This bread is not only easy, it's crusty and delicious! All you need is some parchment paper and a Dutch oven, and time. The bread is made with just a small amount of yeast and rises over a period of 12 to 18 hours. Just mix by hand and let the yeast do all of the work. Once you make this bread once or twice, you'll do it from memory.
This is an excellent bread for sandwiches, especially grilled sandwiches, and it makes a fabulous bread to serve with pasta or a bowl of stew or soup.
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Rising Time: 15 hours
Total Time: 15 hours, 15 minutes
Yield: Makes 1 Loaf, 1 1/2 Pounds
- 15 ounces bread flour, or all-purpose, about 3 cups using dip and sweep method*
- 1 1/2 cups water, room temperature, 12 ounces
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
- 1/4 teaspoon instant yeast
Put all ingredients in a large bowl and stir with a wooden spoon or by hand until you have a soft, ragged looking dough. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it stand at room temperature for 12 to 18 hours. I've let it go for 24 hours and it was fine.
Flour a piece of parchment paper** and your hands. Coax the dough out of the bowl and onto the floured parchment paper. With floured hands, fold the dough over on itself about 4 times to form a round loaf. Position it on the floured parchment seam-side down. Sprinkle with flour and put a lightweight kitchen towel over the loaf. Let it rise for another 2 hours.
Position the oven rack in the center of the oven. Place a heavy Dutch oven*** -- about 4 to 6 quarts in size -- in the oven.Do not include the lid when preheating. Preheat the oven to 500° F.
Carefully remove the hot Dutch oven from the oven and place it on a metal rack. Reduce the oven temperature to 425° F. Lifting it by the ends of the parchment paper, put the dough, parchment paper and all, in the hot Dutch oven. Place the lid on the pot and put it back in the oven.
Bake for 30 minutes with the lid on. Remove the lid and bake for about 20 minutes longer. The bread should register at least 200° F on an instant read thermometer inserted in the center.
Remove the bread and place it on a rack to cool before slicing.
* I always weigh ingredients, but if that isn't possible, try to measure the flour and water as accurately as possible. The dough should be quite soft and a little shaggy looking, unlike the typical yeast dough.
** I recommend parchment paper for all kinds of baking, but if you don't have it, you can still make this bread. Generously flour a plain cotton kitchen towel (not terrycloth, it will stick). Place the dough round on the towel, flour the top, and cover with the ends of the same towel or cover with another towel. After the 2 hour rise, flip it over into the hot Dutch oven.
*** I used an enamel coated cast iron Dutch oven, but a large oven safe pot with lid would work. There's no need to grease the pot.
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This hearty and delicious bread is perfect for chicken or turkey sandwiches, and it makes fabulous toast. I love the bread as it is, but the zest of an orange could be added to the dough.
Shape these rolls as pan rolls or make cloverleaf shapes. Because of the wetness of the dough, a stand mixer makes preparation easier, but they can be kneaded with a portable mixer with dough hook attachment.