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Dutch Oven Bread from Cook’s Illustrated

October 5, 2010
I’m not sure how to put this, but this recipe is the most exciting thing I’ve baked in a while.  Generally I would not call myself a baker, and so I couldn’t believe how well this bread turned out.  The hardest part about making it is waiting 2 hours for it to cool.  Below I’ve included the basic recipe, along with a few variations I’ve tried.

Basic ingredients + time = awesome bread

The recipe for Almost No-Knead Bread was developed by Cook’s Illustrated, who in turn was inspired by the NY Times’ No-Knead Bread.  Much has been said about these recipes already, so really I am just joining the masses in raving about it.  But seriously, I can’t stop raving.  I have plans to bake a loaf every Sunday throughout the cold season, until I can’t bear to put the oven on anymore.

Version 2: Olives & Rosemary

Basic Recipe:

  • 2 cups (10 ounces) all purpose or bread flour
  • 1 cup (5 ounces) whole wheat flour (you can just use another cup of white flour if you prefer)
  • 1/4 tsp. instant or rapid-rise yeast
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 Tbs. honey (you can omit this if using all white flour)
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 Tbs. (7 ounces) water at room temp
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 Tbs. (3 ounces) mild flavored lager
  • 1 Tbs. white vinegar
  • Optional: additional salt and olive oil for crust

1. Combine dry ingredients and whisk to mix.  Add wet ingredients and mix.  Cover with plastic wrap and let sit for 8-18 hours (I find overnight works well).

2. Take the dough out of the bowl, and knead on a floured surface for 10-15 times.  Place parchment paper in a skillet, and lay the rounded ball of dough onto the parchment.  Cover loosely with plastic wrap and allow to sit until doubled, approximately 2 hours.

Dough placed in a hot dutch oven...

3. Place an enameled dutch oven into the oven and heat at 500 degrees for 30 minutes.  Note: If your dutch oven has a plastic handle on the lid (most come this way),  you will have to remove it before placing in the oven.  There is a screw on the bottom of the lid that allows you to take it off.  Metal handle replacements are available for separate purchase (I plan on getting some now that I am hooked on making this bread).

Back into the oven (note that the plastic handles on the pots are removed...)

4. After 30 minutes of pre-heating, turn the oven down to 425 degrees, and take the dutch oven out.  Use the parchment paper to lift the dough up and into the dutch oven (keeping the parchment).  Optional: Place an ice cube in the pan on the side under the parchment.  Place the lid back on and return to the oven.

Phase 1: Cook for 30 minutes covered

5. Cook for 30 minutes, then remove the cover.  Continue to cook uncovered for 15-20 minutes, or until the bread reaches an internal temperature of 220 degrees.  Remove from the dutch oven and allow to cook on a drying rack for 2 hours (if you can wait that long…)

Phase 2: Cook 20 minutes uncovered, then check for 220 degrees

Variations:

  • Additional Oil and Salt: I like salt…a lot.  I found that this recipe could handle more salt if desired.  When removing the lid (step 4), drizzle 1 to 2 tbsp. olive oil and 1/2 tsp salt over the top of the bread.
  • Sweet and Savory: Substitute apple cider for the lager, apple cider vinegar for the white vinegar and molasses for the honey.  A great option to serve with cheeses and fruit.

Original Recipe Glamor shot

  • Olive-Rosemary: Add 4 oz. (2 cups) of pecorino romano cheese to the dry ingredients.  When adding the remaining ingredients, include 1/2 cup chopped olives (more if you really like olives) and 2 tbsp. chopped rosemary.

Olive-Rosemary Glamor shot

  • Cheddar-Chilpotle: Add 1 tbsp. minced chilpotle peppers in with the wet ingredients.  Once kneading is complete (step 2), flatten out the dough and place 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese (I used maple-smoked cheddar from Murray’s Cheese), and fold the dough over the cheese.  Place in parchment fold-side down.  When placing the bread in the hot dutch oven, sprinkle and additional 1/3 cup cheese over the top.

Flatten out dough and place cheese on top

Fold the sides of the bread over the cheese and place on the parchment paper fold-side down

Sprinkle cheese on top of the bread before baking. Then bask in its beautiful spicy-cheesiness!

The cheese melts into the bread as it bakes, as you can see from the cross-section. Josh says that this bread tastes as close to bacon as bread possibly could.

Stay tuned for other recipe variations, as I will certainly be making this a lot!

The recipe for Almost No-Knead Bread was developed by Cook’s Illustrated, who in turn was inspired by the NY Times’ No-Knead Bread.
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One Comment leave one →
  1. Young Wifey permalink
    October 5, 2010 9:34 pm

    MMM, the bread looks delicious!

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