1/2teaspoondry yeastactive dry or highly active dry work best
1 1/2cupslukewarm water
Special cookware needed:
Dutch oven or any large oven-safe dish/bowl and lid*
In a large bowl, stir together the flour, salt and yeast. Stir in water using a wooden spoon until the mixture forms a shaggy but cohesive dough. Do not over-work the dough. The less you "work" it, the more soft, fluffy air pockets will form.
Cover bowl tightly with plastic wrap. Let dough sit at room temperature for 8-24 hours*. Dough will bubble up and rise.
After dough is ready, preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Place your Dutch oven, uncovered, into the preheated oven for 30 minutes.
While your Dutch oven preheats, turn dough onto a well-floured surface. With floured hands, form the dough into a ball. Cover dough loosely with plastic wrap and let rest.
After the 30 minutes are up, carefully remove Dutch oven. With floured hands, place the bread dough into it. (You can put a piece of parchment under the dough if your Dutch oven isn’t enamel coated.)
Replace cover and bake for 30 minutes covered. Carefully remove cover and bake for 7-15 minutes* more, uncovered.
Carefully remove bread to a cutting board and slice with a bread knife.
Uncovered baking time depends on your oven. In my oven, the bread only needs 7 minutes uncovered until crusty and golden brown, but this can vary. Just keep an eye on it!
Preheating your Dutch oven to 450 degrees F will not damage it, or the knob on top.
I’ve let this dough rise anywhere between 8-24 hours and it has baked up beautifully. Just make sure it has risen and appears to “bubble” to the surface.
There’s no need to grease the Dutch oven/baking dish/pot. My bread has never stuck to the pot. If you are concerned though, put a piece of parchment paper under your dough before placing into your pot.
I do not recommend using whole wheat flour or white whole wheat flour in this recipe. The resulting bread will be very dense, and not as fluffy and delicious.
I used a 5.5 quart enameled cast iron Le Creuset pot, but you can use any large oven-safe dish and cover. All of these also work: a baking dish covered with aluminum foil, crockpot insert, stainless steel pot with a lid, pizza stone with an oven-safe bowl to cover the bread, and old cast iron Dutch oven.
Add any mix-ins you like - herbs, spices, dried fruit, chopped nuts and cheese all work well. I recommend adding them into the initial flour-yeast mixture to avoid over-working the mix-ins into the dough. The less you "work" it, the more you're encouraging soft, fluffy air pockets to form!