Makes one boule, about one pound
This is essentially a sponge that is allowed to rise and is then baked without kneading. The use of a Dutch oven simulates a French steam-charged oven. We use a 3-quart Le Creuset cassarole, which results in a fairly high loaf (the wider the pot, the thinner the loaf). The loaf is a boule with a hard crust and a crumb with lots of holes.
Be careful how you handle the Dutch oven when hot; be careful when moving it in and out of the oven.
For a whole wheat loaf, use 300 grams of white flour and 100 grams of whole wheat flour. Increase the yeast to 2 grams (1/2 teaspoon).
The recipe is adapted from one given in “My Bread” by Jim Lahey. The formula is the same, but we have changed the method. Variants have been popularized by Mark Bittman of the New York Times.
4 cups (400 grams) bread flour
¼ tsp (1 gram) yeast
1 ¼ tsp (8 grams) salt
12 fl oz (330 ml) water
While the dough is rising, or when all but 1/2 hour is left, place the covered Dutch oven in the oven. Set the heat for 450 degrees F. and allow to heat for 30 minutes. It is important to heat the Dutch oven a full half hour to bring it fully to temperature.
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