Wonderful yet easy artisan bread with a crisp crust. Prep takes just a few minutes with an overnight rise. Baked in a pot with a lid to create a steam oven. Bread can be made with many flavors and variations.
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. OR pot can be placed in cold oven while oven is preheating leave in oven 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.
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 crockpot, 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.
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: You could try using less 1/4 cup less liquid. Or add 1/4 cup additional flour. Make sure your 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 breadstick?
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. Voila! HOWEVER: Not all parchment paper is created equal. I use a silicone coated parchment paper. Regular parchment paper can stick something terrible. Don't chance it.
Regular active yeast can be used in place of the instant or rapid-rise yeast. It will need to be activated in 1/4 cup warm water. Stir and let sit for 5-10 minutes. However, most of the comments I have received state that the rapid raise works the best. You choose. Whisk the flour, salt, and yeast together.