Fresh baked bread.
It’s one of those scents that warms you up and makes you think of home. There really is nothing better than coming home to the scent of fresh baked bread.
Luckily, it’s also something that is dead easy to make; without the need of a bread maker either. I used to own one of those huge machines. I got one as a wedding gift many years ago and I could count the total number of times I used it on one hand. It wasn’t that I didn’t like making bread, but the idea of having to lug it out of the storage room each time I felt like bread wasn’t worth the effort. So I stopped making it years ago.
Recently, however, I was talking to a colleague at work who mentioned that she would bake bread in a dutch oven. And on top of that, she didn’t have to spend the physical effort to knead it. She simply would dump the ingredients in a big bowl, mix it together with a spatula, let it rise overnight, throw it into a preheated dutch oven (or cast iron pot) and you’d get a gorgeous artisanal loaf fresh out of the oven in under an hour.
I was ecstatic. Could it be true? While she didn’t give me a recipe, I decided to research the idea and discovered a variety of dutch oven recipes online. I ended up modifying several recipes to form my own and I’m delighted to share it with you. I used this recipe to accompany all sorts of meals and was recently used for a bouillabaisse dish – as you can imagine, it went perfectly together! In fact, you can also throw in a few saffron threads where it calls for herbs or dried fruit! Absolutely delicious!
So yes, it really is true – you can make your own artisanal loaf that looks and tastes amazing. Every time. The exterior will be a golden, hard crust but inside you’ll find it soft and warm and airy – just like what you’d find at an artisanal bakery. If you have a small 3.5 quart dutch oven (any brand will do, but I love Creuset and Staub) that is made of cast iron, you’re set. If yours is larger, no worries – just double the recipe and you’re still good to go. The smaller the pot, the more your dough will rise up versus spreading flat. Even so, not a big deal – it will still taste amazing.
Try this out and let me know how yours turns out!
Dutch Oven Bread (No Knead Recipe)
3 ¼ cups of all purpose flour
2 tsp salt
¾ tsp active dry yeast
1 ¾ cups warm water
Optional: herbs such as rosemary, sage or thyme; dried fruits like cranberries, raisins or dates
- In a large bowl, mix the flour, salt, yeast together – add any herbs or dried fruits at this stage (optional).
- Add water and use a silicone spatula or spoon to mix until all ingredients are well incorporated. At this point, the dough should be fairly sticky. It’s okay if it more wet than dry. Scrape all the dough off the sides and incorporate into the sticky mess.
- Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave it on your counter overnight or up to 18 hours.
- Once ready, place your empty dutch oven/cast iron pot into the oven and preheat it to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.
- At 450 F, your pot is now ready to use. Take it out of the oven and remove the lid. Sprinkle flour on the bottom of the pot to prevent the loaf from sticking.
- Remove the plastic wrap from the bowl and sprinkle flour over the raw dough and over your hands. Remove the dough from the bowl with your hands and a silicone spatula. Drop it into the pot. Sprinkle a bit more flour on top of the dough.
- Cover the pot with the lid and place it back into the oven and bake for 30 minutes.
- Remove the lid and bake for another 20 minutes or until golden brown on top.
- Once done, turn the pot upside down so the bread can fall out. Let the bread cool completely before slicing.
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