Easy Crusty Dutch Oven Bread

Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone AppNo knead breads seems popular lately so I'm "into them."  I discovered and posted about Ciabatta bread a few months ago, then a quicker and easier Cuban loaf, and just this week on a foodie message board, discovered this method which begins like Ciabatta but is cooked in a covered dutch oven.  

Intrigued by the method I had to try it, and am delighted with the result. One would pay $5 or $6 or more for such a loaf at the grocery store, and this can be had for about .50 cents or less! My local farmer's market sells them for $4 or $5.

We were posting about bread machines and recipes for them, when a poster mentioned she wanted a "crusty airy" bread.  We all agreed that type of crust and texture, an artisan type bread, is hard to achieve in a machine.  

Then a poster offered a recipe titled "Almost to Easy Crusty Bread." 
I sleuthed the Internet and found several variations, but it seems to have originally come from a New York Times article, and I found the video from 2007.   The chef used a 500 degree oven, I used 475, and his amounts of salt and yeast were slightly different.  The recipe here is a combination of the poster's recipe and method of what I saw in the video.
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After 12 hours

I didn't have a cast iron dutch oven, but did have a smaller oval shaped, enamel chicken roasting pan with a lid. Several sites said Pyrex, cast iron or enamel would work, and all needed lids.

Note: some sites suggested adding herbs, or cheese, or onions if you are up for experimenting!  I see them in grocery stores and the farmer's market like that.  And wouldn't these be great for a bake sale fundraiser, or booth at a farmer's market!

Easy Crusty Dutch Oven Bread
3 cups all purpose flour
1-1/4 teaspoons salt
1/2 tsp. active/instant yeast
1-1/2 cups water
corn meal for dusting

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Formed Ball on Towel
Folded Side Down
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, salt and yeast. Add water and mix by hand or with a wooden spoon, until a shaggy mixture forms. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and set aside for 12 - 18 hours. Overnight works great. Dough will double or triple in size and be very bubbly and moist.

Pour dough onto a heavily floured surface pat down and fold dough over on itself  2 or 3 times, shaping into a ball and place on middle of towel sprinkled with corn meal, seam side down.  Sprinkle more corn meal on top, then bring ends of towel over top of dough.  

Let rest, 1 - 2 hours until double in size.  

Dutch Oven Crusty Bread, Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone App
Finished 475 Degrees
About 20 minutes before baking, place pan with lid in oven and heat oven to 475.   Carefully remove hot pot from the oven. Slide your hand under towel and flip dough and drop into pan, folded side up. Shake pan a bit to distribute dough, but don't worry if it's not even, it will even out and form while baking. 
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Finished 450 Degrees

Put on lid and return pot to oven for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes remove lid and bake an additional 15 minutes. Remove pan from oven and place bread on a rack to cool. 

Note: can be bake at 450, at same times for lighter color.

Estimated cost: 50 cents or less.

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