Welcome to yet another new section on the blog: the Guest Post! For anyone who’s been living under a rock and doesn’t get this concept, don’t freak out, it’s just someone who’s not me doing something cute with food/DIYs. Readers of Spices and Spatulas, meet Emily. She doesn’t have a blog of her own, but like me, she spends the majority of her time making delicious baked goods (she’s actually helped me on a great many posts here in the past) so you can definitely trust her on this recipe. You can read a recipe from the birthday brunch I threw her here. Now, onto the post!
Guest Post: Dutch Oven Bread
“How do you tell how good bread is without tasting it? Not the smell, not the look, but the sound of the crust. Listen.” –Colette, Ratatouille
Do you remember this scene from Ratatouille? If you don’t, go watch it immediately. The sound of the crust as she squeezes the loaf of bread is probably one of the most delightful sounds in the world. I will gladly admit to squeezing every loaf of bread at the grocery store to find the one with the best crust. A crusty crust (does that make sense?) is the ultimate sign of good bread.
This recipe allows you to achieve this without needing to leave your home. By baking the bread in the dutch oven, the steam is trapped, helping to make your crust extra crusty and delicious. It also makes your kitchen smell excellent. This was my first time baking bread, ever. It was incredible. If I can do it, you can do it.
Dutch Oven Bread (Adapted from the Food Coma Blog and the America’s Test Kitchen Family Baking Book)– 1 package active dry yeast
– 1 1/3 cup warm water (you will want it to be around 110 oF so that you don’t kill the yeast)
– a pinch or two of sugar
– 3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
– 2 teaspoons salt
– vegetable oil
Activate the yeast by mixing it with the warm water and sugar until dissolved. Allow it to sit while you assemble the rest of your ingredients. In a large bowl combine flour and salt. Stir in water/yeast mixture until you form a loose dough. I just used my hands to do this, but if you have an electric mixer with a dough hook that will work too. Knead the dough for 3-4 minutes. Place your dough ball in a large bowl that has been lightly coated with oil, cover with a damp cloth, and allow it to rise for 2 hours (or until it doubles in size).
On a lightly floured surface, knead your risen dough 15 times (try not to use the flour in excess or your bread will be dry). Return the dough to the bowl and let it rise for another hour until doubled in size.
Preheat your oven to 400 oF with your empty dutch oven inside (putting your bread in a warm vessel allows a beautiful crust to develop on the bottom). Turn your dough ball out onto a large sheet of parchment paper. When your oven in heated, take out the dutch oven and carefully use the parchment paper to lower it in. Use a sharp knife to score the top of the dough.
Cover the dutch oven with the lid and return it to the oven. After 20 minutes remove the lid and continue to bake your bread for another 20-30 minutes, it should take on a deep, golden hue. If you want to get technical, the internal temperature should register 210 oF. If you don’t, when you knock the loaf, it should sound hollow because of all the wonderful air bubbles that you created.
I know this looks like a lot of directions, but I promise this is not difficult and so worth the time. Good luck not eating the whole loaf in one sitting.