Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Baking up Bread with My Wooden Shoes On

Warm cozy soup - that's just what you want on a cool fall day - right?  Of course it is (I'll answer that for you). What goes great with cozy warm soup?  Warm fresh bread, hot out of the oven.  It was a Sunday afternoon this fall I decided we probably should have some bread with the soup I was planning to make.  I quickly tossed it together and let it rise on the counter as we left to take a family walk to a new park.
Why did I decide to make my own bread?  We shop at Aldi - all of their bakery fresh bread?  Tastes like sourdough.  Now that's awesome if you actually like sourdough - I do not.  French Bread and Italian Bread?  Completely different things!  At Aldi?  Basically the same loaves of sourdough in different packages. Bah... so... fresh baked bread seemed important.
As we went for our walk, we decided to walk through a local church that has a neat log building so I could take a few pictures, then passed a few businesses on our way to the park.  One of those businesses was a Chinese food restaurant.  Oh the smells coming out of that place were amazing.  I ran in and got a take out menu.  The closer we got to the park, the more convinced we were that soup was off the menu, it got replaced by Chinese food.  So sitting at the park we called in our ordered.  On our way home - we walked and picked it up.  Got it home, rolled up our sleeves... and remembered.  We'd gotten food at this place before.  It was "Eh" at best.  Why do we try new food places?  We have good solid take-out places, yet we go out in the world and test the waters.  Why?  Of course I'm kidding - mostly.
What about the bread?  Oh I baked it and we enjoyed the smell of fresh bread, then ate it the next night with dinner.  Bronwyn - lover of all things carb - loved it.  I love this type of bread - bakes inside the Dutch oven, which causes an issue when you also want to make soup in the Dutch oven.  I see an addition to my Wish List….
Dutch Oven Artisan Bread
4-4 1/2 cups bread flour (or a combo of bread flour and AP flour if you realize you don't have that much bread flour)
2 Tablespoons yeast
2 Tablespoons sugar
2 cups warm water
1 1/2 Tablespoons salt
Proof yeast by combining the yeast and the sugar in the bottom of the bowl of a stand mixer and then pour the warm water over it. Whisk it by hand lightly. Let is rest for 10 minutes until it is foamy.
In a separate bowl mix 3 cups of the flour with the salt.
Add the flour mixture one cup at a time to the yeast mixture in the stand mixer attached with the dough hook. The dough will start to come together, but still be sticky. Add in the rest of the flour in 1/2 cup increments until the dough completely comes together in a ball. Let the mixer knead the dough for a few minutes. Then dump the dough onto the counter and continue to knead for about five minutes, or until the dough is smooth.
Place the dough in a greased bowl and cover the top with a lightly damp kitchen towel. Let is rise for 20-30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees with the Dutch oven inside.
Do not punch down the dough.
Simply take out the ball of dough, that should have risen. Lightly coat both the bottom and the top of the loaf with flour. Carefully remove the Dutch oven from the oven and just as carefully drop the dough in the center of the Dutch oven. Cut three slits in the top of the loaf. That will give it that artisan top.
Cook for 30 minutes covered. Then take off the lid and cook for another 7-10 minutes, until the top is golden and crunchy looking.
Remove from the Dutch oven onto a cutting board. Let it cool slightly.

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