I thought I would try my hand at some Dutch oven bread last week and have really been impressed at how easy it is to make.
Looking online I found the widely disseminated Jim Lahey recipe and followed it pretty close. There are numerous discussions and websites on the topic of this simple bread. It does make a perfect loaf with very little effort. I've been using a whole wheat variation by substituting one of the 3 cups of flour with whole wheat. This is great slicing bread and is as beautiful to look at as it is tasty to eat. I haven't tried cooking it outdoors with coals as my heat source yet but will get there I'm sure.
You will need to mix this dough the day before you bake it so it does take a little planning.
The recipe yields one 1 1/2 pound loaf.
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup whole-wheat flour
1/4 teaspoon instant yeast
1 1/4 teaspoon salt
wheat bran for dusting
6 -8 quart cast iron, Pyrex, enamel, or ceramic covered pot.
1. Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl. Add 1 5/8 cup of warm water and stir until blended. Dough will be shaggy and sticky. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough rest for 12 to 18 hrs. at warm room temperature.
2. Dough is ready when its surface is dotted with bubbles. Lightly flour a work surface and place dough on it; sprinkle it with a little more flour and fold it over on itself once or twice. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest about 15 minutes.
3. Using just enough flour to keep dough from sticking to work surface or to your fingers, gently and quickly shape dough into a ball. At this point I dust a sheet of parchment paper with wheat bran (you can use flour or cornmeal) and put the dough seam side down on it. Dust the top of the loaf with wheat bran and let it rise for 2 hrs. When it is ready, dough will be more than double in size and will not readily spring back when poked with a finger.
4.At least a half-hour before dough is ready, heat oven to 450 degrees. Put your covered dutch oven in the oven as it heats. When dough is ready, slice a slit or two across the top of it and carefully (using the parchment paper) place it into the hot pot. Cover it and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the lid and bake for about 15 minutes longer until the loaf is brown. Cool on a rack.