Or maybe I'm just a California girl at heart.
Or a wimp.
Besides wearing 3 layers of clothing inside my apartment to stay warm (apparently in NYC the supers don't turn on the heat until it starts snowing outside), I've discovered a new source of heat - the oven!
Don't worry Mom, I'm not leaving my oven on all day to heat my apartment. I'm just using it as an excuse to bake an excessive amount of baked goods.
Dutch Oven Bread
Prep time: 8hrs or 1hr 45min
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Servings: 1 small loaf
- 1 1/2 cups warm water
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 3 cups bread flour (plus another 1/2 cup or more for dusting)
- 1 pkg. active dry yeast
Now, there are a couple of different ways to make this bread. The cheaters way, and the authentic way.
I, obviously, went the cheaters route. But for those of you with a stronger moral compass than I, I shall give you both ways and let you decide for yourself whether you will do the right thing, or join me in the Dark Side of the Force.
Help me Obi-Wan Kenobi, you're my only hope!
Sorry. I've been watching too much sci-fi lately.
THE AUTHENTIC/RIGHT WAY:
In a large bowl or mixer, dissolve the yeast in the warm water. Add the flour and salt and mix thoroughly. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let rest on a counter at room temperature at least six hours, and preferably overnight.
It'll be loose and bubbly. That's ok. You're doing the right thing! Bubbles mean the yeast-y enzymes are doing their thing and developing a nice flavor in your dough. Work it enzymes!
Dust a cutting board with some flour and scrape the dough onto it (I suggest using a spatula and NOT your hands - you'll spend 10 minutes trying to get the dough off! Not that I am speaking from experience... wah wah.) Sprinkle a bit of flour over the top of the dough, as it will be VERY sticky.
Don't knead, just fold the dough over onto itself a couple of times, and shape it into a ball. You can do this by pulling the dough around the edges and folding them underneath. Place the dough on the counter on a piece of parchment paper and cover with a towel. Let rise for another 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
THE CHEATERS WAY (i.e. the Dark Side):
In your bread maker (Can you see where this is going already? Lazy much? Yes, yes I am.), add warm water, then flour, salt and yeast. Make sure the yeast doesn't come into contact with the water!
Put in bread maker on "dough" setting.
Let the bread maker do it's thang while you watch too much sci-fi and start quoting Star Wars characters.
When bread maker makes it's high-pitched beeping sound, that means all your hard work is done! Take the dough out (again, NOT with your hands. Bad idea.) and place on a piece of parchment paper that has been dusted with flour.
WHEN GOOD AND EVIL COLLIDE:
Ok, so regardless of how you made your dough, ("Come with me to the Dark Side.") (sorry.) you will follow these steps to complete the baking process:
Preheat your dutch oven in the oven at 450 degrees. Carefully remove the dutch oven, take off the lid, and gently place the parchment paper and dough in the center of the dutch oven. Use a knife to slash 3 slits in the dough, diagonally. (Please note, the photos do not show the slits. I forgot to do them. Oops.)
Put lid back on top and place back in the oven for 20 minutes. Then remove the lid, and bake for another 15 minutes until dough is browned on top. Remove from oven and let cool for an hour before cutting.
*Fun little trick I learned: after you cut into the bread, I find that homemade loaves tend to dry out pretty quickly. This time, I kept the whole thing wrapped up in a towel after I cut it, and then put the whole thing (towel and all) in a ziplock bag to store. The towel helped keep the moisture in without making the crust soggy, and the dough stayed fresh and soft! Try it!
"Do, or do not, there is no try!"
Ok, I'm done now.