Monday, December 2, 2013

Cast Iron Artisan Bread

This bread could not be easier. I saw this recipe so many times on Pinterest and other venues and decided it was time for me to purchase a dutch oven. I got mine on amazon for $35. It works great! I am so glad that I got a dutch oven and gave this recipe a try. It is a staple in our home. So much better than the store bought stuff (and I do love the store bought stuff). It takes a lot of time to make but practically no effort. For almost the entire time, you do NOTHING! I will also note, I have made this bread with a significantly less rising time (about 6 hours the first time) and it is still just as good. Not as "hole-y" but tasty nonetheless. So if you don't have a ton of time, still give this a try. Even if you have enough time, try it both ways so you can see how great it is no matter what. Seriously, you really can't screw this recipe up.

Adapted from: Frugal Living

Ingredients
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

Directions
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.

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