I’m not much on baking. I prefer cooking because it’s a bit less symphony and a bit more jazz concert to me. But I do occasionally bake, and when I do I try to find easy and preferably un-messy ways to do it. This recipe for a round loaf of bread is perfect because it’s easy cleanup, low skill level, and delicious. This loaf is perfect for accompanying from a full meal to a simple charcuterie board. Without further ado:
- Cast iron, ceramic, or enameled Ducth Oven with a lid;
- Large mixing bowl (I use the bowl from my stand mixer);
- Parchment paper;
- Nonstick spray or canola oil;
- Non-metal spatula
- 3¼ cups of all purpose flour, sifted;
- 1½ cups of warm water (zap it in the microwave for 45 seconds);
- 1 packet (active dry or instant (should be 2¼ teaspoons));
- ½ tablespoon of sea salt or kosher salt;
- 2 tablespoons of black pepper;
Step 1: Make sure the water is warm; I do this by microwaving it for about 45 seconds. In a large mixing bowl, mix the warm water, yeast, and salt. If using active dry yeast, give it about 5 minutes or so to bloom (this is why I prefer instant yeast). Once the yeast has bloomed, stir until the water is a consistent brown opaque color.
Step 2: Add in the flour and black pepper and stir with a non-metal spatula until the dough has come together into something solid (see the picture). If you stir and the dough still looks too dry, add more warm water in ½ tablespoon increments, stirring between each pour, until the dough is the consistency it should be. When the dough has formed, cover the bowl with a tea towel and allow to rise for 2–2½ hours. Pro tip: If you’re not using your microwave for a while, let the bread rise in there because the inside of the microwave will generally be a consistent warm temperature.
Step 3: After the bread has been rising for about an hour and 15 minutes, preheat your oven to 450°F and place the Dutch Oven, covered, in the oven to preheat as well. You want the Dutch oven to be very hot when you add the bread.
Step 4: When the bread has been rising for about two hours, place a piece of parchment paper on your counter and add a thin layer of flour to it. I will use about a 1½ tablespoons or so of flour to coat the parchment. Turn the dough out onto the parchment paper and manipulate the dough by manipulating the parchment paper itself until the dough is a rough ball shape. Remove the Dutch oven from the oven and spray with a thin layer of non-stick cook spray (aerosolized canola oil works best here because it also helps season your cast iron Dutch oven).
Step 5: Add the dough to the Dutch oven, cover, and place in the oven. Bake for 35 minutes covered, then uncover and continue baking for 10–15 minutes.
Step 6: When the bread is baked through, remove it from the Dutch oven to a cutting board and allow to rest for at least 15 minutes before slicing. Enjoy with a bit of butter or an olive oil based dip.
Pro Tips and Other Information
Be sure to manipulate the bread as little as possible. The whole point of this dough is that it’s easy because it doesn’t require kneading. If you do knead this dough too much you could end up with a flat, unappealing loaf that will look like a stack of Frisbees.
Also, many other flavors can be added to this bread, but be sure the added ingredients are dry. I add garlic powder, onion powder, poppy seeds, and sesame seeds to make “everything bagel” bread sometimes. Other times I add garlic powder, parsley, and fresh basil to make a more Italian style bread. Almost any dry ingredient goes, but if you add too much wet stuff or anything that is fatty like butter or heavy in protein like eggs, this recipe will not work because it is not intended for enriched doughs.