TOOLS & INGREDIENTS
Total time start to finish: 2 hours 45 minutes
- Dutch Oven: I use a very old cast iron dutch oven but any dutch oven will do. Warning: Le Creuset plastic knobs will melt so unscrew or replace with a metal knob!
- Large container or bowl with a lid and exhaust hole so the bread can grow and breathe IT'S ALIVE (Container I use)
- Flour suggestions: King Arthur/Whole Foods/Trader Joe's all purpose flour or bread flour
- Salt (I use a coarse salt but any kind will work)
- 105 degree temp water (warmish hot from the tap but not burning hot...you don’t want to kill the yeast)
- 1.5 T yeast
- 1.5 T salt
- 6.5 cups flour
- 3 cups warm water
READ ME FIRST 30 minutes before you bake your bread put your empty dutch oven with lid in the oven and preheat to 450 degrees. You are essentially making an oven within an oven by preheating the pot.
In the 5 gallon container mix yeast & salt with warm water. Let the warm mix sit for a few minutes
Slowly mix in the 6.5 cups of flour (If you are using different kinds of flour together, i.e. whole wheat and white, be sure to mix them up first; and if you are using whole wheat, add a bit more water)
Once dough is mixed, put the lid on with the air hole opened
Let dough rise for two hours or more (the dough should almost fill the container)
After two hours coat a cutting board, silpat mat or flat cleanable surface with cornmeal or flour depending on your taste
There will be enough dough for two normal size boules or three smaller boules. Coat your hands in olive oil. Scoop out 1/2 or 1/3 of the dough, shape into a ball the size of a very large grapefruit. Stretch it out on all sides then fold it in on itself (like a parachute) so it's back into a ball. Now place it on your chosen floured surface and cover it with a nice layer of flour (the gluten cloak). With both hands turn and shape the ball (like you are screwing on a lid) till it is nice and round.
Slash the top of the bread with an X (or whatever you like)
Carefully take the preheated (and extremely hot) pot from the oven. Put your loaf inside the pot, stick the lid on and return the pot to the hot oven. Set the timer for 30 minutes
After 30 minutes take the lid off and return to oven for 15 minutes (don't forget to set the timer for 15 minutes) with the lid off
Remove from oven and let bread sit for at least 15 minutes on a cooling rack so the loaf has airflow on all sides
Enjoy your warm home-made bread. I love slathering butter or olive oil on my fresh warm bread
You can refrigerate the dough left in the bin up to two weeks. The longer you leave the dough, the more it will sour--hence sourdough. The dough is much easier to work when cold so if you find it difficult to make a ball you can refrigerate the dough first. If you are using dough from the refrigerator, make the ball and let it warm up for at least 1/2 hour before baking.
This bread recipe is inspired by a combination of the NYT Jim Lahey recipe and "Artisan Bread In Five Minutes A Day"
"Artisan Bread in Five Minutes A Day" a great book