Monday, December 2, 2013
Cast Iron Artisan Bread
Adapted from: Frugal Living
6 cups bread flour (recommended) or all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface
1/2 teaspoon instant or active-dry yeast
2 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 2/3 cup cool water
1. In a large bowl, combine the flour, yeast, and salt. Add the water and stir until all the ingredients are well incorporated; the dough should be wet and sticky (remember, wet dough leads to moist bread). Cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Let the dough rest 12-18 hours on the counter at room temperature. When the surface of the risen dough has darkened slightly, smells yeasty, and is dotted with bubbles, it is ready.
2. Lightly flour your hands and a work surface and sprinkle with more flour. Fold the dough over on itself once or twice and, using floured fingers, tuck the dough underneath to form a rough ball.
3. Generously dust a cotton towel with enough flour or cornmeal to prevent the dough from sticking to the towel as it rises; place dough seam side down on the towel (I usually place it on a flour dusted piece of parchment paper and then place the parchment paper on the towel to ensure that it does not stick) and let rise for about 2 more hours, until it has doubled in size.
4. After about 1 1/2 hours, preheat oven to 425 degrees. Place 6-8 quart heavy covered pot, such as a cast-iron dutch oven, in the oven as it heats up. When the dough has fully risen, carefully remove pot from oven. Remove top towel from dough and slide your hand under the bottom towel; flip the dough over into pot, seam side up. Shake ban once or twice if dough looks unevenly distributed; it will straighten out as it bakes (don't worry if it looks "ugly" or weirdly shaped. some of my weirdest looking dough balls, end up to be the most gorgeous loafs of bread).
5. Cover and bake for 40 minutes. Uncover and continue baking for 10-15 more minutes, until the crust is a deep chestnut brown. The internal temperature of the bread should be around 200 degrees. You can check with a meat thermometer, if desired.
6. Remove the bread from the pot and let it cool completely on a wire rack before slicing.