I’ve been testing some no-knead crusty Artisan bread recipes that cook in a Dutch oven and this is one of my favorites. It’s sooooo simple! Other one’s I’ve tried had the dough too loose to easily drop into the Dutch oven or used too much salt to my liking. The worst one I tried was a seeded whole wheat loaf that was so disgusting I couldn’t swallow the piece I bit off and threw the whole loaf out. A good bread is about both taste and texture.
Whole wheat needs to be treated differently than the method in this recipe. The bread becomes really dense and the crust is kind of gummy chewy to me–not crispy chewy. With whole wheat I feel you should add a sweetener and also knead it a bit to wake up the gluten.
This Artisan bread recipe uses all-purpose flour. It has been tested 6 times and each time it has a great crunchy crust and just enough chew in the soft dough part (crumb) –just the way I like it. I usually let it sit about 9 hours before baking it. The longer you leave it out the harder it is to shape.
Have you ever wondered what temperature is lukewarm? I go by the following:
Tepid = 75-80F
Lukewarm = 90 – 100F
Warm = 115-125F
Proofing the yeast I use 100F, but if the yeast is mixed into the dry ingredients then I use 120F water. Yeast will die around 130-140F.
70F–80 F Is recommended water temperature for bread machines.
I know—just call me geeky girl!
You’ll probably find variations of these temperatures on the net but the differences are around 5 degrees. These work for me. The one I wouldn’t take a chance on is the temperature that yeast dies at. I’ve seen it fluctuate 5 degrees higher but why take a chance?
My kitchen is the coolest room in the house so during the winter I let my bread dough rise in my office which is the warmest place. I’ve heard some people place their dough bowl on a heating pad on low, I just move the dough to another room. You might have to play around with this yourself because room temperatures play an important part as well as humidity when you’re baking bread.
Apparently the oven can’t cook the bread fast enough when everyone’s home.To say my family loves bread would be a vast understatement!
Growing up there were plenty of little independent bakeries and delis around so I’m spoiled! Being from a large cosmopolitan concrete city I had my choice of many small bakeries to buy bread from–Italian, Portuguese, Greek, and Scottish to mention a few. Mmm Italian crusty bread, delectable Portuguese rolls, soft Greek pita bread and warm Scottish baps. Sheeesh I think I just slipped into a euphoric bread based coma and gained 5 pounds reminiscing about it. UGH! I miss those independent bakeries but baking my own bread helps to ease my pain.
If you’re like me and you love to feel how the bread dough changes texture and smells when you knead it to that perfect point then you will miss that when you make this loaf. There is a reward however, when you bake it in the cast-iron Dutch oven it gets a perfect crust and nice little bit of chew.
The cast iron-pot methods are based on an old European technique of baking inside a closed clay pot (Cloche). I don’t have a Cloche and quite frankly I’d be afraid of it breaking and me crying. I use my 5 quart black cast-iron Dutch oven and I have great results with it. I haven’t used my enamel one for bread baking yet but as long the enamel can withstand the 450F temperature it should produce the same results. A black or enameled cast-iron pot with a lid can easily be purchased for about $35-40 if you don’t already have one. Cast-iron Dutch Ovens trap all of the internal moisture in the dough and that creates the steam which gives you that lovely crisp and shiny crust with a little bit of chew.
You need your Dutch oven to be really hot when you put the bread dough in it so I heated the pot part of the Dutch oven at 450F for at least 30 minutes. The first time I made this bread I cut parchment paper the size of the bottom of the Dutch oven and that’s what I placed the dough on to rest while the pot was heating. Then I picked the paper and dough up and plopped it in. That worked well. Then I got lazy and now I just pick up the dough and drop it — gently of course.
Let your bread cool completely before cutting as it’s still cooking and with all the moisture of the dough inside the crust needs to dry a little. You’ll enjoy this bread because it has lots of air pockets to catch the butter as it melts or the olive oil when it’s brushed on before grilling or broiling it.
I think the next one I’m going to let the dough sit in the fridge for a couple of days to develop a rich maltier flavor. Then I’ll take it out, shape it and let it rise for a couple of hours before cooking it in the Dutch oven. Having it age in the fridge will tighten the gluten and make it easier to shape.
Let me know how your bread turned out.
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