One thing I hate, is having to go to the shops just to buy bread. Because of this, I am always on the lookout for bread recipes that I can make, I find it easier (and cheaper) than shopping.
This recipe is really good. The dough comes together in a few minutes. You allow 2 hours for rising time and you have freshly baked bread an hour later.
The crust is so crunchy, and the centre is perfectly chewy. Honestly once we crack this open, we can't stop eating it, hot bread and butter, it's so good.
Next day, the crust softens, but I love it toasted, it really is great.
If you don't have bread flour, you can use plain flour.
If the weather is hot, the dough may rise faster, if it's cold it may take longer. On cold days I turn on my dryer (empty) for a few minutes to heat up, then turn it off and put the covered bowl with the dough in it, inside the dryer, it works perfectly.
If you don't have a cast iron pot, bake your bread on an oven tray and place a 20cm square baking dish filled with boiling water on the shelf directly underneath the bread. It will create steam in the oven and give a nice crust.
Flour behaves differently on different days. Sometimes this dough is very sticky, some days, it's not too sticky. But what you don't want to do is add too much flour as less flour = wetter dough = bigger air pockets = fluffier bread.
Once dough has risen, you can bake it immediately or, for better flavour, let it rise for 2 hours then refrigerate for a minimum of 8 hours, up to 3 days. You can even mix it together in the evening, then bake it fresh in the morning for breakfast.
Don't focus on the shape too much, it will be a rough circle, but what I love, rough edges create crunchy bits on the bread.
Don't cut bread straight out of the oven, leave it for 20 minutes as it keeps cooking while cooling.
This is an easy recipe, perfect for beginners or anyone that loves homemade bread.
Makes 1 loaf
3 cups (450g) bread flour, you can use plain flour
2 teaspoons instant or rapid rise yeast
2 teaspoons cooking salt, not table salt
1½ cups (375 ml) very warm tap water, not boiling
2 tablespoons Bread flour or Semolina flour, for dusting
Mix flour, yeast and salt in a large bowl. Add water, then use the handle of a wooden spoon to mix until all the flour is incorporated. Dough will be wet and sloppy – not kneadable, but not runny like cake batter. Adjust with more water or flour if needed for right consistency.
Cover with cling film, leave on counter for 2–3 hours until it doubles in volume, it’s wobbly like jelly and the top is bubbly. If after 1 hour it doesn’t seem to be rising, move it somewhere warmer.
At this stage you can either bake it immediately or refrigerate for up to 3 days. If you refrigerated the dough, leave the bowl on the counter for 45-60 minutes while your oven and pot are preheating. Cold dough does not rise well.
Put Dutch oven in oven with lid on (26cm or larger). Preheat to 230°C/220°C fan forced) 30 minutes prior to baking.
Sprinkle work surface with 1 tablespoon of flour or semolina, scrape dough out of bowl. Sprinkle top with 1/2 tablespoon flour or semolina. Using a dough scraper or anything of similar shape, fold the sides inwards (about 6 folds) to roughly form a roundish shape. Don’t be too meticulous here – you’re about to deform it, it’s more about deflating the bubbles in the dough and forming a shape you can move.
Slide a large piece of parchment/baking paper (not wax paper) next to the dough, then flip the dough upside down onto the paper (seam side down, smooth side up). Slide/push it towards the middle, then reshape it into a roundish shape. Don't stress if not perfect.
Remove hot Dutch oven from oven. Use baking paper to place dough into pot, place lid on. Bake for 30 minutes covered, then 15-20 minutes uncovered or until deep golden and crispy.
Cool on rack for 20 minutes before slicing.
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