I grew up in Corona, New York in Queens where I had access to some of the best Italian bread available! So my tastebuds were spoiled! I wanted to recreate it, but with my schedule, I don’t have the time to dedicate to it.
… And then I was given a dutch oven as a gift last Christmas by one of my wonderful friends who knows how much I love to cook! The first recipe that I found was for no knead dutch oven bread, and it looked so very much like what both my eyes and tastebuds were used to!
The dutch oven simulates the moisture and steam that is used to make stone oven breads like the ones we ate from the Italian markets. In those ovens, there is usually a pan of water placed with the dough so that it is creates this gorgeous, bubbly crust. This is achieved in a dutch oven because it is baked enclosed, and the moisture drops from the lid onto the the bread being baked, forming the most amazing crust! Now one of my favorite sounds in the world is the sound of crackling that my bread makes as it cools. 🙂
Here is the recipe.
3 cups of break flour (or all purpose flour)
1/2 tsp active dry yeast
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups of warm water
In a large bowl, blend the dry ingredients with a whisk so that they are more evenly distributed. (You can even add any other dry ingredients to spice it up and make it all fancy! I love to add fragrant Greek oregano & Kalamata Olives or walnuts, raisins, cinnamon for a sweet bread). Then add the warm water and mix together with a wooden spoon. I cover with plastic wrap and a kitchen towel and leave out on the counter for 12-18 hours. The dough will be wet and bubbly. Place your dutch oven (with lid on) into a cool oven and set the oven for 425F. (You will find that most recipes say 450F, however the handle of my dutch is heatproof up to 428F, so I have had to adjust to a lower heat, but longer cook time)
While it is heating up, I take out a wooden cutting board and flour it and using a plastic spatula or wooden spoon, scrape it out onto the floured board. Sprinkle flour onto the dough and with floured hands, you can shape it. I like to shape it long because it is easier for my to slice it for sandwiches. Cover it and allow it to rise some more while the oven is warming up for about 30 minutes.
After 30 minutes at 425F, take dutch oven out of the hot oven, uncover, and place the dough in it. Cover and place in oven for 45 minutes. At 45 minutes, it should be a pretty golden color and when you tap on it, it should sound hollow. At this point, allow it to cook longer and achieve a darker crust for 20 minutes or so.
Remove form oven and place on a wire rack to cool.
Enjoy it any which way you like!!!