I love fresh baked, home made bread. I even love the kneading- the way my hands squeeze and roll the dough is meditative and sensual. But I love this Crusty Bread because it is a no-knead bread, so easy to mix and can be customized to your taste.
To begin, you must have a Dutch oven pot because the bread is baked in it. While I prefer my LeCreuset for soups, stews and other main dishes, any manufacturer's pot will do fine for this bread as long as it can take oven temperatures to 450 degrees.
3 Cups whole wheat flour (white flour can be substituted)
Up to 1 Cup of something else! Oatmeal (uncooked), sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, wheat germ, dried fruits such as cranberries or raisins, nuts like walnuts or pecans- what ever you want that would taste good in bread. Or you can add nothing else, just the flour, and reduce the water later.*
3/4 teaspoon active dry yeast
2 Tablespoons sugar or 1 Tablespoon honey
1 3/4 teaspoon salt
2 Cups water, room temperature *If you are just using 3 Cups flour, reduce water to 1 1/2 Cup
Mix the dry ingredients together. Add water and stir. The dry ingredients should be wet but not sloppy- much drier than batter, but looser than a kneaded bread. (As the bread rises it should look sponge-like.)
Cover the bowl with saran wrap and let sit for 12-18 hours. I usually start this on my way to bed- it takes but a minute- and bake it off in the morning.
Put your Dutch oven and lid in the oven and pre-heat the oven to 450 degrees. Once it has reached temperature, time it for 15 minutes.
While the pot is coming to temperature, flour your hands and the top of the dough. Lift from the bottom and pat the outside of the dough-ball with flour on all sides, shaping into a nice rounded loaf. No kneading required!
USE OVEN MITTS OR POTHOLDERS TO REMOVE LID AND POT.
DO NOT HANDLE POT OR LID WITHOUT MITTS OR POTHOLDER.
When the pot has been heated through, sprinkle some flour on the bottom of the pot to prevent scorching the bread and add the bread to the pan. Cover and bake for 30 minutes.
Remove the lid WITH POTHOLDER and bake 15 minutes more or until the bread looks well browned.
Cool on wire racks and enjoy.
This is so easy and so delicious!