Friday, April 12, 2013

Artisan Bread

Have you jumped on this bandwagon yet?  I've read about baking bread in a Dutch oven for a couple of months now, but didn't take the few minutes to actually make it.  Until the other night.  I finally decided to mix it up and give it a try.  It raises for 12-18 hours so, mix it up before dinner and bake it after breakfast.  Your whole house will smell heavenly!  There is no kneading involved, so just mix, raise, shape, and bake, then you end up with a loaf of bread that looks like you've just stopped by a bakery. 
When I pulled my first loaf out of the oven, the Hubs and I got close to smell it and heard the crust crackling away.  Waiting for it to cool was the hardest part.  Both of us were ready to just tear into it.  When we did slice it up, it didn't last very long.  So, last night we mixed up two more loaves.  I can't wait to experiment even more with this easy recipe.
Dutch Oven Bread
makes one 1 1/2 lb loaf
adapted from From Dahlias to Doxies

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp yeast
1 1/2 cups water
any add-ins that you choose (I'll list the one's we've tried or want to try below)

In a large bowl, stir together flour, salt, and yeast.  Add water and mix until combined.  If you are adding flavors to your loaf, fold them in now.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set aside to let it raise for 12-18 hours.

After the 12-18 hours, place your dutch oven with lid in the oven and preheat your oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.   Heat your dutch oven for 30 minutes (double check your the info that came with your dutch oven and make sure it can be heated empty.  I have one that can and one that cannot). Meanwhile, dump your dough out onto a heavily floured surface (you can also dump it on a heavily floured cotton towel or piece of parchment to make it easier to transfer to dutch oven), shape it into a ball then cover with plastic wrap or another cotton towel until the pot is ready.  Once the pot is hot, remove the lid, and drop the dough inside.  Do not grease the pot!  Replace the lid and bake it for 30 minutes.  Don't peek, just leave the lid on and enjoy the wonderful smells wafting through your house.  After the 30 minutes remove the lid, bake for another 15 minutes.  Remove the bread from the dutch oven and set on a rack to cool.

The first loaf we made we just followed the instructions, the second we added chopped kalamata olives, and the third we turned into a rye loaf that is to die for!  Here's what we did, and what we plan to do too.

Kalamata Olive Bread add-ins:
1/4-1/3 cup chopped kalamata olives

Rye Bread add-ins:
replace the 3 cups of All-purpose flour with 2 cups all-purpose, and 3/4 cup whole wheat, 1/4 cup rye flour
2 tsp caraway seeds (I "roughed up" half of them in my mortar and pestle to release extra flavor)

White Chocolate Pecan:
Add 1/2 cup chopped pecans and 1/2 cup white chocolate chips

Dark Chocolate Cherry Bread
Add 1/2 cup semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips and 1/2 cup chopped dried cherries

The possibilities are endless, let your creativity run wild with this one!

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