If you’ve ever considered trying your hand at baking bread, but considered the task too intimidating or you have a fear of working with yeast, this recipe for Dutch Oven Bread is for you.
This recipe will walk you through the basic steps to making homemade bread with little effort, without difficulty, but with incredible results. Using a blend of flours in this recipe along with the flavorful add-ins of cheese and everything bagel seasoning creates a wonderful complexity of flavor and texture in this Dutch Oven Bread.
Thank you to Bob’s Red Mill for sponsoring this post! Even though I was compensated for this post, all opinions are my own.
Bread-Making for Beginners
Back in 2006, a recipe for No-Knead Artisan Bread by a guy named Jim Lahey was published in the NY Times and it changed everything. It gave beginner bread-makers and home bakers and all those in between the chance to break free of the kneading and the special equipment and the hands-on time investment it takes to bake bread from scratch at home.
This recipe for Dutch Oven is based on that concept. It gives you the opportunity to bake delicious, homemade bread in your very own home kitchen without much ado.
Using only the very best in flour from Bob’s Red Mill plus the base recipe from Bake From Scratch, I created my own version of this crusty, rustic bread using cheddar and everything bagel seasoning. And it’s heavenly.
Ingredients Needed to make homemade Dutch Oven Bread
Luckily, making Dutch oven bread is pretty simple, as far as bread-making goes. Very little hands-on time required, virtually no kneading, and I bet you have the majority of the ingredients in your pantry already.
- Bread Flour: bread flour has a higher protein content than all-purpose flour. This gives the bread structure and produces more gluten, those stringy bits in the dough that give the bread it’s chew and texture
- Whole Wheat Flour: using a little bit of whole wheat flour in addition to the bread flour gives the bread a slightly nuttier flavor and heartier texture. Blending flours in this way allows the bread to have delicious flavor without the full-out heartiness of using all whole wheat
- Salt: I prefer to use kosher salt, however, you can use whatever kind you have. Salts have varying levels of saltiness, so start out by adding just a little bit then adding more if you need to. You may want to add more or less than is called for in the recipe based on your preferences
- Instant Yeast: this recipe calls for instant yeast, which can be directly mixed into the dough with the other ingredients without having to first be dissolved in warm water and allowed to “bloom” like active dry yeast. If you only have active dry yeast, dissolve it first in about a tablespoon of warm (105ºF-110ºF) water and allow it to sit for 5-10 minutes. It should become foamy and smell yeasty. If this does not happen, your yeast has likely expired and will not activate to give your bread the rise we’re looking for. Throw it away and go grab some yeast from the store
- Warm Water: I like to use filtered or tap water for this. Nothing special, just make sure it’s about 105-110ºF and not any hotter, as this will kill the yeast. If you do not have a thermometer, the water should feel like very warm bath water
- Shredded Cheese (optional): I recommend using a semi-hard or hard cheese such as a sharp cheddar (mild cheddar’s flavor won’t come through in the baked bread) or asiago. I prefer to buy a block of cheese and shred it myself, as the pre-shredded kinds tend to have fillers and/or preservatives in them
- Everything Bagel Seasoning (optional): you can find this at Trader Joe’s or Amazon or you can make your own by mixing together equal parts poppy seeds, sesame seeds, minced dried garlic, minced dried onion and kosher salt
- Rice Flour or Semolina Flour: You will only need a tablespoon or so of one of these flours. They are used to prevent the dough from sticking to the banneton basket while proofing and to the parchment paper while baking
How to Make Dutch Oven Bread
Let’s get started! Add both flours, salt and yeast to a large bowl and whisk together. Then add in the shredded cheese and everything bagel seasoning. Stream in the water while mixing to form a sticky dough using a stand mixer or with a wooden spoon. That’s your dough!
Allow this to rest/proof at room temperature for 1 ½ – 2 hours then place in the fridge overnight to develop more flavor and gluten. The cold dough is easier to shape, too, which is what comes next.
On a clean work surface (I use a very large wood cutting board or my clean countertop) coated with flour, press the dough into an oval shape about 1 inch thick. Then, grab the bottom edge and gently stretch and fold bottom third over to the center (like you’re folding a piece of paper to fit into an envelope).
Next , stretch the right side out and fold the right third over to center. Repeat this with the left side.
Finish by folding the top third of the dough over the previous folds. Then, roll the loaf away from you, and using both hands, cup dough and pull it toward you to seal.
Turn the dough 90 degrees and pull again, repeating the process until a tight, smooth ball (boule) forms. If needed, pinch the seam on the bottom of the loaf to seal.
Place the dough, seam side up, in a banneton (proofing basket) dusted with rice flour or a medium bowl lined with a kitchen towel that’s been heavily dusted with rice flour. Loosely cover the dough with a clean dish towel, and let rise in a warm, draft-free place (75°F / 24°C) until puffed, 1 to 1½ hours.
Now you’re almost ready to bake! Place your empty Dutch oven with the lid on inside your oven and preheat the oven to 500ºF (260ºC) for at least 30 minutes. This will provide the perfect environment for the bread to get that crispy exterior and airer, perfectly baked interior.
Turn your dough out of the banneton or bowl onto a floured piece of parchment paper. Be sure the parchment paper is long enough for you to grab onto the sides and lift the bread to place gently into the hot Dutch Oven. I highly recommend doing this with high heat oven mitts.
Place the lid back on and into the oven for 25 minutes. Remove the lid and bake for another 25-30 minutes. The top of the bread should be a dark brown and the internal temperature of the bread should be at least 200ºF (93ºC).
As tempting as it may be to slice into the bread while it’s hot, allowing the bread to cool will allow the bread to achieve the light and airy texture it’s intended to have. As opposed to a gummy, sticky, wet texture that will result if you slice into while it’s still hot. No bueno.
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Thank you to Bob’s Red Mill for sponsoring this post!