Sunday, May 3, 2009

Buttermilk Dutch Oven Bread

Buttermilk Dutch Oven Bread is a no knead yeast bread so it requires a longer fermentation time to achieve the best flavor and texture. You start the process the first day and allow it to rest in the refrigerator for 10 hours and then sit for another 12 to 18 hours at cool room temperature.

The bread is big and puffy, crusty, and faintly tangy. The dough is baked in a lidded Dutch oven so it should spring up a lot and be light and airy. For added appeal, the top of the loaf can be sprinkled with coarse salt.


Buttermilk Pot Bread with Coarse Salt
Makes: 1 large loaf, 12 to 14 wedges or slices

Adapted from
Kneadlessly Simple by Nancy Baggett.



Ingredients:

  • 4 cups all-purpose flour, plus 1/2 cup, more as needed
  • 2 T. sugar
  • Scant 1 3/4 T. salt (increase to 2 tsp. if coarse salt garnish is omitted)
  • 3/4 tsp. instant yeast
  • Oil for coating dough
  • 1 3/4 cups plus 2 T. iced buttermilk, plus more if needed
  • 2 T. unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
  • 3/4 tsp. coarse salt for garnish, optional

Directions:


First Rise:

Mix 4 cups of flour, sugar, salt, and yeast in a large bowl. Stir the buttermilk into the bowl, and scrape down the sides until the ingredients are completely blended.




If the mixture is too dry, stir in just enough more ice water (or buttermilk) to blend the ingredients.  Do not over moisten. The dough should be slightly stiff. If necessary, stir in enough flour to firm it a bit. Brush or spray the top with oil.



Cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Refrigerate the dough for 3 to 10 hours. Then let it rise at cool room temperature for 12 to 18 hours. I placed the dough in a clean bowl and put it in the refrigerator overnight.




Second Rise:

We'll move on to the second rise later today. The dough is sitting on the counter resting right now.





Okay, it's been 12 hours so it's time to finish this baby. It's definitely doubled in size.




For the second rise, vigorously stir the butter into the dough until it is evenly and thoroughly incorporated. I used a wooden spoon for this part, but you can use the dough hook on your stand mixer if you prefer.



Then, thoroughly incorporate the remaining 1/2 cup flour, plus enough more flour to make the dough very stiff.




Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Lift and fold the dough towards the center all the way around. Evenly brush or spray the dough top with oil. Cover the bowl with nonstick spray -- coated plastic wrap.




For the final rise, let the dough rise for 1 1/2 - 2 1/2 hours at warm room temperature; Continue the rise until the dough doubles from its original size, removing the plastic if the dough nears it.





Baking Preliminaries: 20 minutes before baking time, put a rack in the lower third of the oven; preheat to 450 degrees. Heat a 4-quart Dutch oven or similar heavy metal pot in the oven until sizzling hot (check with a few drops or water), then remove it, using heavy mitts.




Loosen the dough from the bowl sides with an oiled rubber spatula and gently invert it into the pot. Don't worry if it's ragged-looking; it should even out during baking. Lightly spritz or brush the dough top with water.




Sprinkle coarse salt over the top and make a large, 1/4-inch-deep X with well-oiled kitchen shears.




Immediately place the lid on the pot and shake the pot back and forth to center the dough.




Baking: Lower the temperature to 425 degrees F.. Bake on the lower rack for 50 to 55 minutes or until the loaf is puffed and firm on top.

If the loaf is nicely browned, continue baking with the lid on; if the loaf looks pale, remove the lid. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes longer, until the top is well browned and crusty and a skewer inserted in the thickest part comes out with just a few crumbs on the tip (or until center registers 205 to 207 degrees on an instant-read thermometer). Then, bake for 5 to 10 minutes.

Remove the loaf to the rack. Cool thoroughly.




Serving: Cut the loaf into wedges or crosswise slices.  It tastes good warm, but it will cut much better when cool. Cool completed before storing.





Storing: To maintain the crisp crust, store the loaf draped with a clean tea towel or in a heavy paper bag. Or store airtight in a plastic bag or wrapped in foil:

The crust will soften, but can be crisped by heating the loaf, uncovered, in a 400 degrees oven for a few minutes. The bread will keep at room temperature for 3 days, and may be frozen, airtight, for up to 2 months.


Happy Baking!
Cathy

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