Everybody loves this recipe because it really and truly is as easy as it looks. And everyone makes it and says, “I think I did it wrong..” because of the wet dough and the fact that it just seems WAY too easy for anyone who’s ever made bread before (or who has decided not to make bread because it seemed too difficult).
- Combine flour, salt, and yeast into a large bowl.
- Add the water and mix (by hand) until everything is combined and rough looking. The dough is very, very soft – you won’t need to put much effort into mixing this up.
- Put a lid on your bowl, or cover with plastic cling wrap. Set it aside for a minimum of 12 hours (and as many as 24). The dough blob will get much larger, look very bubbly and wet, and you’ll be concerned that you have done something wrong. Don’t panic.
- Heat the oven to 450F. While the oven is preheating, place a cast iron Dutch oven (and lid) inside. Once the oven has reached 450, start timing for 30 minutes. (The Dutch oven is empty. No bread dough in there.)
- While the oven is heating, heavily flour your counter and dump the dough on top. It will be very sticky, wet, and goopy. You will again be concerned that you have done something wrong. Don’t panic.
- Shape the dough into a ball – not kneading, just sort of prodding it into shape – and cover the ball with plastic wrap. Set aside until the 30 minutes of Dutch oven-heating are finished.
- When the oven has heated, and the Dutch oven has been inside for 30 minutes, pull out the Dutch oven and plunk the dough into it. You can use a layer of parchment paper if you like (I did) to make it easier to transfer the dough from the counter into the really, really hot Dutch oven.
- Put the lid on the Dutch oven and put it back into the oven for 30 minutes.
- After 30 minutes, remove the lid.. and bake an additional 15 minutes.
- Remove bread from oven, pull it out of the Dutch oven, and place on a cooling rack to cool.
- Cool fully before slicing. Enjoy the crackling noises!
Updated to add:
You can make this in a Dutch oven that’s as small at 3 quarts, apparently. I used a 6 quart and the loaf sat in the middle and didn’t get anywhere close to the sides. All good! You can also make it in any oven-safe pot with a lid, according to the internet.