This no-knead dutch oven bread is easy enough to bake during the week; just set it up before you go to bed and bake it in the morning. It comes out with a chewy fluffy center and perfect crust with very little effort. I mean really, very little, and it comes out tasting like you just bought it at a local bakery. Now that local bakery is your kitchen, and yes your kitchen will smell wonderful. Bread writers describe the crumb and moistness and crust texture, but all you need is a bite of this and you’ll be convinced to make it over and over again.
I’m sure that all sorts of variations can be done like adding rosemary or fancy cheese or toasted sunflower seeds, but I love it so much plain that although I’ve made it several times I have not altered the recipe at all. That’s pretty amazing for me, as I can barely get through most recipes the first time without changing something. This basic recipe has been featured in the New York Times, but of course humans have been combining flour, yeast, and water to make bread for much longer than that.
There is a concern with some Dutch Ovens about the oven temperature at 450. The enameled Le Creuset can do this just fine, but there are two different styles of knob on the lids – one of them is okay at this temp and one will crack, so make sure you know the temperature limits of your cookware. A non-enameled cast iron dutch oven will work as long as it doesn’t have knobs or handles that are not heat-proof. I think it’s pretty silly to put non-heat-proof knobs on something that obviously is going to be put into the oven, but I digress.
A word of warning about taking the pot out of the oven: I discovered the hard way that not all potholders can handle the heat of this pot, even though they are perfectly fine for everything else. I melted one of my favorites that I’ve had for… oh gosh almost ten years. Darn it. So, prepare a spot on the top of a gas stove (love those sturdy cast-iron grate things) or use a trivet that isn’t fabric or yarn. I would hesitate to put it on a glass-top stove and definitely do not put it on a counter.
There are two steps – the rising time and the cooking time. The rising time is 12-18 hours (or overnight, or a day at work, it isn’t very picky).
The cooking time for regular bread that needs to be kneaded is about 3 to 3 1/2 hours. This bread is about half that. 45 minutes for pre-heating everything and another 45 minutes for baking, plus 15 minutes for cooling.
Special equipment needed:
Dutch Oven (I use a 5.5-qt Le Creuset)
Cooling rack (the kind used for cookies)
Flour from Lehi Roller Mills
- 3 cups flour
- 1 3/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp yeast
- 1 1/2 cups water
- Handful of corn meal (regular, not coarse)
- In a LARGE mixing bowl, mix together flour, salt and yeast. Add water and mix. The bowl should have extra space for the dough to expand by two or three times.
- Cover bowl with plastic wrap and set aside for 12 - 18 hours. Overnight or all day at work is great.
- Heat oven to 450 degrees (mine takes about 15 minutes).
- When the oven is preheated, place a cast iron pot with a lid in the oven (the lid doesn't need to pre-heat, just need to make sure the pot has one) and heat the pot for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, pour dough onto a heavily floured surface and shape into a ball. Dough will be very wet and sticky - use just enough flour to get it into a rough shape that you can pick up for dropping into the pot. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit while the pot is heating.
- Remove hot pot from the oven and sprinkle in a handful of corn meal, then drop in the dough. Cover and return to oven for 30 minutes.
- After 30 minutes remove the lid and bake an additional 15 minutes.
- Remove pot from oven. Remove bread from pot (use hot pad mitts!) and place bread on a cooling rack to cool. Let it cool before slicing.