Homemade Crusty Bread

This was one of my Thanksgiving breads this year, and everyone enjoyed it. It’s crusty on the outside and dense and wonderful on the inside. Super easy to make ( or I never would have tempted it) requires only a small amount of ingredients and such a beautiful loaf of bread you would think it came from the bakery.

Here is the basic ingredients and details:

Crusty Bread

3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 3/4 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon yeast
1 1/2 cups water

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, salt and yeast. Add water and mix until a shaggy mixture forms. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and set aside for 12 – 18 hours. Overnight works great. Heat oven to 450 degrees. When the oven has reached 450 degrees place a cast iron pot with a lid in the oven and heat the pot for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, pour dough onto a heavily floured surface and shape into a ball. Cover with plastic wrap and let set while the pot is heating. Remove hot-pot from the oven and drop in the dough. Cover and return to oven for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes remove the lid and bake an additional 15 minutes. Remove bread from oven and place on a cooling rack to cool.

This picture is the dough resting while the pot was heating

Bread coming out of oven

In addition to the basic white loaf I also made a Cranberry Orange Walnut Loaf that I think was my favorite. To the ingredients listed above I added 3/4 cup Crazins, zest from one Orange and 1/2 cup chopped walnuts. Mix as directions state above cover with plastic and let set for the 12-18 hours. I believe it’s the iron pot that makes such a wonderful crust and texture to the bread. My next loaf I am going to experiment with, Rosemary, Kalama olives and parmesan cheese doesnt that sound wonderful? oh and throw in a little lemon zest. Wow the add in’s can be endless.I found this recipe on Pinterest (go figure) and I am going to list some of the tips for making this bread from her post.

Thanks to: http://simplysogood.blogspot.com

Q: Do I have to use an enamel covered cast iron pan?

A: NO. You can use anything that can take the heat. The following have been used that I know of:
Clay pots with lids, Pizza stone with a bowl to cover the bread, insert from a crock pot, Pyrex baking dish with a lid, stainless steel pot with a lid, baking dish covered with aluminum foil, old cast iron dutch oven.
Q: Do I have to use unbleached flour?

A: I always use unbleached flour. You can try bleached flour.

Melina: I used unbleached flour.♥
Q: Can I use self rising flour?

A: I don’t know. I would just stick to all-purpose.
Q: What size is my pan?

A: My smallest pan is 5.5 quart. You can use as small as a 3 quart.
Q: What type of yeast do I use?

A: I use SAF instant yeast. Any yeast should work.
Q: Why is my bread turning out flat?

A: I don’t know. You could try using less 1/4 cup less liquid. Or add a bit more flour. Make sure you dough appears to be dry when you first mix it. It will have more moisture during the rising time.
Q: Can my dough sit out longer than 18 hours? Does it HAVE to be between 12-18 hours?

A: I have let some dough sit as long as 24 hours and the bread was beautiful.
Q: Have you tried Gluten-free?

A: No. I’m still waiting for someone to venture into the realm of Gluten-free. If you try it, let everyone know.
Q: Do I have to grease or oil the pan? Will my bread stick?

A: No you don’t need to grease the pan. I have never had the bread stick when using a cast iron pot. I haven’t tried anything else. The best way to be certain that the bread won’t stick is to form the loaf on a sheet of parchment paper and lift the bread into the pan using the sides of the parchment. Leave the paper in the pan. It’s won’t burn. When the bread has baked, just lift the sides of the parchment out of the pan.

I hope everyone had a wonderful and safe Thanksgiving. It is now time to shift my brain to Christmas, such a busy time of year I think the next time I bake one of these loaf’s I will do several and pass them out for gifts. I know a few people that will love these!

Ciao for now.

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