Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Dutch Oven Bread

My dear friend Danica and I met while working as college students for the Bureau of Land Management. Just typing that sentence made me feel really old. Anyways, spending 8 hours a day in the same cube as someone could be really annoying-- but luckily we bonded pretty quickly. Much of that bond was over 1) food 2) food blogs 3) our newly found love of Pinterest. Even though we don't work together anymore, we still like to share recipes and I am so thankful that she made this bread to have with a dinner I cooked us one night (I use the term "cook" pretty loosely here-- I grilled some chicken and put it on top of frozen pre-made gnocci). Bella, Danica, & I ate the whole loaf and I feel like I could have eaten the whole thing myself-- it was THAT good, especially hot out of the oven. Dani got the recipe from her neighbor and then I begged her to give it to me. I get the feeling its the kind of recipe that gets passed around pretty quickly. I think a basic bread recipe is a staple for any cook and this will definitely be mine. I didn't really know what to call the bread and when I asked Danica what type it was she said "I dunno...artisan?" Haha. So we'll leave it at that.

Here's an unflattering picture that I'm pretty sure we both hate but is somehow our only picture together? It was on a work trip and detoured into a hiking/cave exploration.

Four ingredients.. you couldn't ask for anything more simple! Salt, Flour, Yeast, Water. If you're wondering why there is a weird black thing coming out of my bookcase-- it's a hand pump for my exercise ball. I usually waste so much effort pumping it up that I'm much too exhausted to use the exercise ball for actual exercise, anyway. But that is neither here nor there.

Measure out 4.5 cups of flour. I use a knife to level it out because my scooping is pretty wild.

Are you scared of working with yeast? I was. I don't know why, it's just another ingredient you mix in like anything else [except that there's some crazy chemical reaction that takes place, yadda yadda..] but for all intents and purpose, THE SAME. You find it in the baking aisle by the flour. Who would've thought? Bonus: it's really cheap.

Add 3/4 tsp. of yeast to the flour.

Pretend there's a picture of me adding salt here. Sometimes I forget things. Sometimes.

Last but not least, add your 2.25 cups of water and gently stir to combine. How hard is it to take a picture of pouring water with an iphone? Pretty hard. [Well, I guess I could have tried more than one take but you know... effort.]

Danica says she uses her hand to "stir until it becomes a big shaggy mess." I think that sums it up. Obviously, I did not use my hands. But I did think about it, for a minute.

After the ingredients combine, stop stirring! You just want to mix until it barely holds together. Over-mixing kills baby seals. It's very sad, so please don't do it!

See? A shaggy mess. Now cover this up and leave it alone for the next 18 hours!

This is what I came back to the next day. Looks.. foamy. Then, I got it out and shaped it into a ball and left it on my cutting board until ready to bake.

It wasn't a really round ball... Okay, it's a square :( Put your dutch oven in for awhile to get it nice and hot, then plop the dough in and cover it with the lid. Let bake 30 minutes with the lid, then about 15 without.

Trust me when I say, this smells amazing. Like so amazing I burn my tongue because I can't wait for it to  cool. Every. Time.

Served best warm with some nice melty butter :) Or margarine, if you're insane.