I love reading recipes. When I was expecting my son, I used to have these odd bouts of insomnia in my second trimester. I used to come downstairs, make hot milk and read cook books. My logic was that I’d get tired, not engrossed like you would with a book / TV and it wouldn’t keep me awake. In reality I wandered around sleepy, starving and may, just may, have put on a massive amount of baby weight! Like four stone massive! Ah well, it all had a happy ending and, though the baby weight melted slowly, I have found I’ve developed a good capacity for picking up little tricks and shortcuts and ideas for new things to try.
One type of bread making that I had read about somewhere, sometime, was cast iron pot cooking. We make most of our bread at home. My husband makes lovely granary bread (aka ‘Daddy Toasties’) from the trusty breadmaker and we’re also fans of basic Soda Bread. But I have to say I really am partial to a crusty white loaf, and I was keen to try this apparently easy and super crusty bread. It really does make the most rustic and fantastic loaf, with fairly minimal work or time. Yum!
To make this I used a large, oval Le Creuset cast iron pot. Apparently any ‘casserole’ style pot with a lid will do.
Crusty Bread Loaf
Makes one loaf
3 cups Strong white bread flour
1 3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon yeast
1 1/2 cups warm water
*I’ve followed a US recipe that uses cups but will update with weights.
1. Sift the flour, salt and yeast into a large bowl.
2. Add the water and mix to form a wet dough. (I used a dough hook on my mixer which took about 30 seconds but you could easily mix by hand with a spatula.)
3. Set the bowl aside covered with cling film. Rest for 12 to 18 hours at room temperature. The dough becomes very ‘airy’ but remains quite wet.
4. Put the pot and lid in the oven, and heat at 230 degrees.
5. Turn the dough out onto a well floured board and make into a round. Rest for 30 mins, while the oven is heating, covered loosely with cling film or a light tea towel.
6. Working quickly, remove the pot from the oven, drop the dough into it, replace the lid, and put back into the oven. Cook for 30 minutes.
7. After the first 30 minutes, remove the lid and cook for a further 15 minutes.
And that’s it! Enjoy your beautiful looking and tasty crusty loaf.
P.S. Apparently this is great with added herbs and cheeses so that’ll be my next trick!