No-Knead Crusty Dutch Oven Bread
Some would argue that the key to a good grilled cheese is – duh – the cheese. I would agree, but I would argue that the bread is of equal importance. I would also argue that a super simple loaf of crusty, no-knead bread is super important. The outer edge is, as the name implies, amazingly crusty while the center is soft and airy and so flavorful!
I sort-of can’t believe that it took me so long to try this bread. My eye has been on it since my friend Audra posted it a while back and, this Christmas, I received a very pretty red cast-iron Dutch oven which now proudly sits on top of my stove at all times. I couldn’t be more in love with a pot than this one. Obviously it took a slew of grilled cheese ideas for this month to finally propel me to take the plunge.
And obviously, we loved this bread. I’m somewhat embarrassed (but not really) to admit that this loaf of bread was gone within 8 hours of baking it. I made a couple of grilled cheese sandwiches with it (perfecto!) and then we snacked on the rest of it with a friend before and during dinner. There is so much flavor packed into only FOUR ingredients. Four.
The steps are simple:
1. You mix the flour, water, yeast and salt in a bowl (above left). The mixture will be wet and shaggy. You then cover and let it sit. And rise. And sit and rise some more.
2. Then it will look bubbly, a little smooth, but still wet (above, center).
3. You turn it out onto a floured surface, shape into a ball (above, right), and then bake it up for less than 45 minutes in a cast-iron Dutch oven (below). And then devour.
The bread was incredible as-is but even a little better with a slather of butter. And even a little better than that with some cheese and other stuff sandwiched between two slices. Bottom line – I’m sold on no-knead crusty bread!
No-Knead Crusty Dutch Oven Bread
Yield: 1 loaf
Total Time: 8-18 hours
Simple and fuss-free artisan bread baked in a Dutch oven. And the best part - no knead!
3 cups all-purpose flour + more for dusting
2 tsp. instant yeast (I used Red Star Platinum Yeast)
1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1 1/2 cups warm water (110 degrees)
Mix the flour, yeast and salt in a large glass bowl. Add the water and stir just until all the dry ingredients are combined. The dough will be wet and shaggy. Cover semi-loosely with plastic wrap and set aside to rise. The dough should rise for a minimum of 8 hours, up to 24 hours. I let this one rise for 18 hours and I kept it on the counter to rise; it more than doubled in volume.
Once the dough has risen, place your covered Dutch oven into the oven and preheat the oven to 450 degrees. While the oven(s) heat up, turn the dough out onto a floured surface with floured hands. The dough will be ultra-sticky, but do your best to shape into a ball without adding too much extra flour. Cover loosely with plastic wrap while the oven heats to 450.
Remove the Dutch oven and (with floured hands) place the dough ball into the Dutch oven. Place the lid on and bake for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, remove the lid and bake for an additional 10 - 15 minutes, until the top of the loaf is golden brown.
Remove from the oven and cool. Or cut while hot because nothing is better than a slice of fresh hot homemade bread!
On the dough rising: I let this one rise for 18 hours and I kept it on the counter to rise; it more than doubled in volume.
On the Dutch oven: I used a round 5-quart cast-iron Dutch oven with an enamel lining. You can use an oval one, larger or smaller, but probably will want at least a 3 or 4 quart size. If you do not have a Dutch oven, you can bake on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper or on a baking stone. Check out the post by Simply So Good (linked below) for more information.
I absolutely did not need any oil in my Dutch oven...the dough didn't stick. If your pot doesn't have an enamel coating, you might need some, but from other posts I have read, oil or added fat isn't necessary.
I used more yeast in this recipe than any others I have found and I did this because I wanted a heavy yeast flavor. If you aren't such a fan, you can decrease it to 1 teaspoon. I also used a lot of salt because I love salt and I wanted a very flavorful loaf but if you have concerns, play around with the amount until you get it right for you.