Timeless Dutch Oven Bread E.A.T #43

The past few weeks have been very surreal-real. There was a tornado in my neighborhood.  The Coronavirus is in every nook and corner of our beautiful world. Self quarantine is the new normal. If you are a food stylist or a photographer, a prop stylist….anything in the production of images for magazines, television commercials or social media, not to mention cookbooks, things have come to a screeching halt. For the first time in my adult life I have a lot of something I put a high value on…. time. Maybe weeks of time…or months of time. There is no “knowing” or “absolutes”. The circumstance of all this time is horrifying…but, there you have it…lots of time.

 I have saved quite a few recipes in a notebook to “make someday when I have the time”. The time is here and now, today. Variations on this bread recipe has been around for a while and can be found online from many sites such as The New York Times, Sweet Paul Magazine or Bake From Scratch.  I have made bread often over the years, but in no way am I a real bread baker. This recipe is so doable I made 5 loaves in 2 days with very little “active” time needed. I did a bit of tweaking to make this easy bread even easier. It’s delicious with a wonderful crust and nice texture inside.

All these loaves were baked in enamel cast-iron Dutch ovens using the same recipe.

Each loaf wonderfully different in all ways.

The loaf below I added lots of dried dill which made it the perfect sandwich bread.

Some loaves I dusted with cornmeal for added crispiness. All these loaves used the same basic 5 ingredient recipe with some variations. It was truly as easy as this.

Warm slice with a nice smear of soft butter and some marmalade.

Sweet friends please stay smart, healthy and kind. Keep in touch. Peace and Love.

I would love to hear from you about how you are spending time in these times.

Timeless Dutch Oven Bread

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Ingredients:

  • 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (or a mix of all purpose and whole wheat) + extra flour for working with dough and dusting
  • 1/2 teaspoon active dry yeast
  • 1 Tablespoon kosher salt
  • 2 1/4 cups slightly warm water
  • 1/4 cup plain yellow cornmeal, divided

Directions:

  1. Whisk together in a large bowl the flour, yeast and kosher salt. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and add in water stirring with your hand(s) to mix together. Dough will be somewhat wet and that is fine.
  2. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and set aside for at least 8 hrs, or  up to 24 hours, to rise at room temperature.
  3. Scrape dough out onto a floured work surface and pat out into a round shape. Fold four edges in toward the center and flip dough over onto a sheet of parchment paper dusted with a combination of flour and cornmeal so that the smooth side is up. Sprinkle with additional flour and cornmeal,  cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise for 2 hours at room temperature. I usually just do this on my kitchen counter top. The parchment paper makes it easy to place dough into the hot Dutch oven. I just lift with two opposite corners of the parchment and carefully drop into the hot pan before adding lid and putting into the oven.
  4. Place a 4 to 6 quart enamel cast-iron, or regular black cast-iron, Dutch oven in a cold oven. Turn the temperature to 450 degrees. Do this about 1 hour and 45 minutes into the 2 hour rising time.
  5. Quickly, using hot pads, remove Dutch oven from the oven and sit it on top of stove. Lift dough using edges of parchment and drop gently into the preheated pan. Cut a slash in the top of the dough from one side to the other. This allows the dough to rise and expand well. Cover pan with lid and put back into the oven.
  6. Bake for 30 minutes with lid on. Remove lid and bake another 15 or 20 minutes. I like our bread with some dark charring so sometime I leave it in in increment of 5 additional minutes until it reaches the proper charing.
  7. Lift cooked bread from hot pan with corners of parchment paper and place on a cooling rack. Cool bread totally before slicing if you can resist!

Notes: You can add other ingredients to the dry flour mix without changing the proportions of flour, salt, yeast or water, but add before water to dry mixture.

Add 1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons dill weed to the dry mix for a delicious sandwich bread.

Dried fruit or nuts can be added as well to the dry mixture right before adding the water.

Rosemary, black pepper, parmesan, etc…can also be mixed in for variations.

My variation on this bread is a combination of many of the recipes available on line.

Teresa Blackburn.        www.teresablackburnfoodstyling.com