In case you haven’t guessed, I love bread. I especially love fresh from the oven, homemade bread. While at Langlois Culinary Crossroads in New Orleans for cooking school, I learned just how easy it is to make delicious, wonderful bread at home. From scratch. Even though it officially takes two days, I promise it is really worth it.
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 and 3/4 teaspoon Kosher salt (this is key. If you use regular iodized salt, it will be salty.)
1/2 teaspoon yeast (I used one packet)
1 and 1/2 cups water
The most important ingredient is a clay or cast iron dutch oven or clay pot with a tight-fitting lid. We found this one from Lodge on sale and couldn’t be happier.
Wish together the flour, salt and yeast in your favorite mixing bowl. Add the water and mix until a “shaggy mixture” forms. As Chef Matt said when showing us how to make this, it should look like a wet dog.
The next day (or 12 hours later) place the dutch oven and lid in a 450 degree oven so the pot and the oven are heating at the same time. Turn out the dough on a heavily floured surface and shape into a ball. When the oven (and the dutch oven) reach 450 degrees, place the dough in the center of a piece of parchment paper and put the whole thing in the dutch oven with the parchment paper side down.
Cover with the lid and either return to the oven, or slide the wire rack back in and close the oven door (I find the second way to be the easiest rather than trying to lift the super hot dutch oven in and out of the oven more than once). Cook covered for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, remove the lid and reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees. Bake for an additional 30 minutes. Remove the bread from the oven and place on a cooling rack. (This means take it out of the dutch oven.)
There are directions for stuffed bread, but I haven’t tried it yet. I want to get the basics down first. In my first few trials (and errors!) I learned valuable lessons, like the difference between iodized and kosher salt, that sometimes the times are off and it is ok to cook bread a little longer to get a more golden crust. If you do accidentally use iodized salt and the bread is a bit on the salty side, treat it like a bagel and just don’t salt the eggs for the bagel, egg and cheese sandwich (it evens out in the end). It’s been hard not to make this every single weekend since we returned!