The first time I made this bread, I was so surprised and excited. I made this! It looks like something from a bakery! And it was… easy! I always forget how good simple food can be. There are only four ingredients, and the only thing tricky about this recipe is remembering to start it the day before. Give yourself a full day in advance of eating the bread, and you won’t be sorry. There is very little yeast added, but the slow-rise lets the flavors develop. Cooking it in a hot dutch oven gives you the crunchy crust while the inside is soft and flavorful. It’s one of my favorite breads to make. It is perfect with a great bowl of soup!
What you need:
- 4 c. flour
- 1/2 t. instant yeast
- 2 t. salt
- 2 c. water
- 2 T. olive oil
- 2 large bowls
- plastic wrap
- flour duster
- cotton (not terry cloth) kitchen towel or cloth napkin
- 3- or 4-quart oven-safe covered pot (I use a cast iron dutch oven)
Time: about 24 hours
Freezeable: I have never frozen this, mostly because I feel that the crunch would be somewhat lost in the crust.
Serves: Makes one 12-inch boulle. Feeds 8 adults.
Multiplying the recipe: No, make each batch separately.
Start the process 24 hours before you want to eat the bread.
Stir together flour, yeast, and salt in a very large bowl. Stir in the water. Transfer the dough to a bowl greased with the olive oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Let the dough rise for about 18 hours.
When ready, the dough will be covered with bubbles. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured counter. Fold the dough over itself once or twice. Sprinkle the top with flour. Cover it again with plastic wrap and let it rest for 15 minutes.
Lightly coat a clean cotton kitchen towel or silicone mat with flour. Gently form the shaggy dough into a ball and transfer it to the prepared surface. Sprinkle the top with flour. Cover the dough with another cotton towel or plastic wrap and let it rise until more than doubled in size, about two hours.
At least 30 minutes before the dough is ready, put the oven-safe pot with the cover in the oven and preheat the oven (with the pot inside) to 450F. When the dough is ready, carefully remove the hot pot from the oven and gently transfer the dough into the pot. Don’t worry if it doesn’t land in a neat circle – it will straighten out as it bakes. Cover the pot and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the cover and bake for an additional 20-30 minutes or until crust is browned and the loaf sounds hollow when tapped. Remove the bread with a spatula to a cooling rack for at least 30 minutes before slicing.