Thursday, October 17, 2013

That Darn Dutch-Oven Bread That's All Over Pinterest... And What to Do With It

You've seen her many times. Crackling golden perfection nesting inside a fancy-pants Dutch oven.  She looks effortless, timeless, and unaware of how radiant she is. If she were a human she'd be this girl:
I bet she goes home and makes cupcakes and eats only one. Pssh!. Source
In actuality, she's a loaf of gorgeously unkempt artisan bread.

Pretty darn impressive, right? Well, everyone and their mailman has been making this and posting it over the past several months, so, even though I'm a bread novice, I thought I'd take a whack at it. And, look how it turned out! It really makes you look like you know your stuff!

Before I give you the recipe, I will say this: People talk about how easy this bread is, and it really is true. HOWEVER, it's not like dumping a bunch of ingredients into a bread machine and pushing "Start." The first time you do it it's going to feel a bit awkward. Maybe the second time as well. It's not complicated; it may just be different than what you've done before. But once you're used to it, it'll become second-nature. You'll come to understand what you're doing and why, and that dough will look as natural in your hands as that girl's coffee does in hers. Another thing: The timing is particular, so make sure you read through the whole thing before beginning. That way you'll know that you should start this either wicked early in the morning or sometime in the mid-late evening. But do make this bread. It is has the perfect crunchy-on-the-outside-slightly-chewy-on-the-inside texture, wonderfully natural flavor, versatility, is easily adaptable, and very inexpensive.

Here's the recipe I stole and adapted.
Perfect Artisan Bread
from the recipe by Jim Lahey at Sullivan St Bakery,
adapted slightly per suggestions from The Clever Carrot

Yield: 1 extra-large loaf

Two medium mixing bowls
6 to 8 quart pot with lid (Pyrex glass, Le Creuset cast iron, or ceramic)
Plastic wrap
Parchment paper

6 cups (860g) flour
3 cups (690g or 24oz) water (the temperature of a baby's bath)
1/2 teaspoon (2g) yeast
2 1/2 teaspoons (16g) salt
olive oil (for coating)
extra flour and cornmeal (for dusting)

Mix all of the dry ingredients in a medium bowl. Add water and incorporate by hand for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Lightly coat the inside of a second medium bowl with olive oil and place the dough in the bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough rest 12 hours at room temperature (approx. 65-72°F).
  Remove the dough from the bowl, fold dough in half, and then fold it again. Let it rest for 15 minutes in the bowl. Generously flour the parchment paper and place the dough on top. Shape the dough into a ball by tucking the sides underneath itself, and place (seam side down) onto the paper. Cover loosely with oiled plastic wrap and let rise 1-2 hours at room temperature, until more than doubled in size. (Speed up the process by leaving it under the light of your microwave with the door slightly ajar.)
With 45 minutes left in your rising time, preheat oven to 450°F. Place the pot in the oven at least 30 minutes prior to baking to preheat. Once the dough has more than doubled in volume, remove the pot from the oven and invert the dough into the pot seam side up. Cover with the lid and bake 30 minutes Then remove the lid and bake 15-25 minutes uncovered, until the loaf is nicely browned.

Now for what to do with it... Recipes to come including Thick Stovetop Garlic Toast and my BLT Buffet!

Hint: This would make a great Edible Gift!


  1. Yay!!!!! This looks so good Janna!!! Gorgeous photos too :)

    1. Ha! You found it! Good snooping! Thank you for making it look so delectable on your blog so that I'd feel motivated to try it!