As much as I love sourdough bread, feeding a starter seems to be a bit high maintenance for me. This recipe offers a simple and easy path to crispy and delicious homemade French bread with just a little yeast and plenty of time - It does take at least 15 hours, but produces great bubbly French bread. Fortunately most of the time is inactive - only about 5-10 minutes of active work. BUT The work is spread into a minute here and there to form, uncover, preheat, etc. and all happens in the last 3 hours of the process, so you need to make sure you’re available during that time. I generally start the dough the night before and bake in the morning.
What you need to know:
You will need a Dutch Oven with a lid
The full process takes approximately 15 hours.
You’ll need to be around for the last 3 hours of the process
- 3 Cups flour
- ¼ tsp instant yeast
- 1¼ tsp salt
- 1 ½ Cup Water
Note: You will need extra flour for the next steps.
Stir together until well combined. Cover and let sit in bowl for approximately 12-15 hours in a warm spot.
12 or more hours later:
- Turn bubbly dough onto floured surfaces, then turn over once or twice, coating with flour.
- Cover with a flour sack or tea towel and let rest.
- Set timer for 15 minutes
- Add just enough flour to rested dough to be able to form a ball without the dough sticking I don’t measure, but form the ball on a well-floured surface, adding as needed
- Place ball, seam side down on a Flour Sack Towel towel and cover, or in a covered bowl, amply coated with flour.
- Set a timer for an hour and thirty minutes.
- Let dough rest for two hours
Note: Step 3 is where I had some issues in the beginning. If tea towel or bowl wasn’t sufficiently floured and dough too sticky, it stuck to the surface on step 5. While it still produced good bread, it was a rather flat loaf once I coaxed it out of fabric or bowl. A tightly knit flour sack towel helps here too. And I now use a more substantial coating of flour on any part of the towel that may touch the dough.
- When timer goes off, put your Dutch oven in the oven and set temperature to 450.
- Set a timer for 30 minutes.
- Remove Dutch oven. Carefully turn dough from tea towel to HOT Dutch oven, seam side up.
- Shimmy pan to spread dough evenly.
- Cover with lid and place in oven.
- Set timer for 30 minutes
- Remove cover from Dutch oven and place back in oven.
- Set a timer for 15 minutes
Remove from oven. Cool. Enjoy!
Here is a link to our set of flour sack towels - they are large, square, natural, unbleached cotton. This is the towel I always use when baking bread :