My Experience Baking A Dutch Oven Bread For The First Time
On a daily basis, I, like many others, find myself mindlessly watching Tasty videos and admiring whatever creations the editors at BuzzFeed cooked or baked. Although we all appreciate and feel satisfied from seeing the aesthetically pleasing culinary content, we never actually end up recreating these recipes for ourselves.
Approximately two years ago, I came across a Homemade Dutch Oven Bread video and was completely fascinated by the perfect look and texture of this simple bread. I knew that I could recreate this recipe easily since I had my KitchenAid stand mixer with me to tackle any bread, baked good, or cream concoction. I never ended up following the recipe at the time because I didn't feel like I was ready to tackle yeast yet or the task of baking bread.
I believe that in order to become a good baker, one must go through the following phases:
1) Gain exposure to baking from making boxed cupcakes/cakes/packaged cookies.
2) Discover joy from baking after creating baked treats from scratch.
3) Master creating all baked goods, including the hardest: bread.
I find that bread is the hardest baked good to nail because it's not a sweet dessert. It's either a savory appetizer or there to support an entrée. It also includes yeast, which is difficult to bloom because the water temperature has to be warm otherwise the yeast will die or never activate. There is also a specific time range when the yeast is activated, and if all the ingredients are not added in the allotted time, then your bread will not rise.
For the last two years, I have always gone back and watched this Tasty recipe in hopes to recreate it some day. A few months ago, I had been baking more often than I'd ever been before as I was inspired by numerous Bon Appétit videos and was hoping to recreate some of the overpriced baked goods I've eaten in NYC to save some money. While shopping around at Trader Joe's, I noticed three packets of yeast on sale for 99 cents and decided that I would finally make that Dutch Oven Bread.
The next day, after finally deciding to recreate the viral video, I prepared all the ingredients to make my delicious bread. Unfortunately, I did not have my stand mixer with me as it's back home, but thankfully this recipe requires a spatula and your own hands only. It took me a total of seven hours to create my Dutch Oven Bread. I had never kneaded anything and was worried that I was somehow messing up the entire recipe because at one point the dough would not fall off my hands as it was supposed to.
Nevertheless, I knew that I succeeded as my entire apartment smelled like fresh bread as it was rising in the oven. I had never been happier than the moment I opened my Le Creuset to see the most gorgeous golden brown crust. I let it cool and cut it up into several loafs. Pure bliss.
Photos by Sophie Park
I was so excited about my creation that I made avocado toast out of it. The loaf was perfectly crispy on the outside but had a pillowy texture once you bit into it.
Photos by Sophie Park
As a result of baking a Dutch Oven Bread, I'm beginning to consider myself an experienced baker and am now motivated to bake harder breads like baguettes and maybe a croissant? (Probably won't happen since those bad boys take at least two days to make).
Here is the wonderful recipe that I used to create this bread with some modifications of the original:
- 5 cups of All Purpose Flour
- 2 cups of lukewarm water
- 1.5 to 2 tablespoons of salt (depending on personal preference)
- 1 packet of dry active yeast
1. Pour the stir packet of yeast into the 2 cups of lukewarm water and let yeast bloom for 5 minutes (you'll know it's done once the surface foams).
2. In a large bowl, mix 4 cups of All Purpose Flour and salt by hand or whisk. Then create a well in the middle to pour the yeast mixture.
3. Mix the flour, salt, and yeast mixture by hand until it creates a rough dough that no longer sticks to the sides of the bowl (Tip: wet hands before mixing the dough prevent it from sticking to hands).
4. If the dough is sticky, then gradually add half of the remaining 1 cup of flour or if it is too dry, gradually add one tablespoon of water.
5. After your dough is finished, cover the bowl with a cloth and let it rise for 2 hours.
6. Using your rubber spatula, peel the dough off from the sides and fold it upwards toward the center of the bowl and repeat until all sides have been pulled towards the center.
7. Once again, cover the bowl with a cloth and let it rise for another 2 hours.
8. Flour the surface where you'll be kneading the dough with 1/4 cup of flour and gently remove it from the bottom onto your work space.
9. Sprinkle the last remainder of flour on top of the dough and knead, shape, and tuck the dough under itself to form a ball.
10. Place the dough inside the large bowl and let it rise for an hour.
11. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.
12. Place your dutch oven or heavy oven safe cooking pot covered with a lid inside the oven and let bake for 45 minutes.
13. Remove the pot from the oven and place on a heat safe surface.
14. Carefully remove the lid (be aware that it is extremely hot), put it aside, and place your proved dough inside the dutch oven.
15. Sprinkle a tablespoon of flour on top of the dough and put the lid back on the pot.
16. Place the pot back into your oven for 30 minutes then remove the lid for the last 15 minutes at 450 degrees Fahrenheit.
17. Remove the bread from the pot after taking it out of the oven and let it cool for 15 minutes before cutting.