Bread Recipe

Someone asked for the recipe I used to make the artisan-style Dutch oven bread I posted a few days ago.  This loaf is a crusty, chewy, large air-hole artisan-style bread that is great with soups or for hearty sandwiches.

There are many recipes out there and I’m not sure I’m the qualified baker to speak with any authority.  However, ask and you shall receive as someone once said so here it is:

  • 3 cups flour (I use about 3/4 c. whole wheat and 2 1/4 bread or all-purpose flour)
  • 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 cups lukewarm water
  1. In a large non-reactive bowl mix the dry ingredients thoroughly and add the water.  Mix by hand until just combined.  The dough should be a little on the wet and sticky side, so add a few drops extra water as needed.  Cover and let stand about 18 hours (a little less is okay).
  2. Turn out the dough onto a clean, tightly woven cotton towel that has been dusted with flour or cornmeal and form into a rough, wide, circular shape.  Pull the right side across to the left then the left to the right; turn 90 degrees and do this again as if you were wrapping the dough up on itself.
  3. Dust the top of the loaf with flour or cornmeal and flip over so the seam side is down and pull the towel over the loaf.  Let stand 15 minutes to one half hour.
  4. Preheat the oven to 500 F (260 C) with the Dutch oven inside (I put the lid on the top shelf to let air circulate inside while preheating).  Let the oven heat a little beyond when it claims to be hot enough to insure the cast iron is ready.
  5. Place the dough seam side up in the center of the Dutch oven, cover, and close the oven door.  The seam allows the loaf to expand and serves in much the same way a slit on top of the bread would in a traditional loaf.
  6. Cook for 30 minutes then uncover.  If the loaf is not a rich golden brown, continue to cook with the lid off for 5 -10 minutes (ovens vary).
  7. Turn out the loaf onto a rack or a bread board (if you don’t use a rack let it cool upside down for the first 15 minutes or more).  Cool thoroughly then eat.

This recipe has worked well for me in many variations over the years and can be modified in many ways.  I have a multi-grain seed bread I make more often than this that is a bit more complicated and maybe I’ll share it when I get time.

I found this video which may help visualize the process.  It’s nearly the same as I relayed above with a slightly different size loaf.

 

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Bread

A morning loaf

I am very happy with returning to Dutch oven bread.  It’s easy and fairly controllable to cook in and holds the moisture well.  The only down side is that, with it sealed, it is difficult to sneak a peek inside.

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Hot out of the oven.

This is inside a 12 inch Dutch oven.  I have no idea how old it is but it was old when I got it 30 years ago.  It is a lifetime investment but a bit heavy to transport.  Another tool that makes me happy.

Broke into for a late lunch. Perfect with a hot bowl of soup.

Bread – Some Thoughts from Cobbett

Every woman, high or low, ought to know how to make bread. If she do not, she is unworthy of trust and confidence; and, indeed, a mere burden upon the community.  –William Cobbett

Today this should probably read “Every homemaker” instead of “Every woman” but, as Cobbett composed this treatise in 1821, he assumed that the home and cooking were the domain of the women and the men were to labor outside the home.

Bread

I have a mixed relationship with bread.  I love to make it and eat it, and have for many years, yet I don’t eat a lot of it as it seems to easily fatten me up and doesn’t always sit well in my gut; the same reasons I rarely drink beer these days.  However, I am very aware that bread, in one form or another, has been a staple in the Western World for millennia and should not be overlooked so I occasionally dive in and start making bread regularly again.  I can’t stand the modern garbage marketed as “bread” as it barely resembles the greatness of a real, leavened or fermented loaf.

By the early 19th century, big business was already encouraging families to buy bread instead of bake at home and there can be some sense in this, especially in the city (fuel cost for cooking, the efficiency of oven sharing, etc.).  Cobbett thought this purchase instead of make mentality was one of the many atrocities that kept laboring families unnecessarily poor.  Foolish practices that kept the poor from ever improving their lot was a major theme of his life and we can learn from this.

I have included his treatise on bread here.  He also spreads himself pretty well as to how he despises the potato as Ireland’s lazy root (before the famine).

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Despite the bad press and nay-saying of diet fanatics in recent decades, real bread still finds its way onto my table.  What do you think?

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