This Dutch Oven Bread is unbelievably simple to make. One bowl, 4 ingredients, several hours, and you too will have delicious crusty bread for dinner (or lunch, or breakfast, or snack!). Don't be intimidated by the directions, they are all very easy. This recipe makes 4 small loaves (6 slices each).
Weigh/Measure the ingredients into the bowl of a stand mixer (or a large 6 quart bowl). If using the stand mixer, mix with the dough hook until you get a ball of dough. Transfer into a large, 6 quart bowl. (If mixing in a bowl, just combine until it forms a slightly sticky dough and you can leave it right in the bowl to rise). To make the dough easier to remove later, you can prepare the bowl with a tiny bit of olive oil, but this is totally optional-I do it when I remember, but it works even if I don't).
Cover the bowl with a towel or piece of plastic wrap. Place in a warm, non-drafty area and forget about it until it doubles -approximately 2 hours.
Place the bowl in the refrigerator. Don't skip this step. Leave it there for 2 hours or up to 7 days! (This recipe is so, so forgiving!).
When you are ready to bake bread, take ¼ of the dough from the bowl and roll it into a ball. It will be about the size of a grapefruit (this recipe makes small loaves). Place it on a piece of parchment paper. Allow the dough to warm to room temperature which will take about an hour.
30 minutes before baking, preheat the oven to 450°F. Place the Dutch Oven inside the oven to warm up. Slice 3 cuts in the top of the dough.
When the dough is warm, and the dutch oven is to temperature, remove the dutch oven from the oven, place the parchment containing the dough into the oven, place the lid on the top. Place covered dutch oven into the oven and bake for 30 minutes.
Remove lid and bake for an additional 10 minutes.
Remove dutch oven from oven. Take parchment containing bread out of dutch oven and place on a cooling rack (I use the grates of my gas range). Allow to cool. Slice and serve with butter, jam, cheese, whatever you like!
This recipe makes 4 small loaves (6-7 slices per loaf), but gives directions for baking 1 loaf at a time. If you are feeding a hungry crowd, you may need to bake several loaves.
The longer your dough sits in the refrigerator, the more flavor (tang) develops. This is a good thing. Feel free to leave your dough in the refrigerator up to 7 days. Just make sure it is covered tightly so it doesn't dry out.
The calories provided are for 1 slice of the bread. This is assuming 6 slices per small loaf.