Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Dutch Oven Wheat Bread

Some people are terrified of baking their own bread, and I honestly don't understand why.  Most people give the reason as being afraid of yeast.  Yeastaphobes we like to call them.  Fear not my young padawans, I will show you the ways of the Breadi.  Holy shit I am clever and insanely dorky.  Oh well, I think I'm cool.  Moving on!

This here is a very basic, no fuss wheat bread.  The only special equipment you will need for this is a cast iron dutch oven, it can be enameled or not, your choice.  You could use a clay pot or pizza stone as well.  If you are going to use a pizza stone, you will need an oven proof pot to act as a lid as well. 

Combine all of the bread ingredients together and mix them well.  You can use a bowl and elbow grease or a kitchen machine, your choice.  Let this rest for 20 minutes, then knead for ten minutes.  Add flour as you need it just to keep it from sticking to things, don't over do it.  When the dough is soft and elastic, form it into a ball and cover it.  Let this rise for two hours.

A lot of people have trouble determining when the dough is properly kneaded.  The best advice I ever read was that if it feels like a boob, it's done.  So guys, grab the wife.  Ladies, grab your own.  How handy is that?

After it's risen, deflate the dough and shape it how you like it.  I went for a fat loaf shape, but any way you want to put it will work.  You can get all kinds of fancy if you want to.  Once you've shaped your dough, cover it and let it rise for another hour.

While your dough is doing it's second rise, you need to get your oven AND equipment preheated.  You absolutely must preheat your pans!  Set your oven to 500F/260C.  Don't worry about the temperature seeming insanely high, it's crucial to developing a good rise and crust, and I promise your bread won't burn.  If it does, that's all on you buddy.  Go ahead and preheat your dutch oven/clay pot (be sure to soak it first!)/pizza stone.  Make sure to preheat lids as well, and if they have plastic knobs, take them off or cover them with aluminum foil.  

So now the bread has risen, it's all fat and happy and ready to go.  Carefully set your risen loaf on a large sheet of parchment paper sprinkled with flour or cornmeal.  If you like, cut some 1/4 inch deep slits into the bread.  Doing this will cause the loaf to spread out and look pretty.  You can do whatever pattern you want.  Putting a layer of flour on top of the loaf will also create a really artsy look.  VERY CAREFULLY remove the dutch oven and drop your bread into it.  Put the lid on and bake 15 minutes.  

This step is the most important.  Cooking the bread with the lid on creates steam, which is crucial to developing a crust.  Do not be tempted to remove the lid any sooner than 15 minutes.  After the 15 minutes are up, carefully remove the lid.  Lower the temperature to 450F/230C and bake for an additional 15 - 20 minutes.  Carefully remove the loaf from the pan and cool completely.  That's it!  You can do this with absolutely any bread recipe you would like, you will get amazing results no matter what.  Ciabatta is perfect for this method, you will get an amazing crust and crumb. 


Basic Wheat Bread

1 1/2 teaspoons Insant Yeast
1 1/2 Cups Lukewarm Water
3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
4 Tablespoons Honey
3 1/2 Cups Coarse Wheat Flour, plus more for dusting
1 1/2 teaspoons Salt
1/4 Cup Sunflower Seeds and Walnuts, optional.

Combine all ingredients.  Mix until well combined and rest 20 minutes.

Knead dough 10 minutes and shape into ball.  Cover and rise 2 hours.

Deflate dough, shape into desired loaf form, cover and rise 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 500F/260C, preheat dutch oven or desired pan.

Place dough on floured parchment, cut slits and dust with flour if desired.  

Carefully place dough into preheated pan, cover with lid and bake 15 minutes.

Reduce temperature to 450F/230C and remove lid.  Bake an additional 15 - 20 minutes.

Remove from pan and cool completely.

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Evelyn Ravnestad said...

Hi, my name is Evelyn and I am an Yeastaphobe... :)

Anonymous said...

question, i've had two kids, will i still be able to use my boobs for the kneading assessment?

Jenna Ravnestad said...

Ah the troublesome 'tits aren't what they used to be' problem. I'd be lying if I said I didn't have the same problem. Your best option is to ask your husband/SO to feel it, I'm sure he's felt a perky tit or two. It'll help you and he will be able to take a trip down memory lane. Win-win situation.

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