My Favorite Recipes: Dutch Oven Bread

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Like so many other people I know I was afraid of recipes involving yeast for a long time.  It seemed too hard to figure out and too delicate to ever work properly.  Then years ago one of the kids I was a nanny for got a children’s cookbook for his birthday.  He went through all the recipes in the book and settled on pizza.  It used store-bought sauce, but homemade dough. Dough made with yeast.  I tried to convince him he would rather make the meatloaf recipe, but he was set on pizza.

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The bread dough after rising 8 hours.

It suddenly occurred to me that if this recipe is for kids it can’t be that hard.  Surprise it wasn’t.  You measure the yeast put it in a cup of warm water, let it sit a minute or two then mix it in with the flour.  Knead the dough together, let it sit and rise, then you’re ready to roll it out for pizza.  Ta-Da! It was delicious and so much easier to roll out than store-bought dough.  It was easy too. The extra time to let the dough rise requires a little more planning, but when I had time was well worth it.

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The dough is ready to bake in my heated dutch oven.
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Almost finished! Just bake for another 15 minutes.

After that I didn’t find yeast so frightening.  Skip forward a few years when I saw this recipe  in  my copy of Bust Magazine.  I make quick breads often, but never thought delicious crusty bread was really possible at home.  Baking the bread in a dutch oven gives it a nice crust and shape.  There are only four ingredients in the recipe: yeast, water, flour, and salt. Things I almost always have on hand in my pantry.  Usually I just make mine with a little salt sprinkled on top, but really anything could be added in. I love this recipe and am happy to share it today.  Let me know if you are inspired to make some fresh bread at your house.

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Ready to eat and still warm from the oven.

 

Dutch Oven Bread adapted from Bust Magazine

Ingredients:

  • 1 tsp. active dry yeast
  • 1 1/2 cups warm water
  • 3 cups flour (I use a 50/50 mix of bread flour and whole wheat, but all-purpose will do too)
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt

Night Before:

Pour the yeast into the warm water.  I use filtered water from the fridge microwaved on high about 90 seconds (give or take).  Let set a few minutes until the yeast gets foamy (even if it doesn’t that’s okay).

In a large bowl mix together the salt and flour.  Mix in the yeast/water mix.  This bread can be done without kneading and just mixed with a wooden spoon. I find that it gets hard to get all the flour mixed it and usually do the last bit of mixing by hand and then knead the dough for a bit. I will knead the dough on the counter for about 5-10 minutes until it has a nice round shape and springs back to the touch.

Then put the dough back in the large bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise for 8-12 hours (overnight).  I let my dough sit covered in the oven with the door slightly open and the light on.  Covered on top of the fridge is a good place too.

The Next Morning:

Preheat your oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.  After the oven is preheated then heat up the dutch oven (lid too) for 30 minutes.

Carefully remove the heated dutch oven and drop your risen bread dough in.    If you are doing any add-ins like dried fruit, nuts, herbs, knead those into the dough before dropping it in the heated pot.  Sprinkle any toppings on now (like coarse salt).

Bake covered for 30 minutes.  Then remove the cover and bake for an additional 15 minutes.

Carefully remove the dough and let cool on a baking rack for 30 minutes.

Slice and enjoy.

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