I have been fascinated with artisan breads for many years. Living in a smaller town, we didn’t get a bakery dedicated to these beautiful breads until about 8 years ago, but I drooled over them as I watched people eat them on television. Then when our local bakery opened, it was purported to being worked 24 hours a day because that is what is required for true artisan breads. I figured I would never be able to produce such delicacies. Then methods such as “Artisan Breads in 5 Minutes a Day” have surfaced, making such things very “doable” for the home chef!
Recently, I watched a local morning show, where a simple recipe for artisan bread was demonstrated. Their method used a simple pot, but I wondered, what about cast iron? Would it work. Well, yes. Yes it does and beautifully I might add.
A few things I thought I would mention if you wanted to make this yourself. I used some “artisan bread flour” I found at the grocery store, for this recipe. If you can, try to use a flour with a higher gluten content. If you don’t have that on hand, still don’t hesitate to use what you do have. It will still work. I was also worried that I would need a deep dutch oven, but I used a standard 10 inch and it worked perfect. A twelve-inch would also work.
This is such a show-stopper, I hope you make the time to bake it. Just make sure you invite someone over the share it with you. It is a masterpiece!
- 1 1/4 c. water, room temp.
- 1/4 t. yeast
- 2 c. bread flour (higher gluten)
- 1 1/2 t. sea salt
- 1 more c. flour
- In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in water.
- Stir in 2 cups of flour.
- Add salt and then stir in the rest of the flour, just until it is all incorporated.
- Cover with plastic wrap and let sit 18-24 hours at room temperature.
- When it is time to bake, preheat the oven to 425 (making sure your racks are positioned to allow for your dutch oven and lid). Also sprinkle a generous amount of cornmeal to the bottom of your dutch oven.
- To form a loaf, dust the counter heavily with flour (1/2 to 1 cup) and drop the risen dough on top (I used a bowl scraper to get it all out of the bowl. Use your floured hands to form a round loaf and place in your dutch oven. Cover and let rise for 30 minutes.
- Take the lid off and use a razor blade to make a criss-cross on the top of the loaf. Sprinkle with salt, seeds or leave plain.
|The dough after a 24 hour rise (sorry about the blue color! The camera was on the wrong setting.)||Shaping the loaf||In the Dutch Oven pre-rise||Here is the post-rise, slashed and salted|
- Stick the lid back on and place in the oven. Bake for 25 minutes. Then, take the lid off and bake 25 minutes longer.
Take your “prize” out of the dutch oven and let cool on a cooling rack.
To store your loaf: Don’t put in a plastic bag, that will ruin your crust. Place the loaf cut side down on a plate and it will stay fresh for about 2 days…if it lasts that long!