Easy Dutch Oven Bread (and sweater vest dreams)
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Today’s bread is a really simple one requiring very little work. Most of the time is spent ignoring it while it does its thing and you go about your business. This is a crusty bread on the outside with that wonderful hard crust and a chewy bread on the inside, which I love!
BUT FIRST I wanna tell you a little story…
I am a very motivated person. I get these ideas and I get EXCITED and I run with them. The bad thing is, I generally get a few miles down the road before I get ANOTHER idea and then I get excited about IT and then I want to abandon first idea, because it was cool but I’ve already done it at that point, and go run with idea #2 because it is new and exciting. Welcome to adult ADD, never a dull moment here
So I have had to learn self control and acquire the ability to stand back and examine an idea for feasibility. Still, even though the majority of my ideas get filed away these days due to lack of time and energy, others I still allow myself to enjoy for a bit even though it is too impractical to put into practice.
This morning, as I pulled my tenth loaf of bread out of the oven in two days, I thought of how nice and simple life would be if I baked bread for a living out of my home. Think about it. Get up in the morning, knead the risen dough and shape into loaves, place it in pans and allow it to rise while I worked up the dough for the following day’s bread. Hours later pull golden loaves out of the oven and turn them out to cool while I washed my loaf pans (my husband will be particularly excited to see this dream includes me washing dishes).
Then, once the loaves are cooled I would package them and head out of the house to deliver to all of the people just sitting at home waiting on me to bring them fresh baked bread.
Of course, there would have to be a movie soundtrack playing in the background, an upbeat little piano number, and I’d have to be one of those people who never wears makeup but always looks good (I’m pulling out the serious fiction for myself here). My initial thoughts were that I’d hop on a bicycle to deliver them but in my head I can’t help but picture this as some sort of an eighties movie and I’m in a mini van wearing mom jeans and a sweater vest over an oxford shirt. I dream big.
Then the reality comes into play that I do not have the heart of a business person and anytime I’ve tried to sell anything for profit I have always (consistently) lost money because I’d rather give things to people than sell them….so at this point I need to rewrite the movie so I’m married to a wealthy man and we live in a huge mansion, which means my eighties mini van goes poof and delivering bread in a ~tries to think of a fancy expensive car brand and fails~ Well, a fancy expensive car just doesn’t go along with the happy piano soundtrack and at this point I’m picturing myself looking like more of a Crystal Carington – because I can’t imagine this invisible rich man having the good sense to appreciate a woman in mom jeans and a sweater vest – and then I can’t imagine Crystal Carington baking bread.
Popped that dream bubble real quick.
So in lieu of me riding a bicycle and devoting my life to bad eighties fashion and flour acquisition, I’m just gonna share this bread recipe with you and let you make it on your own.
I’ve seen recipes for bread like this all over the internet and several months back I made it for the first time, loved it, made it two or three more times, loved it again, then forgot about it. How often do you do that with a recipe? I never considered posting it because it had been on someone else’s food blog and I know firsthand how much it costs to run a blog so the last thing I want to do is post someone else’s recipe and take away the traffic that helps them pay the light bill. So I never intended to share this delicious bread with you because other folks had shared it elsewhere….then I got my issue of Grit magazine and saw the bread again in there. Then I opened my eyes and realized this bread is kind of everywhere and we all do little things differently when we make it. For example, I’m even lazier and ignore half of the instructions but it turns out just fine!
So I decided to make it showing the way and the recipe that works for me and telling you how to do it in my own words with love to the original post where I got the first recipe I tried from, and to Grit magazine who reminded me to make it again. Google search pulls up over 80,000 other versions of this recipe currently so here we go with 80,001
I have a few breads I’d like to eventually show you because I really believe that everyone needs to know how to make at least one bread from scratch. It is an essential skill that literally helped mankind survive for thousands of years and you never know when we’ll need it again – PLUS, it just tastes so stinking good!
When I was expecting my Katy Rose, I got this hankering for these hard crusty dinner rolls with chewy innards that were sold at Atlanta Bread company. I used to ask my husband to stop by a few times a week just to get me two or three dinner rolls to munch on during the day. Well, this bread reminds me of that, only it’s better.
I’ll probably bring you some other versions of it eventually as well.
Not literally bring, because I don’t currently have a biccyle or a sweater vest, but figuratively bring…because I do have this website
You’ll need: Hot water, yeast, bread flour, and salt.
NOTE ABOUT BRANDS : I prefer Red Star yeast when I can find it. It is easy to find in the packets here but I like to buy a jar because I use so much that I prefer less fuss, so I had to get Fleishmann’s last time I shopped. I have had better luck with Red Star yeast so if you see that, I’d suggest making it your first choice.
As for this bread flour, I usually use whatever I pick up first that is cheapest but there wasn’t a lot of selection where I ended up so grab some bread flour but don’t worry about getting this gold Medal. It works fine but one is just as good as the other.
You do need bread flour. All Purpose will work in some way but I’ve never made this bread with all purpose flour so you’re flying solo if you choose to go on that mission
I do love my Kosher salt but plain table salt will work just as well.
You’re also going to need a cast iron dutch oven, such as my Lodge Dutch oven here.
I got this for Mother’s Day a few years back and it is well used.
Also, it is dirty in this photo because I needed to do dishes in a bad way but the sink was too full of dirty dishes to be able to do them at the particular moment that I needed a photograph.
Life is just crazy like that
An enamel coated cast iron dutch oven is important here and the Lodge ones are very affordable. A lot of folks want Le Crueset but my Le Wallet can afford Lodge. Not to mention it understands my Alabama accent because it’s all made in Tennessee.
Place all of your dry ingredients into a medium sized mixing bowl. This means your flour, salt, and yeast.
Let me show you something about the yeast…
When I say a heaping 1/4 teaspoon of yeast, this is what I mean.
Just kinda use a 1/4 teaspoon to scoop it out and then add whatever decides to come with it
Now stir all of those dry ingredients together.
Stir all of your dry ingredients together really well.
Pour in your water.
Now remember that in yeast bread, if your water is too hot, it will kill the yeast. If your water is too cold, it will take ten forevers for your yeast to come alive. The trick is “baby bath water”. Anyone who has ever given a baby a bath knows just how that feels. Hot, but not too hot, more of warm water on the hot end of the scale
Stir that up until it is a glob.
You can use a mixing bowl for this but I have these handy little bread buckets I use that have a sealing plastic lid and plenty of room for the bread to rise. However, this particular bread isn’t going to rise very much so a large bowl will be just fine.
I have some breads that overflow an eight quart container!
Spray cooking spray in a bowl (or bread bucket) and cover to seal.
Set aside and let it rise for 12-18 hours.
The ideal thing is to let it rise overnight. This nice slow rise builds a wonderful texture for your bread but mostly it helps the bread’s flavor to develop.
This is what your bread will look like the following morning.
All bubbly and spongey and OH MY GOODNESS IT’S ALIVE-Y. ~smiles~
Dust a surface with flour.
Okay when I say dust, I mean coat
This is what your bread will look like from the top before you dump it out.
Now dump it out like yesterday’s troubles!
Sprinkle some more flour over the top of it.
Cover with a dish towel.
Let rise again for about 2 hours.
When you’re done letting your bread rise, preheat your oven to 475.
Please note: 475 degrees is hot.
Place your cast iron dutch oven into the stove with the lid on for 30 minutes.
Please make sure the knob on the top of your dutch oven is heatproof. I purchased a new knob for mine because the original one was not. If your knob is not heatproof it will come out of the oven looking like a deflated balloon that fell on top of your lid. Trust that I speak from experience here…
This is my dough all ready to go.
And as you can tell I did make my bread in the morning so we have a lovely plant shadow from the rising sun.
Remove your hot hot pot VERY Carefully
Please note again: 475 degrees is hot. I’m sooo not kidding here.
Pick up your bread dough with both hands and kinda sorta shape it into a ball as you dump it into the pot, without touching the pot.
I know I sound like a broken record here but in case anyone missed it and just so we don’t have any McDonald’s “How dare you serve me hot coffee” moments – this pot is going to be hotter than Hades after it’s been cranked up a few thousand years and gotten past the mild stuff.
Put your lid back on the pot and return to the oven.
Bake at 475 for 30 minutes, then carefully remove the lid and bake another 15 minutes.
Remove from oven.
This is what you have. Isn’t that gorgeous?
I could happily live on this bread the rest of my life.
But I’d be most content, I’m sure!
Think you might want to make this later? Save it to your recipe box!
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QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
I received a lot of questions on this post and many of them seem to be the same ones so I thought I’d address them here to be able to help everyone. Thanks for asking !
What size dutch oven do you use?
Pictured here is my Six Quart Lodge enamel coated Dutch oven in Spice Red and my L Series dutch oven in Apple Green. You can click on either photo or name to get more information. I got my red one from Wal Mart and my green one last Christmas when I found an incredible deal on Amazon. Both of these can be ordered from Amazon and they usually have free shipping options. All you need is one and you’ll be good to go!
Common sizes are 3 quart, 4 quart, 6 quart, and 7.5 quart. Any of those sizes would work just fine.
What else can you use a dutch oven for?
Oh goodness, it is my FAVORITE pot to cook in on the stove top. I LOVE to make stews, chilis, soups, beans, spaghetti sauce, anything that you’d use a pot for you can use this pot for. If you’re making a soup or stew, brown your beef in the dutch oven, then drain it and toss everything else in for one pot cleanup. The reason why I love it so much is because of the heat retention and distribution qualities of cast iron. Regular pots just cook from the bottom but the cast iron distributes and retains the heat all around the pot so it actually cooks from all sides, which makes it quicker and more efficient.
THEN, once you’re done cooking, just put the lid on and turn off the heat and it will stay piping hot for at least an hour (much longer than that but I’ve never timed it or anything). Regular pots lose heat so fast and you end up having to heat things up if you cook a little earlier in the afternoon. Whenever I cook a little earlier, I try to use my dutch oven. I can get it done before the kids get out of school, put the lid on and go pick them up, then come home to a hot supper when my husband gets off work, even though the pot has sat on the stovetop with no heat turned on the entire time.
And yes, I have always used cast iron on my glass stove top. As long as the bottom of your cast iron pot is flat, it works perfectly!
Where did you get the oven proof knob for your dutch oven?
My dutch oven came with a regular knob that was just fine for temperatures on the stovetop but not for the high temperatures I subject it to in my oven when baking bread. I picked up a stainless steel replacement knob at the Lodge factory outlet store near me but you can order one online by clicking that little box over there. As someone pointed out in the comments, you can also pick up a stainless steel knob at a home supply store and use it as well.
I Don’t Have An Enamel Coated Dutch Oven? What Else Can I Use?
A regular cast iron dutch oven, like is commonly used in camping and such, should work just fine although I’ve only used my enamel coated ones in making this so I’m not telling you that for certain.
Many folks have talked about using a heavy dutch oven with a glass lid. While I know some of the old heavier ones will work, I would steer clear of putting a glass lid in the oven at these temperatures. Tempered glass is not made as well as it used to be and I’ve had one too many new fangled glass “oven proof” dishes explode upon taking them out of the oven to be willing to risk it.
If you have a thick and heavy dutch oven with a lid not made out of glass and an oven proof knob, it should work just fine.
Hint: If you don’t have an enamel coated dutch oven, Christmas is coming so put it at the top of your wish list! My husband and kids bought me mine. I took them to visit it several times and made sure they each knew exactly what I wanted to increase my odds, it worked! lol
Where Did You Get Your Bread Buckets and What Are They?
I bought my bread buckets at Sam’s Club for around twelve dollars back when I got them. They still have them every time I go in the restaurant supply section. Costco sells them as well and many places online but be careful because some folks are awfully proud of theirs! I’ve seen them priced as high as $30, which is ridiculous
I’d expect to pay anywhere between $12-$20 for a set of three. The ones at Sam’s are labeled with their house brand but in the bottom corner it says they are made by Rubbermaid – those are the ones I have. They came in a set of three with yellow lids that seal. They are technically “food storage buckets” but they work beautifully for bread, giving it plenty of room to rise and allowing you to see through the sides to see how far it has risen. The lids seal airtight as well, which saves me from having to grab saran wrap and dish towels every time I make bread.
These also have markings every inch or so on the outside of the bucket, making it easy to tell if your bread has doubled in size because many recipes call for letting it double.
Can I use All Purpose Flour?
As I mentioned in this post, I’ve never made it this way so I can’t speak from personal experience. However, someone chimed in that they have made it with all purpose and it turned out just fine, yay!
Do Dutch ovens actually understand Dutch?
You know I have a friend who speaks Dutch and I can’t understand a blessed word she says once she gets to going real good on it. She taught me how to say “apple” once but that was about as far as I got. For all I know, dutch ovens may very well speak Dutch because I only speak Alabamian and mine has spent the entirety of it’s life staring at me blankly from the stovetop. No one really asked this question but sometimes I gotta see if y’all are paying attention.
What is SAF yeast?
A few people mentioned preferring SAF yeast in the comments and a lot of folks had questions as to what that is. SAF is a brand of yeast, owned by the same company that makes Red Star Yeast, which I suggested. I have found that certain brands have better reliability for me, meaning they are active and fresh. This may very well depend on where you live and what the turnover is at your grocery store. Check the dates whenever you buy yeast and if you find a certain kind seems to always work better where you are, stick with that.
“There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man; true nobility is being superior to your former self.”
– Ernest Hemingway
Submitted by Jenny (thanks, Jenny!)