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Artisan bread in minutes
“The oakwood fire roared up past an open damper to heat the oven for the bread, which lay white and rising in the pans.”
East of Eden, John Steinbeck
I am taking classes in Baking and Pastry Arts at Monterey Peninsula College. It is so exciting to spend time learning more about baking in a classroom setting. I am ecstatic! Baking is our homework; can’t get any better than that! One of the first recipes we made in the yeasted bread class was Dutch Oven Bread. Our instructor, Chef Andre Adams, said his wife had gotten the recipe from a friend. Searching the web for the attribution for the recipe I can see I have most definitely missed out! This recipe has been circulating in the blogosphere for years, but I had not seen it. If you haven’t heard of this bread making technique, I highly recommend it. Jim Lahey of Sullivan Street Bakery was giving bread baking classes in New York City in 2006. Mark Bittman wrote an article for the New York Times about his method of easily making artisan bread using a Dutch oven to maintain heat and humidity in the home oven, mimicking a commercial bread oven. This recipe is the easiest bread recipe I have used. The resulting bread is nothing short of amazing—rustic with great taste and a lovely deep brown crust! Jim Lahey has a new book, My Pizza: The Easy No-Knead Way to Make Spectacular Pizza at Home, available March 20. Spectacular, yes, I’m sure!
A Dutch oven, either metal or ceramic, a mixing bowl and a sharp razor blade (yes, a razor blade to slash the top of the loaf) are the only equipment needed to make this bread. Other than those requirements this bread is deceptively easy. I mix the dough the night before and then the next day I have an irresistible bread that is reminiscent of a loaf of artisan sour dough bread. Beer and a splash of vinegar lend in the tangy robust flavor. I will caution you though, on the day you bake the bread, you will need three to four hours to have the bread ready for your meal. There is very little hands on time, but it does require some planning. I have prefaced the recipe steps with the time requirements, as the first time I made the bread it wasn’t ready until after dinner. This bread is suburb for dipping in olive oil and balsamic vinegar. I served the bread with Mission Olive Oil and aged balsamic vinegar. It was a lovely combination to pair with the warm Dutch Oven Bread.
|1 lb||A/P flour|
|1 1/2 t||salt|
|3 oz||light beer|
|7 oz||filtered water|
|1 T||white vinegar|
- Time 8–18 hours. Thoroughly mix all the ingredients in a non-reactive bowl. The dough will be “shaggy” or moist. Scrape down the sides of bowl, gathering all the dough into a ball in the center of the bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and keep in a draft free place for 8–18 hours.
- Time 2 hours. On a floured work surface, knead the dough 12–15 times and form it into a round shape. Place the dough onto a oiled piece of parchment paper which lines an 8-inch sauté or cake pan. Spray the top of the dough with oil and lightly cover with plastic wrap. Allow to rise for 2 hours.
- Time 45 minutes. Start your oven during the last hour of step 2. Heat oven to 500°. Pre-heat a Dutch oven in the hot oven for 30 minutes. When the Dutch oven is hot, remove the plastic film from the dough and dust it with flour. Make 2–3 slits across the top of the loaf with a sharp razor blade about 1/4″ deep. With great care, place the dough into the hot Dutch oven by using the parchment paper as a sling. Cover the Dutch oven and reduce the temperature to 425°.
- Time 50 minutes. Bake for 30 minutes with the lid on, and then 20 minutes with the lid off. The bread will be a lovely deep tawny brown when it is finished cooking.
- Time 30 minutes. After baking allow the bread to rest at least 30 minutes before slicing.