There’s something about baking your own bread that makes you feel like your life is put together. Sure it may not be — it’s been days since you washed your hair, your house is a disaster, and you haven’t exercised in over a month because you got sick and then lazy — but you baked homemade bread. Bread. From scratch. And it turned out really good.
If you can bake bread, you can do anything. At least that’s my philosophy.
I found this recipe originally from Posie Gets Cozy and decided to try it Monday when I had nothing better to do than watch dough rise for 8 hours. (Naw, I kid, I let it rise in peace overnight. But I did over-check it periodically just to be sure it was doing its thing.) I’ve made bread before, but it’s always been the high-maintenance kind where you have to schedule feeding times every other day and once you finally get to baking it you have three other starters with new feeding schedules to take care of. Stressful!
This recipe, however, was pretty low key. Just three ingredients (four if you add a pinch of sugar, which I did) and although it does take a while from start to finish, I only spent maybe 30 minutes actually preparing it before it went in the oven. And it turned out delicious! The perfect crusty bread to munch on as a snack, toast with jam, or companion to any savory meal.
No-Knead Dutch Oven Bread
adapted from Mother Earth News
1/4 tsp active dry yeast
1 1/2 cups warm water
3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting (white, whole wheat or a combination)
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbsp sugar (optional)
Cornmeal or wheat bran for dusting
1. In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in water. Add the flour, salt and sugar, stirring until blended. The dough will be shaggy and sticky. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let the dough rest at least 8 hours, preferably 12 to 18, at warm room temperature, about 70 degrees. (I always stick my bowl in the microwave so it’s out of my way and a dry, warm spot.)
2. The dough is ready when its surface is dotted with bubbles. Lightly flour a work surface and place dough on it. Sprinkle it with a little more flour and fold it over on itself once or twice. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let it rest for about 15 minutes.
3. Using just enough flour to keep the dough from sticking to the work surface or to your fingers, gently shape it into a ball. Generously coat a clean dish towel with flour, wheat bran or cornmeal. Put the seam side of the dough down on the towel and dust with more flour, bran or cornmeal. Cover with another towel and let rise for about 1 to 2 hours. When it’s ready, the dough will have doubled in size and will not readily spring back when poked with a finger.
4. Once the dough is ready, heat oven to 475 degrees. Put a 6- to 8-quart heavy covered pot (cast iron, enamel, Pyrex or ceramic) in the oven as it heats. When the dough is ready, carefully remove the pot from the oven. Slide your hand under the towel and turn the dough over into the pot, seam side up. The dough will lose its shape a bit in the process, but that’s OK. Give the pan a firm shake or two to help distribute the dough evenly, but don’t worry if it’s not perfect; it will straighten out as it bakes.
5. Cover and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the lid and bake another 15 to 20 minutes, until the loaf is beautifully browned. Remove the bread from the Dutch oven and let it cool on a rack before slicing.