So, I haven't been baking at all lately. The cold hard (as opposed to the warm, gooey) truth is that I gained about 75 pounds while pregnant. It's not exactly a number I'm proud of, but it just kind of is what it is. Honestly, I ate pretty well and exercised through the whole thing, so I'm not even sure how it exactly happened, but it did... so oh fucking well.
The good news is twofold:
1. At roughly five months post-partum I am down about 40 pounds and getting plenty of regular exercise.
2. Thanks to my so-called, "maternal fat stores," I've been able to continue sustaining Henry, and that is something I am glad for.
Anyways, all that said, I got this le beautiful Le Creuset dutch oven for last winter's Festivus celebration, and wanted to try the apparent internet phenomenon of a crusty bread baked in a dutch oven.
Only, most of the recipes I found called for something called "instant yeast," (which I refuse to acknowledge based on name alone), and required a 12 hour rise. I was definitely not operating with 12 hours of forethought on this project. So, thanks to some Mormon mommy blogs (it's a whole thing, let me tell you), I was able to figure out a recipe that would only take an afternoon.
The recipe calls for 2 tablespoons of yeast, which pretty much just gives the dough an insanely fast rise time-- about 20 minutes. I think you could definitely reduce the yeast significantly, if you didn't mind waiting a little longer for your dough. Also, the recipe requires you to pre-heat the dutch oven, and the first time I made this recipe I skipped that step... I ended up with a delicious, cake-y bread, which is great, but I was going for crust.
Anyways, without further ado...
Adapted from around the Mormon Blogosphere
Dutch Oven Bread
4-5 Cups All Purpose or Bread Flour
2 T Yeast
2 T Sugar
1 t Salt
2 Cups Warm Water
1. Combine water, yeast, sugar, and salt and allow yeast to begin to bubble.
2. Add 3.5 cups of flour. Knead in additional flour as needed in 1/2 cup increments. Knead dough until it is smooth and comes together in a ball (just a few minutes).
3. Cover dough ball and allow to rise in a warm place for at least 20 minutes.
4. Preheat oven with dutch oven to 400 degrees.
5. Coat the bottom of the dutch oven with flour, transfer dough ball and coat the top with flour.
6. If you are brave you can attempt professional looking slits on the top of the dough... I tried and failed.
7. Bake for 30 minutes covered.
8. Remove lid and bake for an additional 10 minutes, or until brown and crunchy looking.
9. Transfer to cutting board and enjoy with butter and/or jam!