Easy, fancy, no-knead bread recipe using a Dutch oven

If you’re a novice bread baker with high aspirations of crafting beautiful loaves that are crusty on the outside, and are spongy and nonuniform on the inside, and who has tried attaining this goal the hard way, and failed, only creating bricks or dead loaves, read on! 

All you need is a Dutch cast iron oven, also sometimes called a French oven, four ingredients, and a lot of hands-off time. 

This recipe seems to be originally from a New York Times recipe. There are many variations of it across the web from various bloggers who have taken it and made it their own. I’ve baked a variation of the NYT recipe twice using the proportions below, and found that the recipe tasty and repeatable.

Here are the ingredients and the steps.

  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • ½ tsp active dry yeast
  • 2 tsp course kosher salt
  • 1 ½ cup room temperature water
  • Extra flour for rolling the dough in, about 1/3 cup
  1. Combine and stir together the dry ingredients in a bowl that lends itself to being covered with plastic wrap. 
  2. Slowly pour the water and mix with a wooden spoon so it absorbs all of the dry mixture. Dough will be moist and shaggy. 
  3. Cover your bowl tightly with plastic wrap or a lid, and allow to sit at room temperature for 12-18 hours. Do not disturb.
    Note: The first loaf I made, I was in a rush and hungry and baked it after 12 hours. The second loaf, I baked after 18 hours. I noticed a very minor difference in the texture of the bread between the two times. It wasn’t big enough to warrant extra waiting if you’d rather have it sooner.
  4. Thirty minutes before you reach your 12-18 hour waiting time, heat up your Dutch oven in the oven at 450 degrees. 
  5. Once your dough is ready, take your extra flour and spread evenly on a clean surface. 
    Note: both of the times, I left my dough undisturbed and it rose double in size and was very sticky and bubbly.
  6. Pour your dough onto the surface. Use a spatula to scrape out any dough that’s stuck to the bowl. 
  7. Gingerly roll the very wet dough into a ball and cover the surface with a thin layer of flour.
  8. Very carefully, move your ball of dough into the Dutch oven. Remember it will be very hot!
  9. Bake with the lid on for 30 minutes. 
  10. Carefully remove the hot lid and bake for another 30 minutes. 
  11. When finished, let the bread cool for 10 minutes and then enjoy!

I used a Lodge-brand enamel cast iron oven, but there’s other brands like Le Creuset or Staub, that will also do the trick. I used a larger oven that’s 7.8 quarts, but a 4 or 6 quart would probably work even better since it would help the loaf maintain circular shape without the dough spreading out. Another lesson learned is to make sure the knob on the Dutch oven is a stainless steel one, or else it will implode and crack when at the high temperature, like mine did.

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Good morning folks! Looks like we may have a few rain showers here today, but the horrible storm that they were tracking doesn’t look like it’s going to hit us like they originally predicted. Great news there! My apartment seems to face directly into the worst of the rain and has flooded a couple of times already. Never gets too bad, but several towels have to be used to keep it at bay. On that…

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I have been working a property in NC for 3 yrs now. It’s mountain land and has very compacted heavy clay soil. This is not georgia red clay (utisol) but a dark brown, sometimes yellow, sometimes gray clay heavy soil with hardpan and many many rocks. I am in the process of fixing a perennial herb bed, and it’s half done and the plants I transplanted are loving it. Every plant is digging this soil. Here’s the ‘kitchen sink’ mix:1 x 11 lb rehydrated brick of coconut coir; expanded to 3.8 cu ft1 x 3.8 cu ft of peat moss1 x 3.8 cu ft of sand1 x 3.8 cu ft of compost1 x 3.8 cu ft of double ground hardwood mulch1 x 3.8 cu ft of vermiculite5 x 3.8 cu ft of native, heavy-rocky clay soil; large rocks removed, clumps and hardpan broken up(optional) 1 gallon of mycelium grown on wood chips(optional) 1 gallon of wood chips or half burned twigs(optional) ½ gallon of wood ash – check your pH first(optional) bone meal, gypsum, epsom salt, greensand, EM / compost tea, Natures Nog / wormsso, it’s 1:1:1:1:1:1:5 by volume. 4 cu ft is roughly 1 large wheelbarrow full (I use a large 4 wheel gorilla cart and it’s so useful I want another just so mine can have a friend)Methodology:Used a Mattock to double or triple dig the clay soil. 7ft steel digging bar for big rocks.Used a Thick tined Pitchfork to move compost and mulch. It’s more effective than shovel by far.Use Pitchfork to mix. Mix by teasing, jabbing and shaking the loaded fork.Double dig your area of native clay soil into a pile as if you are building a swimming pool. Then start adding thin layers of each to the void like the lasagna method, sandwiching native clay every few layers.When you are done use pitchfork to hand till or use a tiller if you have sieve-removed all the large rocks when adding the clay layer back. I don’t own a tiller, I’d destroy it within a few feet there’s so many rocks. I use a massive heavy broadfork instead. If I hit big rocks, I say a few curse words, and then I remove them.Vermiculite has become so expensive I might just double or triple the amount of sand instead. via /r/Permaculture

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