Saturday, January 7, 2012

Back to Bread

One of the things I plan to do in my retirement (which starts in fourteen more school days, but who's counting?) is to get back to baking homemade bread more often.  Used to bake it a lot; not so much in recent years.

It's hard for a home baker to produce bread with a good crunchy crust. It requires steam, you see, to form a good crust.

But thanks to the Internet and cooking blogs, I recently discovered Dutch oven bread baking. Although this article describes a no-knead bread that is allowed to rise slowly, I thought I'd try the baking method with a conventional kneaded bread recipe.

Today, I experimented with a version of Mill Hollow bread, tweaked a tad to my own taste and ingredients on hand. After mixing and kneading and allowing it to rise once, I baked one loaf in a preheated cast iron Dutch oven, as described in the NY Times article. This is the bread pictured on the left in the photo above.  

The second loaf, pictured on the right, I let rise and then baked it in the usual way. Exact same dough, just different baking methods.

The Dutch oven bread was a hit. Crusty and nicely grained. Really good. I see many more loaves baked this way in my future. Maybe I even need to buy a second cast iron Dutch oven, to bake two loaves at once.

If you like to bake and are fond of crusty bread, give this method a try. It's really good. Happy baking!