I drove all the way to Ohio to learn how to make this beautiful loaf of bread. Well, as you know, gentle reader, that’s not the reason I drove to Ohio. But I’m happy I learned about it while I was there. 🙂
My daughter-in-law, Sonia, months ago, raved about a new bread recipe: a very simple artisan bread that she baked in her Dutch oven. It seems that the Dutch oven (with the lid in place) was the perfect hot and steamy setting to make this gorgeous bread with the amazing crunchy crackly crust, and the dense and chewy interior.
That crust, Gentle Readers, that crust . . . is what causes artisan bread makers everywhere to toss and turn nights, as they dream about it. It’s the reason they buy new fancy ovens, in hopes of obtaining it. That crust is what artisan bread bakers scroll through chat groups and bread forums, looking for hints on how, precisely, to get it! (Speaking from experience here!) It’s difficult to obtain in home kitchens, for some reason, with home ovens. That crust is what sets serious artisan bread bakers apart from the wanna-be hacks. And, gentle reader. You can make this kind of bread–with the superlative crunchy crust–at home, with only one bit of special equipment:
A cast iron Dutch oven. You can use a pretty enameled one like this one:
or you can use one like this:
I bought myself a pretty enameled one last year, after wanting one for years and years. Look at me and my bad self, buying myself something so pretty and useful! And now I’d like an black cast iron one, too, just because I like cooking and baking in seasoned cast iron pans so much. I think I’m going to have room in my new pantry for two Dutch ovens. They will get along just fine in there. 🙂
It blows me away that Amazon.com has free shipping on these pans—they are so heavy!
The only other thing you need to make this bread, is this recipe. (Thanks, Sonia, for sharing it, and for the baker chick blog, where Sonia found a similar recipe, to begin with). And what a bonus: it’s easy-easy-easy-peasy.
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup whole wheat flour
- 1½ cups lukewarm water
- 1-2 tsp sea salt
- ½-1 tsp yeast
- In a large bowl, stir together the flours, salt and yeast.
- Add the water and stir together with a wooden spoon, until mixture resembles a shaggy dough.
- Cover dough with plastic wrap and let sit in room temperature for 8-18 hours. Dough will bubble up and rise. (Note: mine only sat at room temperature for two hours and it turned out great.)
- When dough is ready, preheat oven to 450 F.
- Turn the dough onto a well-floured surface, and with floured hands form the dough into a ball. Cover with the plastic wrap and let the dough rest.
- While dough is resting, put your Dutch oven into the oven as it preheats, for at least 30 minutes.
- Carefully remove the Dutch oven from your oven, removing the lid very carefully.
- Slash the loaf, and carefully place it into the Dutch oven.
- (If your Dutch oven isn't enameled inside, place a square of parchment paper in the bottom of it, to prevent sticking.)
- Replace the cover, put Dutch oven back into the oven, and bake for 30 minutes, covered.
- Remove the cover and bake for an additional 15 minutes uncovered.
- Bread will be golden, crusty and delicious!
- Pull out the softened butter, baby!
A note about timing: with the really long rest-and-rise period for this dough, you could conceivably stir it together in the morning and let it sit all day long while you are at work, or going about your business, and then pop it into the oven to have with dinner. Your life will be better because of this. I promise.
Hey you, come back tomorrow because I have a feeling I’m going to have some happy news that I can share with you then . . . 😉
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