I've been having a lot of fun cooking with my new dutch oven, trying old recipes in it and experimenting with new ones! One thing I was dying to make was dutch oven bread - I saw a wonderful post about it here that directed me to this recipe from Mother Earth News. It looked so good, but the 8-12 hour rising time was a little but much for me because I'm used to making a quicker version (I cut the recipe out of the newspaper a long time ago... it's called "New England Bread" but I haven't found the same recipe online).
So I decided to combine my dough recipe with the basic baking method used on Mother Earth News and the results were wonderful! It's light and fluffy on the inside, crusty and chewy on the outside.
You will need:
5-6 cups of flour
2 Tablespoons of dry yeast
2 Tablespoons of sugar
2 cups of warm water
1 1/2 Tablespoons of salt
Put the yeast and sugar in a large bowl, then mix in the warm water and allow it to proof (if you haven't proofed yeast before you can find the basics of it here). Add 3 cups of flour and the salt to the yeast mixture and mix it well. Stir in the remaining flour until your have a nice dough that isn't too sticky. Flour your hands and knead it for 4 or 5 minutes (I knead the dough right in the bowl to minimize messiness). Form the dough into a ball in the bottom of the bowl, cover the bowl with a damp tea towel, and let the dough rise for 20 minutes.
While the dough is rising, preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit (204 Celsius) with the dutch oven inside as it heats. When the dough is ready (it should have doubled in size after 20 minutes!) you can lightly flour the top and bottom (I put flour on a tea towel, turn the dough onto the flour, then sprinkle some more on top) and then put the dough in the warmed dutch oven (be careful because the cast iron will be quite hot). Place the lid on top and bake your bread for 30 minutes. Remove the lid from the dutch oven and continue to bake it for 10-15 minutes more until is lovely and brown.
Let your bread cool before cutting in to it.