OMG, this bread is great. The beer + vinegar give it a real sour-dough flavour without the nightmare of sourdough… and almost no kneading at all (yes, kneading can be fun, but if you don’t do it right and just long enough… it’s brick-time).
Adapted from a Cooks Illustrated recipe.
• 3 cups organic white flour (you can mix a bit of whole wheat in there — no more than 1/2 cup and increase the water by 1 tsp) plus a bit more for the work surface
• 1/4 tsp dry instant yeast
• 3/4 cup + 2 Tablespoons of water (that’s 7 oz total)
• 1 Tsp salt
• 1/4 cup + 2 Tablespoons mild flavoured beer (flat is ok; that’s 3 oz total)
• 1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar
You will also need:
- a large 5-8 qt cast iron (enameled is best) dutch oven (with lid)
- parchment paper
- a large covered bowl
- Whisk the dry ingredients together; then add the mixed liquids in a bit at a time while using a spatula to incorporate the water into the dry ingredients. I add seeds (flax, fennel, sesame, even sprouted wheat berries– if you add dry seeds, you may need to increase water by 1 tsp) at the initial mixing stage;
- The dough will seem unusually “shaggy” like a muppet and barely holding together. This whole process takes < 2mins
- Form a rough round loaf with a couple of seconds of hand kneading before you…
- Stretch plastic wrap on the bowl ; then the proofing wait comes next, with the dough in a warm place for 8-12 hours; if I use my own cool “room temp”, even up to 15 hrs is good…
- After the first proofing, gently move the dough to a well-floured cutting board and knead for no more than 10-15 times; form into a nice round loaf and place this into a covered bowl that has an ample sheet of parchment paper in it (wit enough extra paper along all sides to be able to pick up the loaf afterwards– make sure there is enough room in the bowl for the dough to double in size without hitting the lid. Let this rest in a warm spot for 2 hours.
- About 45 mins-1 hour into the second rest period, put your empty dutch over (lid and all) into a 500 degree oven– you can preheat with the dutch oven in there
- After the 2-hour proofing, uncover your bowl and gently flour the top of your dough and score it with a razor or very sharp knife 3 x, digging in 3/4″
- Lower your oven temp to 425 degrees and remove your dutch oven from the oven (careful!! very hot!) ; remove the cover and gently move the dough carrying it by the parchment paper, and place the whole bundle (parchment paper and all) into the ducth oven; cover the dutch oven and place in oven (at 425 degrees).
- Bake for 30 mins.
- After 30 mins. remove the cover and bake 30 mins. more
- Remove the lidless dutch oven from the oven, and raise the finished bread out by the parchment paper, and cool on a rack for 1.5 hour; wrap the loaf in a clean cotton dish towel and store in a plastic produce bag (ones with little holes in them) on the counter.