In our house there is nothing quite like the importance of bread to keep us on track for the week. Every few days I throw together these 4 simple ingredients in a mixer with a dough hook and throw it in the oven the next morning. This has not only saved us money but filled our bread need without any chemicals or seed oils! It has a sourdough texture without a super sour taste or the need to feed the starter every day!
3 1/4 cups (425 grams) Bread Flour (I use King Arthur. Other flours don't work as well I've discovered).
2 teaspoons fine sea salt
1/2 teaspoon active dry yeast
1 1/2 cups warm water (about 110°F)
Mix the dough. Whisk together the dry ingredients, add the warm water, then stir everything together until no flour streaks remain. The dough will look quite loose and shaggy and won’t hold its shape well — which is ok. I've tried this by hand and in a mixer and found that not only is a mixer with a dough hook easier, but much better texture in the long run.
Let the dough rise. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or beeswrap, and let it rest at room temperature for about 12 to 18 hours. The longer it rests, the more flavor and better texture it will have. In a pinch I will combine the ingredients at night and bake it the next morning about 8 hours later.
Shape the dough. Transfer the dough to a well-floured surface. Form the dough into a round ball by folding the dough on top of itself. (Just gently pull the outer edges up and press them into the center of the dough a few times until the dough feels a bit tighter and holds its shape.) If the dough is sticky or feels too loose at any point, just keep sprinkling on extra flour as needed. Lightly flour the top of the dough ball, and then carefully flip it upside-down onto a piece of parchment paper, so that the smooth side is on top. Use your hands to shape the ball into an even circle. Lightly flour the top of the dough ball, then loosely cover it with plastic wrap or beeswrap to rest while the oven heats.
Heat the oven and Dutch oven. Place the Dutch oven inside of your oven, then set oven to 450°F. Wait for 20-30 minutes for the oven to heat, while the dough continues to rest. (If the dough rises and spreads out more than you would like during this time, just use your hands to shape it into a tighter ball once more just before baking.)
Bake. Very carefully, use oven mitts to remove the Dutch oven from the oven. (It will be extremely hot – be careful!) Lift the edges of the parchment to carefully transfer the dough ball (along with the parchment) to the Dutch oven. Cover with the Dutch oven lid and bake for 30 minutes. Then carefully remove the lid and bake for 10-20 more minutes, until the crust of the bread reaches your desired level of doneness (as light or as deeply golden brown and crispy as you prefer).
Serve. Remove from the oven, uncover, and then carefully lift up the edges of the parchment to transfer the bread to a wire cooling rack. I have found that if I put the lid of the Dutch Oven for about 30 minutes, the condensation will soften the crust if you like it less crispy. Otherwise, cool for a few minutes, then slice, serve and enjoy!