oven, or if you have a fancy pant Le Creueset you can use that, but make sure . Preheat the oven with the dutch oven inside to 450 degrees and let it heat for about 15 minutes before you add the loaf.
Carefully remove the lid (it should be stinkin' hot) and pick up the loaf by the parchment and drop it into the dutch oven very carefully. Replace the lid.
Bake for 25 minutes, remove the lid and bake for 15 more minutes till it us golden brown. You will feel like a real artisan baker after trying this method. I do!
nan's extra note: I have a new pot I cook my bread in, jealous?