I love bread.
I grew up on bread. At times I would eat nothing but bread with butter and honey as a kid. A bowl of soup would have torn chunks of bread thrown into it. There is nothing on the planet quite like the smell of fresh baked artisan bread coming out of the oven.
Though not an everyday thing anymore, and certainly of the non-wheat variety, a lightly toasted slice with marmalade, honey, or almond butter is a small pleasure I still cherish.
Also, bread must have a crust -non of that mellow soft bread for me, no thank you. The crust is a sacred element of breaking (or slicing) bread and enjoying the simpler living connection of its history.
Basic proportions, to be adapted as desired:
1/4 tsp active dry yeast
1 1/2 C warm water
3 C flour
1 1/2 tsp salt
For this particular bread, I used:
1 C Oat flour
1 C Rye flour
1 C All purpose vegan flour
Disolve yeast in warm water, mix a little and let it do its thing for a few minutes. It's ready when appropriately foamy with that distinctive yeasty smell.
Place all dry ingredients in a big bowl. Pour yeast and warm water and mix, preferably with your fingers (works better). The dough will be somewhat sticky. Form into ball and cover the bowl with either kitchen towel or plastic wrap. Find a warm spot in the house so it will rise better. Let it rise 8-12 hrs.
The surface of the dough should be dotted with bubbles; remove the cover, spread a little cornmeal or flour on a wooden board and gently place the dough on it. Fold it over once and reshape into ball. Let it rest for 20-30 mn. with a kitchen towel drapped over.
Prepare the Cast Iron Dutch Oven:
While the dough is resting, turn on the oven to 400 F and place the dutch oven in it, lid on, to warm it up.
After the 30 mn., carefully remove the lid and throw in a little flour at the bottom.
Now the for tricky part:
1. On the wooden board,make sure the "ugly" side of the dough is facing up -that is, the side where the previously made fold is visible.
2. Place a kitchen towel over it and softly rest you hand on top.
3. Slide the other hand under the wooden board and turn the whole thing over so the dough is now in your first hand (ugly side facing down).
4. Walk over to the open dutch oven and "plop" the dough into it, ugly side up.
5. Place the lid on and close the oven.
Bake at 350-400 F for about 30 mn., then remove the lid for another 5-10 mn lowering the temperature a bit to finish that crust properly.
Being mindful of potentially burnt finger tips, carefully remove the bread from the oven and let it sit anywhere from 30 mn to 1 hour, depending on how many watering mouth you have waiting in the sidelines.
***Useful TIP: it takes a whole 5 minutes to mix the dough, so I suggest making it in the morning and letting it rise all day. When you come home after work, it's ready to place in the oven for delicious, home made bread for diner.
I tried doing this is the evening before going to bed and letting it rise during the night, thinking I'd have fresh bread in the morning... though the logic was correct it did not work: the house is not warm enough during the night and the dough did not rise.***
And Voilà !... A very satisfying homemade artisan bread. :P