Simple & Comforting
Our Hospitality Director has been making this phenomenal and simple Crusty French Bread for years, and in that time has figured out all the perfect tricks and tweaks to making a perfect crusty loaf. Our team has enjoyed it when she’s brought some in to share, and now we have finally gotten the recipe from her!
This recipe does require a Dutch oven, so if you have one and are game for a new bread baking adventure, join us! When it’s freshly baked and still warm, we highly recommend slathering a slice with some French Brie, a dollop of blackberry or plum jam, and enjoying along with a glass of the glorious 2021 Yamhill-Carlton Assemblage Pinot Noir.
2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast (9 grams)
1 teaspoon sugar (4 grams) (use honey if you prefer)
1 1/4 cups warm water (300 grams)
1 1/2 teaspoons (10 grams) kosher salt
2 1/2 to 3 1/2 cups All-Purpose Flour (360 grams) plus extra for dusting (see recipe notes)
MIX THE DOUGH & FIRST RISE (1 HOUR):
Combine yeast, sugar, and warm water in a large mixing bowl, or in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook.
Let the yeast proof for about 5 minutes, until the mixture is foamy.
Add kosher salt and flour to bowl. Mix with your hands or a sturdy spatula, or mix on low speed with your stand mixer until all flour is incorporated and dough has just started to pull away from the sides of the bowl. For best results, mix until no dry bits of flour remain.
Please note: This is a relatively wet dough, so it may seem a bit shaggy and sticky at this point. Don’t worry – it will become more smooth and elastic as it goes!
Lightly flour all sides of your dough (don’t mix the flour in – this is just to keep the dough from sticking!) turning it over inside the mixing bowl to coat with flour on all sides. Cover the bowl with a clean tea towel and let rise on the counter for about 1 hour, until dough has doubled in size.
SHAPE THE DOUGH & FINAL RISE (30 MIN):
When dough has risen, lightly flour a large cutting board.
Tip the dough out of the bowl and onto the cutting board. DO NOT PUNCH THE DOUGH DOWN – you want to keep all those nice air bubbles intact so you have an airy, delicious loaf of bread. (Note: If the dough is sticking to the bowl a little bit, wet your hand with a bit of cold water and gently separate the dough from the bowl to get it all out).
Sprinkle a bit of flour across the top of the dough, then begin shaping it into a round loaf. Pull each corner of the dough in towards the center (like you’re folding an envelope) and repeat until the dough feels tight and begins to resist your folds. Flip the dough over and tap it into a round loaf. Flour a proofing basket or a new medium bowl and place your loaf into it seam-side down. Cover with a tea towel and let rise another 30 minutes or so while you preheat the oven.
HEAT THE OVEN :
While bread is rising, place an empty Dutch oven (with the lid on) in your oven and heat to 460 degrees Fahrenheit.
When the oven is hot, you’re ready to go! Use oven mitts to pull the Dutch oven out and remove the lid.
Lay a piece of parchment paper down on your counter or cutting board (optional – it makes transferring the bread easier!)
Tip your bread dough gently out of the proofing basket onto the parchment paper. Make sure the seam side is up this time – this is what will create those beautiful cracks on top of the bread! VERY CAREFULLY (without burning yourself!) use the sides of the parchment to lift the bread up and place it into the hot Dutch oven.
Put your oven mitts back on, place the Dutch oven lid back on the pot, and slide the whole thing back into your hot oven.
Bake bread for 30 minutes.
After 30 minutes, remove the lid from your Dutch oven. The bread should be taller, crusty, and very lightly browned. Continue baking the bread, uncovered, for 10-15 minutes more until the bread has deepened in color and you have a beautiful browned crust.
When bread is done, use oven mitts to pull the pot out of your oven.
Use a long spatula or the corners of your parchment paper to lift the bread out of the Dutch oven and onto a cooling rack. Let cool for at least 30 minutes before cutting into it.
Slice, slather with brie and jam, and enjoy!