Saturday, February 26, 2011

Dutch Oven Bread

I am very excited about a lot of the things I cook. But I'll say it: I was the MOST excited about this loaf!

I love to make bread and bread-like things. Flat breads, dinner rolls, loaves, sweet things... whatevs! After tooling around with various recipes and talking to other bread making friends, I learned that the really good stuff comes from using a dutch oven (a cast iron cooking pot with a lid) to cook your bread.

Dutch ovens keep in the moisture of the dough while cooking, creating a loaf with a golden, crispy crust and the soft, moist inside. And, as far as I have read, the "no knead" method is the most preferred for dutch ovens.
"No knead" is exactly what it sounds like. Many breads are kneaded for 7-15 minutes to properly mix the ingredients and to kickstart the yeast. Kneading is definitely a learned skill and is fairly sensitive to outside input like adding too much flour and temperature (of both your hands and the room). But with the no knead approach, the mixed dough sits for 6+ hours (preferably over night), slowly rising and fermenting, while I sleep soundly or go about my daily business. After a few more steps and barely 5 minutes of total dough handling, the loaf is in the oven!

I have not created my own recipe for no knead bread and suggest you search the internet for "no knead bread recipe" (there are many, and they are all very similar) if you have a dutch oven and want to make bread that tastes as good as the loaf you get at your local bakery when you want something fancy. My hopeful next step: dutch oven kalamata olive bread!

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