Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Crusty, Tender Homemade Baked Bread

I am presently hoping around my kitchen grinning like a Cheshire cat in carb-induced sheer bliss because I…have just…baked…the…most…AWESOME….BREAD…EVER!! I just munched down two warm and buttered slices of the yummiest artisan-esque bakery bread that came piping hot out of my very own oven! It’s nothing short of a miracle folks. Let’s be clear….I am not a baker. I have and do bake (albeit cookies and cupcakes), but I have never made something like a loaf of bread before. This was a serious leap of faith – and it completely and utterly paid off.

While trolling my favorite food sites I came across this picture of a gorgeous loaf of bread. Crusty on the outside, soft and tender on the inside; it made my mouth water. But what surprised me was the picture was linked to a very unassuming site of a 40-something mom who by no account was a famous bread maker. I thought to myself, well DAMN, I could do that! So I did. And it really just wasn’t that hard folks. If you do one thing this month culinary wise, do this. Make this bread. It is easy. Really really easy. And terribly delicious!

So do read on while I will continue to hop around my kitchen doing my bread dance, scaring the daylights out of my cat, until I have eaten every last morsel of this phenomenal A Girl and Her Kitchen baked bread (or until husband comes home to claim his share)!
Baked Bread
(Adapted from America’s Test Kitchen)

3 cups (15 ounces) all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon instant yeast
1 1/2 teaspoons table salt
3/4 cup (7 ounces) water, at room temperature
1/4 cup (3 ounces) beer (plus a teaspoon if needed)
1 tablespoon white vinegar

Whisk flour, yeast, and salt in large bowl.
Add water, beer and vinegar. Using a wooden spoon, fold the mixture incorporating all of the flour. It will be a slightly sticky dough. If too dry, add a teaspoon of beer to your hands and flip dough over a few times lightly to pick up loose bits.
Cover with plastic wrap and a tea towel and let it sit in a warm-ish spot for at least 8 hours and up to 18 hours. (I let mine rise 18 hours.)
Turn dough out onto parchment paper with a bit of flour.
Knead 10 to 15 times.
 Loosely cover with plastic wrap and a tea towel and let sit in a warm-ish spot for 2 more hours.
For the last 30 minutes of the rising, heat oven to 500 degrees – putting your dutch oven in the oven with the lid. After 30 minutes, reduce heat to 425.

Score the top of your dough and then using the parchment paper, carry your dough to the dutch oven – the parchment paper will be on the sides of the pan, just put the cover on and bake for 30 minutes.
After 30 minutes, remove the lid.
And cook an additional 20 minutes uncovered.
The result is a crusty, crunchy outside and tender and chewy inside. Sooooooooo good.


  1. Looks great! Don't you love it when things work out the first time? :D

  2. Your bread looks and sounds scrumptious! The instruction to knead "10-15 times" protects the cook from under-kneading or over-kneading - either one could ruin the texture of the bread.
    Also, this is the first time I ever saw a bread recipe that includes baking the dough in a dutch oven. I think that this is a brilliant idea - when the dough is in the closed dutch oven, steam builds up and adds air pockets/lightness to the risen and kneaded dough. When the cover is taken off the crust bakes to a nice and crunchy texture. What will your next bread be? Have you ever tried challah? It takes eggs and a double rising but is otherwise a basic bread recipe.

  3. Nice recipe. This Bread is you personified. Regular yet crisp and tempting . I am from Goa which is a state in India and we eat bread like this since, its our staple food and believe me it tastes yum with spicy gravy or spicy sausages.

    I wanted to know how to prepare crispy cheese dips like the one available at Pizza hut. If you have the recipe do email it to me on

  4. Yeah! So glad you tried this bread - it's worth the wait! :D

    I actually did another bread dough - while the dough was different I cooked it the exact same way and got equally great results.

  5. Um...this looks amazing!!!!!!!!

  6. When I bought my house through costa rica homes for sale
    I expected to have a big stove in the kitchen with a huge space, now I am really happy because I can cook every kind of recipe in my huge stove. I really love it.

  7. does it have to be 500 degrees? mine only goes up to 250 degrees :(

  8. Does your oven really only go up to 250? If you meant 450, I'd say you can bake it at 450 and you'll end up with good bread and a slightly less crusty crust. However, an alternative would be your grill. You can crank that up to 500 (high heat) and then put the dutch oven on the grill and close the grill. You might have to watch the gas gauge depending on how steady your grill is, but this should work and get you similar results.

  9. I've been trying to make GOOD bread for many years...this is the first time it worked. Tnx. Going to use similar technique, see if I can make some passable baguettes using a pizza stone and a hot oven.