Brave Baker, Dough Master: DIY Crusty Bread
Bread, cheese and wine—could there be any other perfect trinity for relaxing after work and rendezvousing with friends?
This DIY series is meandering a little off the beaten path and spotlighting cheese accompaniments, beginning with warm, wholesome, crusty bread.
But instead of fantasizing about munching on bread and cheese with a tall glass of wine, people tend to take on the frightened façade of Edvard Munch’s “The Scream” when they hear “bread baking.” Yeast just has that effect on even the bravest little baker. Maybe it’s that scene from I Love Lucy we can’t get out of our heads, the one where our beloved and kooky red-haired heroine keeps adding flour to a ball of dough, and after baking it in the oven, out pops a ballpark-long sub.
Janet remade this fine bread with its crispy crust just for culture’s blog—don’t you just want to tear a piece off and eat it with a chunk of cheese? And you can add some ingredients, too. “The sky is the limit as far as the flavor combinations go,” Janet says. She recommends anything, from pepper jack to brie to blue. A cheesy surprise inside your bread? Oh, yes, please!
Makes 1 loaf
- 3 cups flour
- 1 ¾ teaspoons salt
- ½ teaspoon yeast*
- 1 ½ cups water
- Leftover whey after making cheese, optional
- Large mixing bowl
- 6-quart Dutch oven with oven-proof lid
- Dough scraper
- Parchment paper
Step 1: Make it Dry
Whisk the flour, salt, and yeast together in a large mixing bowl.
Step 2: Liquify it
Mix in the water and whey. Janet makes ricotta or Greek yogurt and then adds the whey to the bread. “The whey gives a sourdough flavor that is just fabulous,” she says.
Step 3: Make a Dough**
Continue mixing the dough until it comes together. Don't over mix it though, this is a "no-knead" bread.
Step 4: Let Rise
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let sit for 12 to 18 hours at room temperature. Do not refrigerate. After rising it will look like the image above.
Step 5: Preheat
Place the empty Dutch oven with its lid on in the oven and heat 450°F for 30 minutes.
Step 6: Shape
Dump the dough out onto a heavily floured surface. Shape into round ball. Cover ball with plastic wrap and let sit for 30 minutes.
Step 7: Bake
Remove the Dutch oven from the oven and line with a parchment paper sheet that is long enough to protrude from the top on both sides. Remove plastic wrap from dough, flour your hands, and carefully place the dough on the parchment paper in the Dutch oven. Make sure not to burn yourself! Place pot inside oven with lid. Bake for 30 minutes.
Step 8: Enjoy
Stare at your beautiful loaf. And then, of course, slice into it. Have cheese on hand. And wine, too.
Don’t freak out! You don’t have to feel like you’re stepping into the shoes of Dr. Frankenstein when attempting to make bread. Just take a deep breath (maybe a bite of cheese) and know that yeast only rhymes with beast. “Don’t stress over the recipe,” says Janet. “Don’t be afraid of yeast. Trust and follow as instructed. Instant yeast works best. It a no fail/no brain recipe.” Need more encouragement? My friend made it for her birthday—and we were surprised it wasn’t from the farmer’s market. Yep, it was that good.
Cheese baked into the bread is glorious…but why stop there? “What is so great about this recipe is that you can add any cheese to it,” Janet says. “I love to spread the bread with a baked brie drizzled with honey and walnuts. Fresh herbs mix in great with any cheese as well.” culture
Recipe and Photos by Janet of Simply so Good
IF you do not have instant or Rapid-rise and you only have regular active dry yeast, THEN proof the yeast before you use it by mixing the yeast with 1/4 cup warm water. Let it set for 5 minutes then mix the yeast in with the water. BAM! It will work.
For a different variation, add zest of one lemon, some chopped rosemary and 1 ¼ cups shredded gruyere at STEP 3; or, add ¾ cup cranberries, zest from one orange and ½ cup sliced almonds. Janet also has made the bread with pepper jack cheese, jalapeno cheddar, sharp cheddar, asiago and blue cheese.