Whether used for scooping up your soup, dipping in your favorite sauce or just plain, topped with butter, this crusty artisan bread is ideal to accompany any meal. —Jas
What You'll Need
unbleached, unsifted, all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons
1 1/2 cups
water, room temperature
**Instant yeast doesn't have to be activated ahead of time. I used Active-Dry yeast but activated it with a pinch of sugar and ¼ cup warm water before I added it to other ingredients.
Whisk together flour, salt, sugar and yeast in a very large mixing bowl. The size matters in this instance - dough will rise and you don't want to find it on your counter some 12 hours later.
Add water and mix with a wooden spoon until combined. No need to overwork it, but try not to leave big lumps. The dough will be sticky.
Cover bowl with plastic wrap lightly sprayed with Pam, cooking oil spray. Let it sit for 12-18 hours but DO NOT REFRIGERATE!
Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Place the Dutch oven with the lid in the oven and heat the pot for 30 minutes. Make sure the lid has a metal cap, otherwise if it's plastic it will melt or even worse, blow-up in that hot oven.
As soon as you put the pot in the oven, put the dough on a heavily floured surface and shape it into a ball. The dough is now stickier, so it won't be a perfect ball but that is ok. Do not overwork it as it will deflate the air bubbles. Cover with the plastic wrap that was over the bowl. Let it rest for 30 minutes while your pot is pre-heating.
Carefully remove the pot from the oven. Flour your hands, pick up the dough and drop it carefully into the pot (that is very hot!). Put the lid back on and bake for 30 minutes.
Remove the lid and continue to bake for another 15 minutes. Carefully remove the bread from the pot (I used two metal spatulas) and place on a cooling rack until completely cooled.