I love making this bread. I found this recipe about a year ago inside the covers of a Williams-Sonoma catalog. I love this catalog. It is chock full of all sorts of kitchen gidgets and gadgets, and I savor every issue. I even take it to bed at night for some great bedtime reading. Every page is earmarked with my hearts desire, and maybe throughout the year I may purchase an item or two, but of course never at Williams-Sonoma. I can't afford that, but TJMaxx usually will have what I like. That leads me to my dutch oven. It is not just your regular pan, but a "Le Crueset" royal blue 5 1/2 qt. beauty. This pan is what was being advertised on the pages of the Williams-Sonoma catalog when I found this amazing recipe. The pan turns the bread making into magic. Now, I have since learned that you don't have to have a brilliantly colored $300 enameled pan, (but it sure does make it fun!) but a trusty, rusty black cast iron dutch oven that is hiding in your camping gear does the same trick. It just has to be a cast iron pot with a lid. After you make this bread you will feel like a champ. No one makes bread like this at home, but now you do. I know this may sound like a funny post from a girl whose husband bakes bread for a living, but we don't make this kind of bread. This is the kind I would imagine you picking up at your little local European bakery. The crust is crisp and crunchy and chewy and the inside has lots of airy holes and tastes delish. Even my Macey's class ladies loved this recipe. It really is quick and easy, (not counting the 12-24 hours of waiting) and you will become a bread rock star tonight. You have to be a little organized in the fact that you have to decide you're going to make it a day before you eat it. Once you get that down, you'll make it all the time. Let me know if you make it and if you love it is as much as I do. If you have a magic pan use it, (I know Lindi and Hollie do) but if not, use the rusty trusty one in your camping gear. You're going to love this bread!!
I Can't Believe I Made This Bread, Bread
3 c. all purpose flour
1/4 t. (yep only 1/4 t.) yeast
1 3/4 t. salt
1 5/8 c. water (not hot and not cold. Just water)
Add in's of choice: I used 3/4 c. dried cranberries and the zest of 1 lemon today, but you can use raisins, cinnamon, any cheese, garlic, herbs, spices, Montreal Steak Seasoning is great. Let you imagination take you where ever you want to go. Sweet or savory, you decide.
In a large bowl combine all the ingredients together and stir until blended. Only a minute. It doesn't look pretty, but don't worry. Cover with plastic wrap and let dough sit for 12-24 hours. It will rise a little and start to look really wet and bubbly. This is good. I have used the dough as early as 8 hours and as late as 36 hour later. It always works. This is a very forgiving recipe. After the long rest, turn dough out onto a floured surface. Lightly turn the dough onto itself a few times. Don't knead this, your more or less just roughly forming the dough. Let it sit for 20 mins. and rest. In the mean time place your dutch oven in a 450'F. oven while it is preheating. The pan needs to stay in the hot oven about 20 mins. Take the hot pan out of the oven and place the dough ball in the pan. You don't need any grease, or butter for the pan. The dough will kind of wrinkle up and look terrible, but trust me it will look amazing in about an hour. With a sharp knife cut an X into the top of your dough. This will help it "tear" in a real rustic way. Place the lid on top of the dutch oven and place the pan back in the oven. Bake for 30 mins. at 450'F. with the lid on. Take the lid off and bake another 20 mins. The crust should brown nicely and when you tap the top of the bread it should sound hollow. Remove the bread from the pan and let cool. Yeilds 1- 1 1/2 lb loaf