This is a go to weekend favorite in our house. It literally lasts maybe 60 seconds and is always a battle to keep the greedy little #witzendweeones hands from getting into it before it is done crackling and resting hot out of the oven.
It is probably one of the simplest recipes to search for on Pinterest and for good reason. It is the EASIEST thing you will ever make and it is pretty much no fail. The basic process is courtesy of Jim Lahey of Sullivan Street Bakery – a whiz if you ask me. The simplicity of this recipe is where its beauty lies. The slow rise and then steam cooked in a Dutch Oven creates pure magic. (hee hee … Dutch Oven.. life with boys lol)
Makes 1 Large Loaf which in our house feeds 2 carb loving adults and 2 always hungry growing boys.
3 cups All Purpose Flour (plus more for gently shaping)
2 teaspoons Kosher Salt or Sea Salt
1 teaspoon Active dry yeast
1½ cups Warm Water (baby bathtub temp.)
In a large bowl (I actually use my Kitchen Aid) whisk the flour, salt and yeast until combined.
Slowly pour in the warm water stir with a (wooden) spoon until a fully incorporated wet dough forms – it is supposed to be sloppy and sticky. You are doing the right thing if you see it like that.
* If you are using a Kitchen Aid like I do – then I usually put on the dough hook and let it run at medium speed for 1 minute to insure that the ingredients are fully incorporated. This is totally optional though- the same results can happen with a good old fashioned bowl, spoon and elbow grease.
I then transfer the dough (again- it is super sticky – this is GOOD) to a very lightly oiled bowl for rising. Cover the rising bowl tightly with plastic wrap and leave in a nice warm place for 9-12 hours (I have pushed it to about 15 hrs with no difference in end result).
Here is where the magic happens.
Pull out your trusty 5.5 – 6 Qt. qt. Dutch Oven – I use my Blue Le Crueset because I use it for pretty much EVERYTHING.
Put the Dutch Oven into the oven and set the oven to Preheat to 450 degrees Farenheit .
While the oven(s) is heating lightly flour a smooth work surface. My granite countertop bears the brunt of this burden nicely.
Turn out the sticky dough onto the floured work surface and sprinkle with more flour. Gently shape the dough into a ball by turning it with your hands. I usually add a little more flour throughout this process. In no time you should have formed dough ball with a few seams tucked into the underside.
Cover your dough ball with a clean kitchen towel and let rest until the oven is finished heating up. (I usually let mine sit for about 20 – 30 minutes) .
Carefully remove the Dutch Oven (Hello…OVEN MITTS… PLEASE!) and set the lid to the side.
Being mindful that that enameled baby is lava hot and will send you to the ER if you aren’t careful gently “plop” your dough ball into the hot Dutch Oven with the seam side down.
Replace the lid on the Dutch oven and return the pot to the oven.
Bake for 30 minutes with the lid on and then (carefully!) remove the lid and let the bread bake for another 10 – 15 minutes. This last bit of uncovered time is what will turn the crust of this bread into golden brown perfection.
When the top is picture perfect brown remove the pot from the oven (you Know … with your Mitts) and gently turn out the loaf to a wire cooling rack. My favorite part of this whole process happens right in these next few minutes. Your house will smell AMAZING and the bread as it is resting it makes the most amazing crackling sound.
Try as hard as you can to NOT cut into this baby for about 15 minutes so the interior crumb can rest. You wont be disappointed – this loaf has awesome air pockets that when slathered with butter make the best breakfast EVAH.
Use a serrated bread knife to cut big fatty slices and smother in butter or Jam (if that’s your “jam”).
WARNING: this loaf will disappear in no time… it is best piping hot but keep it covered with a kitchen towel and toast the next day for equally as awesome results.