From Cook’s Illustrated Magazine, January 2008
Since the dough can be left alone for 8 to 18 hours, it’s easy to mix this up in the morning (or the night before) then bake it for dinner. The baking method (pre-heating the Dutch oven) assures a crusty country loaf. It’s amazingly easy. You’d never believe you baked such a good looking loaf with such great crust.
- Dutch oven with metal knob on lid
- Mixing bowl
- Measuring cups and spoons
- Liquid measuring cup
- Plastic wrap
- 10 inch Skillet (size not too crucial.)
- Parchment paper (wax paper won’t work)
- Non-stick cooking spray
- 3 cups (15 oz) all purpose flour
- ¼ tsp instant (bread machine) or rapid-rise yeast
- 1 ½ tsp table salt
- ¾ cup plus 2 Tbs. water (7 oz), at room temperature
- ¼ cup plus 2 Tbs. (3 oz) mild-flavored lager (Miller Lite, etc) beer
- 1 Tbs. white vinegar
- Whisk flour, yeast, and salt in large bowl. Add water, beer, and vinegar. Using rubber spatula, fold mixture, scraping up dry flour from bottom of bowl until shaggy ball forms. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for 8 to 18 hours.
- Lay 12- by 18-inch sheet of parchment paper inside the skillet and spray with nonstick cooking spray. Transfer dough to lightly floured work surface and knead 10 to 15 times. Shape dough into ball by pulling edges into middle. Transfer dough, seam-side down, to parchment-lined skillet and spray surface of dough with nonstick cooking spray. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature until dough has doubled in size and does not readily spring back when poked with finger, about 2 hours.
- About 30 minutes before baking, adjust oven rack to lowest position, place 6- to 8-quart heavy-bottomed Dutch oven (with lid) on rack, and heat oven to 500 degrees. Lightly flour top of dough and, using razor blade or sharp knife, make one 6-inch-long, 1/2-inch-deep slit along top of dough. Carefully remove pot from oven and remove lid. Pick up dough by lifting parchment overhang and lower into pot (let any excess parchment hang over pot edge). Cover pot and place in oven.
- Reduce oven temperature to 425 degrees and bake covered for 30 minutes. Remove lid and continue to bake until loaf is deep brown and instant-read thermometer inserted into center registers 210 degrees, 20 to 30 minutes longer. Carefully remove bread from pot; transfer to wire rack and cool to room temperature, about 2 hours.