Monday, November 26, 2012

Easy Crusty Bread in a Dutch Oven


Easy Crusty Bread

Did you notice that mention of jogging in my last blog post? It's true. I jogged a mile one day. Then, the next day I jogged two miles. It's been about three weeks since that day and I haven't jogged since. I swear, it's like unless I do it everyday, I don't do it. And I don't do anything everyday, except brush my teeth, which I do anywhere from two to four times a day because I'm a psycho. I thrive on not knowing what I'm doing. Not having planned workouts. Just letting them happen organically. The only problem with this is if your serious about getting into shape, I mean really really, serious, you can't leave workouts to when you feel like it. It requires discipline and consistency. I should know. I've spent many an hour thinking about this and lamenting. It's not that I'm lazy (I can be crazy disciplined) it's just that I'm not "athletic" even though I am coordinated. I like walking, zumba class, barr class, hiking, and the like, but I do not like being uncomfortable for very long. I don't mind pushing myself or sweating a bit, and I do challenge myself on occasion, but don't make my heart beat out of my chest day after day. That feels horrible. Doesn't it sound horrible? Your heart beating OUT OF your chest.

step 1: mix all of your ingredients together until a shaggy dough forms and cover with plastic wrap overnight
Easy Crusty Bread

The next day, your dough will look like this:
Easy Crusty Bread


And so, I suspect I'll spend my life sporadically working out and moving enough to keep my heart healthy, but all the while baking things like bread. It sounds like a nice gig, yes? I'm not complaining. I've made peace with this, which haunts me sometimes because I know I could achieve the whole lean muscle body thing. Do I want to? Not really, which is where the lamenting comes in. I want to want to be better, but I don't mostly because I believe I'm not all that bad to begin with. Which I suppose is a good grace thing. I suppose it's healthy. But I know that won't keep my heart healthy. So I'll keep my walks and classes. But I'll also keep my bread.

Step 2: Turn your oven on and stick a dutch oven into it to heat up. Dump sticky dough out onto a heavily floured surface and form a ball
Easy Crusty Bread

Easy Crusty Bread

Seriously. I've never made bread like this at home. This is the kind of bread you buy at a specialty shop. Crusty, thick outside and soft pockets of pillowy but sturdy dough on the inside. Make this once and you won't be able to stop. It looks like a perfect sourdough boule, but this is not sourdough. Glad you brought up that point which goes nowhere, Krysta. Now, mind you, I've braided challah before, baked oatmeal sandwich bread, quick breads and focaccia but never thought I could get this kind of result in my home kitchen. I was literally shocked. Where has this bread been all my life?! Let your mind go wild with add in's. Kalamatta olive loaf? Yes please. Orange zest and cranberries? Kneed in some roasted garlic and extra salt? My mouth is watering.

Step 3: After the dutch oven has heated through, plop your dough ball inside. Place lid on and bake.
Easy Crusty Bread

Step 4: Remove lid and allow to bake again for extra browning
Easy Crusty Bread

After it's browned up. Do you see what you've made???
Easy Crusty Bread

And you all, this is the crazy part. This is the best bread I've ever made and it's also the easiest bread I've ever made. I have never even heard of this method before. You basically mix all the ingredients in a large bowl the night before. No rising of the yeast, no measuring temperatures of water. Just mix, cover and set aside at room temperature overnight. That's the clincher. You have to plan ahead. Oh, but it's worth it. The next day you'll just add whatever add-in's you'd like, or leave it plain. Kneed in a bit of flour, just so you can pick up the dough. Plop it into a already hot, heated dutch oven and bake. When you take the lid off, you'll be super impressed with yourself. And when you slice it and taste it, and slather with salted butter and a sprinkling of truffle salt, and drool a little, well, I don't even know what will happen because you are not me and I simply can't predict such things.

Easy Crusty Bread


Crusty Bread

3 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1 3/4 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon yeast
1 1/2 cups water

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, salt and yeast.  Add water and mix until a shaggy mixture forms. If you are adding additional ingredients like kalamata olives and roasted garlic, do it now and mix everything together before it rises.  Cover bowl with plastic wrap and set aside for 12 - 18 hours.  Overnight works great.  Heat oven to 450 degrees.  When the oven has reached 450 degrees place a cast iron pot with a lid in the oven and heat the pot for 30 minutes.  Meanwhile, pour dough onto a heavily floured surface and shape into a ball.  Cover with plastic wrap and let set while the pot is heating.  Remove hot pot from the oven and drop in the dough.  Cover and return to oven for 30 minutes.  After 30 minutes remove the lid and bake an additional 15 minutes.  Remove bread from oven and place on a cooling rack to cool. 

11 comments:

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  2. This is Jim Lahey's recipe and it's foolproof. You can also experiment with juices as the liquid. Caroline M.

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