Once upon a time, baking bread at home was as much a part of every day life as doing the laundry or taking a bath. Now, we settle for preservative-laden Sara Lee to save us time on preparing school lunches and breakfast toast. Every once in a while we treat ourselves to some Avalon Bread, when we are in the area, but what if I told you you could make the best bread ever with just a few simple ingredients!? The only thing you might not have is a cast iron dutch oven, which you should go ahead and use one of your Christmas gift cards to purchase today. So here goes the recipe:
Everyday Crusty Bread with Jalapeño Cheddar Variation
- cast iron dutch oven with lid
- 3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 t active dry yeast
- 1 t salt
- 1 1/2 cups warm water (105-110º F)
- 1-2 jalapeño peppers, chopped (optional)
- 1 cup of cubed cheddar cheese (optional)
- Whisk together flour, yeast and salt.
- Add in the water. I do not have a thermometer so I use my body temperature as a gauge of 98.6º, and make the water slightly warmer than my hand. You do not want the water to be too hot or it can kill the yeast.
- Stir everything together. At this time, add in the jalapeño pepper pieces and cheese cubes, if using, or any other add-ins you wish!
- When everything comes together, cover the bowl with a damp cloth and let it sit for 12-24 hours, until risen.
- Once risen, pre-heat the oven to 450º and place your dutch oven inside to heat up for about 15 minutes.
- Remove your dough from its bowl and place it on a floured surface, shaping it into a ball.
- Carefully remove the pot from the oven, place your dough inside, put the lid back on, and return to the oven to bake for 30 minutes.
- Remove your bread from the oven and take off the lid. Sprinkle with additional shredded cheese and jalapeño slices (if desired) and return to the oven, uncovered, to bake for 15 more minutes.
- By this time, your house will smell heavenly and your roommates will be drawn to the kitchen.
- Your bread should slide out of the pot with ease, and by golly, do not wait any longer to cut into your fabulous creation.
Warm freshly baked bread is the BEST! Serve with grass-fed butter, or plain if you have chosen the cheddar/jalapeño variation.