We live right next-door to a bakery famous for it’s sourdough and clam chowder. It smells like bread 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, but surprisingly, we’ve actually only been there a handful of times. You may be saying to yourself “but Christine, how is that possible?? YOU LOVE BREAD!”. Well, I’ll tell you why! It’s because I learned how to bake this ER-MAZING bread two Thanksgivings ago and haven’t stopped since. Now, we only ever go next door if we’re in the mood for sourdough or if we’re cold and need some clam chowder to warm us up. But who are we kidding? It doesn’t get cold in SF.
For this recipe, I use a smaller 5 quart Dutch oven that I got at Macy’s for cheap on Black Friday, and it gives me a nice round boule. My cousin, who showed me this recipe, uses the large 7-1/4 quart Dutch oven and hers turns out flatter since the dough has more room to spread before it starts to form a crust. It’s up to you what you prefer! They both turn out great.
Here’s what you’ll need:
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp yeast (I use Fleischmann’s Active Dry Yeast)
1 1/4 tsp sea salt
1 1/2 cups warm water
Mix together the flour, yeast, and sea salt in a large bowl. Add warm water and mix with your hands until everything is incorporated. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, then cover the plastic wrap (and sides of the bowl if you’re using glass) with a dish towel and leave in a warm place to let the dough rise. I usually put it near our toaster oven or stove because they’re always in use and radiating heat.
You can also flavor your bread with Italian herbs (2 tbsp), or jalapenos and cheddar cheese. Another favorite is whole garlic cloves. I just add these in after the salt and before the water so everything gets evenly incorporated.
After 12 hours (or overnight is fine if it’s particularly warm in your house), put your dutch oven – lid and all – in the oven and crank it up to 450 F. Lay the dish towel flat on the counter and generously dust with flour. Remove dough from the bowl (it will be pretty wet) and place it onto the towel tucking the edges under so it turns into a nice round, boule shape. Dust the top of the dough lightly with flour and lay the plastic wrap on top of it to let it rise again while the oven is warming up.
When the oven reaches 450 F, take the dutch oven out, remove the lid and drop the dough in. Use the dish towel to plop the whole thing in without dirtying your hands. Put the lid back on, return it to the oven, and bake for 45 minutes. Remove the lid and bake another 15 minutes or until the top is nice and crusty. Let it cool for 10-15 minutes – listen to the crust crackling – and then dig in! It’s so delicious when it’s warm with some Kerrygold Irish butter (salted of course!).