Homemade Dutch Oven Bread
Makes 1 loaf
600 grams all-purpose flour (about 4 cups, lightly packed and leveled off)
2 cups lukewarm water (between 90˚-110˚F)
1½ tablespoons salt
1 envelope dry active yeast
Stir yeast packet into water and allow yeast to bloom. (A light foam should appear on top of the water after about 5 minutes. This means the yeast is alive and active.)
In a large bowl, mix flour and salt by hand. Once incorporated, create a small well in the middle and pour in the water/yeast mixture.
Mix by hand, wetting your working hand before mixing so the dough doesn’t stick to your fingers. The water and flour should come together and a form rough dough that pulls away from the sides of the bowl. If the dough is too sticky, add more flour in small increments, about 1 tablespoon at a time. If the dough is too dry, add more water, 1 tablespoon at a time. Once the dough has come together, cover it and let it rise until it doubles in size (about 1.5 to 2 hours).
Uncover the dough and give it a few pokes with your finger. If the dough has risen properly it should indent under the pressure of your fingers and slowly deflate.
Using your hand or a rubber spatula fold the dough. Starting from the rim of the bowl, work the dough loose from the sides and fold it up and towards the center of the bowl. Turn the bowl 90 degrees, and repeat until all the dough has been pulled from the sides and folded towards the center. Once finished, cover and allow the dough to continue to rise for another 1.5-2 hours.
Once the dough has doubled in size again, gently remove it from the bowl onto a lightly floured surface and sprinkle a small amount of flour on top of the dough. Using your hands, begin to shape the loaf. Fold the dough under itself several times to form a ball, then claps together the seams of dough underneath. Place the dough seam-side down in a clean bowl that has been coated with olive oil and flour. Cover and let rise for 1 hour.
Meanwhile, take a 6-quart dutch oven (or heavy cooking pot with oven-safe lid) and place it inside the oven. Preheat the oven to 450˚F/230˚C and allow it to heat up with the pot inside for 45 minutes.
Remove the pot from the oven and place it on a trivet or heat-safe surface. (Be careful! It’ll be VERY HOT.) Turn the proofed dough over onto a lightly floured surface and carefully place it inside of the pot. Cover with the lid and return the pot to the oven.
Bake at 450˚F/230˚C for 45 minutes,removing the lid for the last 15 minutes.
Remove bread from pot and allow to cool for 10 minutes before cutting.
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