I’ve been working this recipe for almost two months. If you follow my Instagram, you’ve been teased with many pictures. I’ve packed on a few extra pounds because of it, but it was the holidays, so aren’t we allowed to do that? Over the break I learned some family history. Apparently, my great-grandmother used to bake upwards of fifty loaves of bread a week. Yes, you read that correctly. Fifty. Her reason was partly for the need to feed many of her kids, but she also gave loaves to the local hospital each week. To pay off her debt…from childbirth. If only that were an option today. So, after learning this, I felt obligated to get this recipe right.

For a simple recipe, it was almost as troublesome as our 2-year-old. Sometimes it came out heavy, sometimes it was still raw in the middle, and sometimes once I forgot the salt and it tripled in size and tasted horribly bland. Once I figured out the ratios, I was baking a loaf daily. I continued to do so for many weeks.

This recipe is ridiculously easy and takes roughly ten minutes of actual hands-on time. The hardest part is all the waiting. Trust me when I say it’s worth every painstaking moment of it. It produces a heavy and rich loaf that pairs wonderfully with sauces, can be used as a bread bowl, or just go for straight gluttony by ripping off pieces to dip in fancy olive oil with crushed sea salt sprinkled on top. The lemon peel adds a very faint acidic taste that gives it a balanced flavor.

  • 3 cups (400 grams) all-purpose flour 1
  • 1/4 tsp of activated dry yeast
  • 3/4 tsp of salt
  • 1/4 tsp of dried lemon peel
  • 1 1/2 cup (12 ounces) of cold water

Sift the flour into a large glass or ceramic kitchen bowl, then sprinkle the yeast and lemon peel across the top. Using a wooden spoon to stir, add the water in increments, thoroughly mixing each addition before adding more. You may or may not use all the water.2 Stop adding when your dough no longer sticks to the sides of the bowl but you still need a finger to scrape it off the spoon. This is where the wooden spoon comes in handy! The dough should be sticky enough to give you anxiety if you had dig non-floured hands into it.

Leave the dough it in the bowl, and cover with a kitchen towel. Tuck it into a dark corner of your kitchen for 12-18 hours. If you’re unsure, err on the side of 18. I find leaving it alone the longest produces the best bake. If you don’t use your oven prooving drawer for storage like me, this is the perfect place for you to set it and forget it. If you have a drafty kitchen, or if you have limited counter space and it might get moved once or twice during the first rise, I recommend finding a closet or somewhere else dark, and low-traffic, to let it rise.

After the first rise, your dough should look a little bubbly and appear larger, if not doubled, in size. Lay a kitchen towel3 flat on the counter and generously sprinkle with flour. You can spread your towel over a cookie sheet to help move it easily if you need to. With lightly floured hands gently draw the stringy dough out of the bowl into the middle of the towel. Make a ball by pulling the edges into the center. It should be pretty sticky but resist the urge to add more flour. Leave it to rise again for 1-2 hours, uncovered. Again, err on the longer side if you can, as the additional time never seems to hurt. Once you can poke your finger in a quarter inch and it springs back it’s ready. In the last 25-30 minutes of the second rise, preheat your oven and Dutch oven to 475°. Make sure to dust the inside of the pot with flour or, if you prefer, cornmeal.

Once the ovens are preheated, reform the ball once more by pulling the outsides into the center, and create a seam. Carefully put the dough into the Dutch oven, seam up. Bake covered for 30-33 minutes. Remove the lid and bake another 10 minutes, or until it’s a nice golden brown. The crust will develop outward curls when releasing steam. When the tips of the curls turn dark brown it’s done. Remove from the oven and let it cool uncovered on a kitchen towel. You might be able to hear a very faint crackle as it cools.

You can keep a loaf unsliced and wrapped in a kitchen towel for up to two days. Once sliced, store in an unsealed ziplock bag with the open end folded under for up to two days. Ours never lasts long, as it’s usually eaten that day.

  1. You can use bread flour but expect a more dense bread.
  2. It can vary based on your local humidity.
  3. I recommend linen or cotton, but nothing with a terry texture.

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