Crusty Bread

                                

Fresh bread has always been one of my absolute favorite things in the universe. A few weeks ago, I decided that I want to get really good at making my own bread. Not only is homemade bread an entirely different animal from the store bought stuff in terms of taste, but also in terms of ingredient quality and overall nutrition. One of the biggest benefits of making your own bread is that you can decide exactly what you do and do not want to go into it. In my search for bread recipes, I’ve found that the most successful recipes often include only a few ingredients: flour, yeast, water, salt…after that, you can really play with it and add whatever you like!

This crusty bread recipe is shockingly easy and has the look and taste of a professionally made bread. I was truly shocked at how beautiful it was when it came out of the oven! The dough does have to rise over night, so make sure you have allotted the necessary time before diving into the recipe. A note about the baking dish: I am lucky enough to have a father who owns a Le Creuset pot (the ideal baking dish for this recipe). However, I have read that other enamel-coated cast iron dishes will work, too. Play around and let me know if something else works!

Crusty Bread

3 cups all purpose flour
1 3/4 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon yeast
1 1/2 cups water (I make my water slightly warm and this seems to work best)

1) In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, salt, and yeast.
2) Add the water and stir until a rough, sticky mixture forms. (I use a large spoon for this step- the wet dough is much too sticky for a whisk!!!)
3) Cover bowl with plastic wrap and set aside for 12 – 18 hours. I have read that it can sit for up to 24 hours if you need more time!
4) Heat oven to 450 degrees.
5) While the oven is heating, prepare your work surface. You will need to heavily flour whatever surface you choose to work on.
6) Once the oven is heated, place your cast iron pot with the lid on in the oven and heat the pot for 30 minutes.
7) While the put is heating, pour the dough onto your floured surface and shape it into a ball. Cover the ball with plastic wrap and let set while the pot is heating.
8) Once heated, remove the hot pot from the oven and drop in the dough. Cover with the lid and return to oven for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes remove the lid and bake an additional 15 minutes. Remove bread from oven and place on a cooling rack to cool.

This is the easiest bread recipe in the world. Once I got the basic, plain version down, I started to play. You can add whatever seasonings or fillings you want to this recipe (I added Monterey Jack cheese and it turned out PHENOMENAL!). Once winter is over and my fresh herbs are in season, I’m hoping to try some new combinations. What are your flavor combinations?

Once again, I did not take pictures of each step of this recipe. HOWEVER, you are in luck! The recipe I am using came from this woman’s fabulous blog and she photographs each step! Check her out!

http://www.simplysogood.com/2010/03/crusty-bread.html?m=1

Happy Baking!

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