The secret to baking a great loaf of bread – time. The more time you have, the better the bread you bake.
Dutch Oven French Bread Recipe:
For 1 round loaf of bread take the following:
- 500g bread flour (about 4 cups)
- 390g water (about 1 3/4 cups)
- 11g salt (1 1/3 tsp)
- 1/16 tsp yeast
- 1 dutch oven (I use a glass one, but cast iron or any other oven-safe material will work)
Basic Directions (more details below):
- Mix flour and water lightly, let rest for 15 minutes
- Sprinkle salt/yeast on top and finish mixing
- Let rise, covered, for ~20 hours
- Shape and let rise for 1 more hour
- Preheat oven to 475F with dutch oven + lid inside for 45m
- Bake covered for 30 minutes
- Remove lid, bake for another 20 minutes
- Cool for 15m on rack
- Mix together flour and water in a large bowl or stand mixer, until just mixed but still lumpy
- Let the mixture sit for 15 minutes so that gluten begins to develop
- Sprinkle salt and yeast on top of the flour/water mixture
- Finish combining everything into a smooth dough
- 5 minutes in a stand mixer or a few minutes by hand.
- Note – this will create a very sticky, wet dough – this is what you want. Do not add more flour.
- If you have issues mixing by hand, wet your hands slightly to prevent sticking.
- Put the dough into a large, airtight container (it will rise a lot)
- Cover with a lid or plastic wrap and let rise until the following evening (about 20-24 hours)
- If you only have 12 hours, double the amount of yeast to 1/8 tsp
- The next day, the dough should be 2-2.5x bigger
- Gently tip the dough onto a well floured surface
- Flour your hands and shape the dough by:
- Grabbing an edge of the dough and pulling straight up, then folding it over the opposite side of the dough
- Do this on various edges (3-4 times) until you have a rough ball
- Flour your palms, and then cup the sides of the dough downwards (pretend you’re sliding your palms down the sides of a ball), to shape the dough into a ball
- Cover the ball of dough (I usually flip over my original rising container on top of it)
- Let the dough rise for ~15 min before beginning over preheat
- Preheat your oven @ 475F for 45 minutes with the dutch oven (covered) inside
- By now, it’s been 1 hour since you shaped your dough
- Take the dutch oven out of the oven, take the lid off, and then carefully drop the ball of dough (seam-side up) inside. Be careful not to touch the dutch oven with exposed skin.
- Put the lid back on top and place in over for 30 minutes
- Remove the lid, but keep baking dutch oven inside for another 20 minutes
- Take the bread out of the oven and place onto a cooling rack for 10-15 minutes