Bread a la Two Ovens

Recipe Count – 41 left
Section Count – Bread: All done. No More. Is complete. For now.

I like bread.

Being a kitchen chemist, bread is something I’m fairly good at making (at least I think so; no complaints from Adam anyway) – my thought process and approach just fits with how baking works. Which is not say I haven’t made bricks instead of bread before. Using too hot water (killed the yeast), not paying enough attention to my substitutions and the math needed (gluten content changing -> not enough/too much yeast), and so on. All that said, Dutch Oven Bread is one of the easier bread recipes I’ve made. Not necessarily the fastest, but definitely easy. Possibly a good one to use for a first go at baking bread.

Dutch Oven Bread

Adapted from Ruhlman’s Twenty

  • 4 cups whole wheat pastry flour (do NOT use whole wheat flour if it’s not pastry flour. Use all-purpose flour instead)
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1 tsp yeast
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • olive oil

Yep, that’s it. That’s all the ingredients you need. I don’t know about you, but that’s stuff I just keep lying around in the pantry.

  1. In a stand mixer with the dough hook attachment, combine the flour, water, yeast, and salt. Alternatively, use a big bowl and mix well – it’s just easier with a stand mixer. Mix on medium speed until smooth and elastic, about 5-10 minutes. When it looks smooth, pull a small piece off and try stretching it. If it stretches to the point of transparency, it’s ready.
  2. Cover the bowl with a pot lid, kitchen towel, or plastic wrap. Allow dough to rise until doubled in size and does not spring back when poked with a finger. Should take 2-4 hours. My favorite place to leave rising dough is on top of a running clothes dryer – the dryer keeps the air warmer than the rest of the house. Helps that our dryer is in a smallish enclosed area.
  3. Turn the dough out onto a work surface (wooden cutting boards are great for this) and knead for a bit. Shape roughly into a ball, cover with a towel, and let stand for 10 minutes or so.
  4. Shape dough into a tight ball (the tighter the better) by rolling it between your palms on the work surface.
  5. Coat the bottom and sides of your large Dutch oven (or other heavy oven-proof pot) [5 1/2 quarts/5.2 liters or larger please] with olive or vegetable oil. Put the dough in the center of the pot, cover with the lid, and allow to rise again for 30-60 minutes (less for warm areas, more for cold).
  6. Preheat the oven to 450°F/230°C.
  7. Rub olive oil gently over the top of the dough and then score an X in the bread with a sharp knife. This allows the dough to expand freely while cooking. Also, looks pretty. If you like, sprinkle the dough with kosher salt. Cover the pot and put in the oven.
  8. After 30 minutes, remove the lid, reduce the oven temperature to 375°F/190°C, and continue baking until the bread is browned and cooked through, roughly 15 minutes. If you have a digital thermometer, the internal temperature of the bread should be around 200°F/95°C when done.
  9. Allow bread to rest on a rack for at least 30 minutes before serving. This is one of those steps that I found really counter-intuitive as I was learning to make bread. Wouldn’t you want to eat hot fresh bread right out of the oven? Trust me, allowing the bread to rest and redistribute moisture evenly, actually does make it taste better.

This one is kind of a rustic bread, except cooked in a Dutch oven (a really big pot – yeah, I don’t know why they’re called that. Should probably research that) instead of on an oven rack. Produced a dense, but not chewy, crumb – went well with Adam’s soups and stews as our dinner bread. We used it for sandwiches (peanut butter/almond butter and jelly), which was tasty but made for some funny looking sandwich slices. Being of a round shape and all.


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