Whenever I make this bread, it comes out of the dutch oven literally crackling! It is amazing! I make it in my Dome Lid Dutch Oven. (By the way, check out my post about seasoning and caring for cast iron cookware HERE!)
The lid holds in the steam that comes off of the bread as it bakes, giving it a crispy crust – but the bread stays tender on the inside!
The best part about making this bread is that I don’t even have to get out my mixer! I just stir it up with a wooden spoon, cover it and let it sit overnight. At first, I thought the dough looked too soft and sticky to bake into a nice round loaf of bread, but after it was baked, it came out pretty and round!
Don’t be alarmed. This is exactly what it’s supposed to look like! (This is what bakers call “slack dough.” It’s very loose and sticky!)
Here’s all you need to make 2 loaves.
(If you only need one loaf, just cut this recipe in half.)
1 1/4 t. yeast
1 1/2 t. salt
6 1/2 c. flour
3 c. hot water (between 105° and 110°)
Just stir it all up in a big bowl with a wooden spoon, just until there are no lumps of dry flour. Leave it sticky. Cover and let rise for between 2 – 12 hours.
Notice how the dough is very loose and sticky? On a heavily floured board or counter top, pour half of the dough out of the bowl. The other half can be saved for several days in the refrigerator for the other loaf.
Resist the urge to knead the dough, instead just pull up the sides and form it into a ball.
(It’s okay if it’s totally coated with flour!)
Place the ball of dough in a greased Dutch oven that has been sprinkled with a little bit of cornmeal on the bottom. Cover with the lid and allow to rest for about 2 hours.
After it has risen, if desired, you can gently cut a 1/2″ deep slash or an “x” across the top using a really sharp knife. (If the knife is dull, it will pull and tug at the dough and may cause it to deflate!)
During the last 20 minutes of the rising time, put the oven rack on the lowest level and preheat the oven to 475° (no, that’s not typo) and leave the lid on the dutch oven. Bake the loaf for 30 minutes covered. After 30 minutes, remove the lid and bake an additional 10 minutes.
Using oven mitts, carefully remove the loaf from the dutch oven and allow it to cool on a wire rack. Don’t leave it to cool in the dutch oven or it will continue baking – that cast iron really retains the heat! (At this point, when the loaf was sitting on my wire cooling rack, I could hear it making “snap, crackle and popping” noises.)
It’s amazing how easy it is to make, but so impressive!
***One caution: If you are using an enamel coated dutch oven, make sure it can handle the 475° heat. You wouldn’t want to damage the enamel coating!