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Dutch Oven “Artisan Sourdough” Bread

The following recipe is adapted from p. 594, “Almost No-Knead Bread,” Cook’s Illustrated Cook Book, sans author’s notes, with variations for “as-I-make-it,” and with huge credit to a Mr. Joe McBue, who made me look like a pro right out of the box.
Course Bread
Author Cindy F

Ingredients

  • 3 c 15 ounce all-purpose flour (or 1::2 whole wheat pastry flour, All Purpose flour.
  • 2 honey if using 1c whole wheat pastry flour plus 2c all-purpose flour.)
  • 2 Tbsp raw wheat germ optional
  • 1.5 tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp instant yeast
  • ¾ c plus 2 tbsp 7 ounce water from drinking water tap; either cool or tepid is fine. (Add and stir until dissolved)
  • High flash point cooking oil, such as corn oil, to coat parchment paper and boule.

Instructions

10-20 hours in advance of baking, 11-22 hours before serving, 5 minutes:

  • Mix dry ingredients together in 2.5 qt glass bowl.
  • Measure out beer separately from water/vinegar/[honey] mixture and pour all liquids at once over dry ingredients.
  • Fold together until a shaggy ball forms.
  • Cover with glass skillet lid for 8-18 hours at room temperature.

4-5 hours before serving, 5 minutes:

  • Cover peel (or inside of Dutch oven lid, if planning to start baking on a cool square of parchment and spray with high flash point cooking oil.
  • Knead dough 10-15 times on a floured counter. Cloak dough into a boule and place seam side down on the parchment paper.
  • Spray boule with cooking oil and cover loosely with plastic wrap.
  • Let rise at room temperature until doubled, about 2 hours.
  • At least 30 minutes before baking (45-60 minutes to thoroughly preheat a baking stone, if using, and the cast iron poadjust oven rack to lowest position, place Dutch oven with lid (unless proofing directly on cool lion rack and heat oven to 500 degrees F.

Bake, 40-50 minutes; cool before serving, 1-2 hours, allow 2-3 hours:

  • When loaf is doubled in size, remove plastic wrap (duand make a ½ inch deep slash or “x” along top of dough.
  • Slide parchment with dough onto hot Dutch oven lid (or place lid with dough already on it onto oven rack, if starting with cool lid), and cover with inverted, preheated Dutch oven pot.
  • Bake for 10-20 minutes at 500 degrees (Covered longer means thicker, chewier crust.)
  • Remove inverted pot-lid from baking boule, reduce temperature to 425° F, and continue baking until crust is a deep golden brown and loaf interior registers 210° F, for a total of 40-50 minutes–which is 20-30 minutes longer, depending on how long you baked the loaf covered.
  • Cool loaf on wire rack about two hours before slicing and serving.
  • Loaf keeps at room temperature at least five days. Reheating in toaster oven after first day restores fresh flavor. Best eaten on day it is baked.

Notes

Grace notes:
(1)        Pot-lid is H.O.T. and full of steam when you take it off the boule.  Do not wear glasses or inhale deeply while removing the pot-lid unless you don’t mind warping your best lens or searing your windpipe.  If you are blind without them, get safety goggles.  Tip the pot-lid away from you when lifting it off the baking boule. (2)        Have a place to put the heavy pot-lid when you take it out of the oven.  I’ve already destroyed one ceramic/wood composite trivet setting this pot on it… In the absence of a cast iron trivet, I set it on my stove top to cool. (3)        Oven mitts that cover your wrists are a good idea–very thick, long oven mitts.  I doubt there is a mitt made that will not scorch from lifting a 500 degree F cast iron pot. I have made this recipe four times, now, each time varying how I measured the flour (by scoop method, spoon method or weight), or the time the loaf was covered or the preheating time and even the oven temperature.  Each loaf was great on its own, in its own way.  Soon I will find the crust and flavor that suits my taste best.  It just goes to show, you can hardly go wrong with this recipe. ~~ Cindy F.