Comfortably set in my thirties, from time to time I find myself unlocking the secrets to womanhood. First it was mastering my menstrual cup, a feat I consider to be up there with getting my first period. Then there was gaining the victory and independence of waxing my own underarms.
Baking my own bread is a category all its own. Not only am I able to provide this simple and essential staple with my own bare hands, but making it at home has eliminated the waste of store-bought bread.
When was the last time you enjoyed a piece of bread in all it's glory? Like a real, Oprahesque moment indulging in a piece of fluffy bread, so warm out of the oven the butter melts perfectly?
In my opinion, the worst thing for society has been sliced bread. Where's the beauty in week-old bread, suffocating in a plastic bag? Bread is supposed to be an experience -- enjoying it and baking it.
Bread is humanity. It's one of the oldest processed foods, a discovery of early man. Ancient Greeks named the mystical nectar of their gods ambrosia, literally translating as not bread. Revolutions have sparked over bread, or the lack thereof.
Baking my own fluffy yet crusty bread a process and an art; and after a couple years of experimenting with times and temperatures and perfecting the baking vessel, I am ready to share how I make the bread happen in my dutch oven, my favorite place to make bread!
Dutch Oven Bread Recipe
- 3 cups flour
- 1/2 tsp yeast
- 2 tbsp salt
- 1 1/2 cups warm water
Measure flour by scooping spoonfuls into the measuring cup and leveling with a knife -- digging the measuring cup into the flour bag or jar will result in a compact measure and you don't want your bread to be too dense. Mix flour, yeast, salt and water in a large bowl, folding with a wooden spoon until there is a defined mound.
Cover dough in an airtight container (I use my largest Pyrex because I don't keep plastic wrap in my home, but that works even better.) Let the dough sit in room temperature for 8-24 hours. The longer you wait, the higher the dough will rise and the fluffier it will be!
After the dough has risen, preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Place the dutch oven in the heated oven for 30 minutes, without the lid. Gently roll your dough on a floured surface to get a light coating of flour on the exterior, being careful not to knead or push out too much air. Feel free to make a cut across the top so the loaf can break open as it expands.
Place the dough in the warmed dutch oven, cover, and bake inside the oven (double oven!!) for 30 minutes. Remove the lid and bake for another 10 minutes, or until lightly browned. Remove from the ovens and let cool before serving... but not too much (see butter note above.)