Dutch Oven Bread

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Makes one large loaf
Originally from February 2013 on my old blog
Sorry there’s no real picture for this one! I made this a long time ago, back when I didn’t take many pictures of my recipes.

This is the easiest bread you could make at home. I know the recipe’s length might say otherwise, but it really isn’t as much work as it seems. The dough can be made a day before it is baked: proceed up to the second rise, and instead of letting the dough rise at room temperature, refrigerate it overnight, and then remove from the fridge an hour before baking it.

This recipe can easily be doubled, tripled, whatever. It bakes right inside of your dutch oven or pasta pot (I actually find the pasta pot better). It’s the perfect simple bread: no tricks or gimmicks, no intricate shaping or mixing, just a good old fashioned loaf of white bread. Delicious, soft on the inside, and a bit chewy on the outside. I made it alongside lobster bisque, which I might post up here if I have the patience. The picture is not mine by the way, but that’s exactly how it ended up looking. I am horrible with my hands ans my food never comes out very pretty, but this recipe is impossible to mess up–it just looks nice and pretty without even trying.

Ingredients:

~4 cups all-purpose flour
~1 ½ cups flour
~1 teaspoon active dry yeast
~2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more for sprinkling
~Vegetable oil or vegetable oil spray
~Olive oil

By Mixer: Combine the flour, water, salt and yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. Mix on medium speed until dough is smooth and elastic, 5 to 10 minutes. You may need to stop and remove dough from dough hook, depending on the size of the bowl, if the dough isn’t developing thoroughly. When the dough looks smooth, cut off a piece and stretch it. If it stretches to the point of transparency, it’s mixed enough. If not, continue mixing until it will.

By Hand: If you’re used to improvising because of lack of materials, like me before I got my electric mixer, then this shouldn’t be that much of a problem. Just do what it tells you to do by mixer, but by hand. Yes, it takes some more work, but, it’s a artisan craft with a lot of love put into it.

For both Methods: Remove the dough from mixer and cover with pot lid or plastic wrap. Allow the dough to rise until it has doubled in size and doesn’t spring back when you push your finger into it, about 2 to 4 hours.

Turn the dough out onto a work surface and knead it to release the gas and redistribute the yeast. Shape it roughly into a ball, cover it with a towel, and let it stand 10 minutes or so to allow the gluten to relax.

Coat the bottom and sides of a Dutch Oven or any heavy, oven-proof pot that is 5 ½ quarts (5.2 liters) or larger, with vegetable oil. Put the dough in the center of the pot and put the lid on. Allow the dough to rise again, 30 to 60 minutes (less if it’s very hot and humid, more if it’s cold).

Preheat the oven to 450 F. Rub 1 tbsp olive oil, or more if you like, gently over the surface of the dough. Score the dough with a sharp knife or razor, making an X across the top, allowing the dough to expand freely. Sprinkle with salt, cover the pot with the lid, and place in the oven.

After 30 minutes, remove the lid and turn the temperature down to 375 F, and continue baking until the bread is nicely browned and cooked through. It should have an internal temperature of 200 F or so when done. Allow the bread to rest on a rack or on the counter if you don’t have a rack, which I don’t) before serving so that the interior finishes cooking.

Happy dining!!

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