Wednesday, March 26, 2014

A Little Dutch Oven Love... in Sourdough Form

I am my worst own enemy.

No, really. I have a tendency to get really excited about something and then psych myself out about using it. Case in point would be my beautiful new Le Creuset Dutch Oven.

As a 35-year old Mom of 3, I thought it was high time I invested in something I really wanted, Le Creuset cookware. I have drooled over it for years, but the price tag always scared me away. Last year I decided I deserved it. With as much time as I spend photographing in the kitchen, it was an investment I had earned. A prop with purpose, you could say.

I spent weeks going back and forth between colors. I really wanted to find one color that would go with my kitchen, my personality, etc. Finally, I settled on Caribbean Blue.

Isn't it pretty?

I started with my tea kettle. The old one had to be replaced anyway. I saved, I waited and then I finally got my first peice. Then came the utensil crock... but I was dragging my feet on a larger peice.

Luckily my husband picked out this Dutch Oven for me for Christmas. He also chose smaller ones, individual serving size, I can use for the kids. It really did bring tears to my eyes that he was so thoughful and knew me so well.

But, what would I make first???!!!

Everyone I consulted said, meat, any kind of meat. But the mood never came to me. And my gorgeous pan sat waiting.

An overabundance of good sourdough starter had me thinking, could I make a crusty loaf in my new Dutch Oven? Yes, yes I could. I don't have a proper cloche, but this was the next best thing.

The result? Amazing! No, really... just amazing. A thick, crackling crust coupled with a tangy soft bread inside made for a near perfect loaf. We devoured ours along with a Pot Roast and mashed potatoes. Next time I might just go with the loaf and a good wedge of cheese.

Either way, my mind is blown.

The Dutch Oven is now my favorite toy. Maybe soon I will even try it for some meat or a stew. For now I am going to stick with a good thing. It is the perfect way to bake up a lovely sourdough loaf.

Shall we start baking?

Easy Dutch Oven Sourdough

You Will Need:

  • 3 c. flour
  • 1 to 1 1/4 c. water
  • 3/4 c. active sourdough starter (feed the night before starting this)
  • 1 Tbsp. honey
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt
Start by mixing all the ingredients together in a stand mixer. Add water to create a soft, but cohesive dough. Beging with 1 cup and add more if necessary. The dough should form a ball and come away from the sides of the bowl. 

With the dough hook, knead for 5 minutes on medium (setting 4)

Transfer dough to a lightly greased medium bowl. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and a flour sack cloth and let rise for 3 hours.

Punch down the dough and let it rise again for 2 hours. After this time, shape into a round loaf and place on a square of parchment paper. This will keep it from sticking to the Dutch Oven. Cover the top with a handful of flour and slash the top down the middle with a lame or sharp knife.

While the dough is on it's final rise, preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Place the Dutch Oven in the oven to preheat. It should heat through for about 30 - 40 minutes before the bread is added.

Place the bread dough and parchment into the Dutch Oven and replace the lid. Bake for 12 - 13 minutes. Then remove the lid and bake for an additional 13 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and the bottom sounds hollow when tapped.

Cool completely before slicing.

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