Now that fall is finally here, it's time to warm up your oven! This is the bread recipe that changed my life. I used to reserve making bread for special occasions when I felt like doing all that work- now I throw this recipe together any old day I want fresh, crusty european style bread to go with dinner!
Previously I posted this as a link to the recipe blog I got it from, but then someone asked me to write up my version. It was also one of my first posts so a few of the blog readers may not have read it. Anyway, I hate to let people know how easy this is because they are so impressed when you make it for them- but now you know!
You will need:
3 cups flour
1 tsp. salt
1 scant tsp. SAF instant yeast (It comes in a big white package, don't use Fleischmann's).
1 1/3 c. hot tap water
Mix together the dry ingredients, stir well. Add the water, stir with a spoon until a shaggy ball of dough forms. Cover, let rise 4-7 hours. Punch down and knead 10 times in the bowl. Spray a sheet of parchment paper or foil with cooking spray. Shape dough into a round loaf and set on paper/foil. Spread a little flour on the surface, then make 3 little slashes across the top. Let rise 30-40 min.
In the mean time, you will need to heat a heavy pot with a well-fitting lid in a 500º oven. Like a dutch oven that you would cook a roast in. (I got a great one after watching the D.I. for awhile!) Let it heat while the bread rises, 30 min. When dough is risen, remove the lid from your super hot pot, take the parchment or foil by the corners, and pop the whole thing in the pot. Return lid.
Reduce heat to 425º. Let bake 30 min. Remove lid. Bake another 10-15 min. till dark golden.
The lid traps the steam in the pot, making that thick, crunchy crust and chewy inside. MMMmm. let it cool if you can. We can never wait that long when it comes out of the oven, but it goes great with soups, salads, pasta, almost any dinner. And it makes great panini type sandwiches, or toast the next day.