Crusty French Bread

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This recipe makes a crusty loaf of French bread that is as beautifully rustic as it is delicious. It takes a bit of time, but it’s easy and there’s no demand for unusual ingredients. The only special piece of equipment you’ll need is a Dutch oven, such as a Lodge or Le Creuset.

OVERVIEW
Total: 15 hrs 10 min
Prep: 10 min
Inactive: 14 hrs
Cook: 1 hr
Yield: 1 loaf

INGREDIENTS
3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more as needed (King Arthur – All Purpose)
1 1/2 teaspoon salt (Diamond Crystal Kosher)
1/4 teaspoon instant yeast (Saf Instant – Red)
1 1/2 cups water (bottled or filtered)

INSTRUCTIONS
Mix flour, salt and yeast in a mixing bowl. Add 1 1/2 cups of water and mix until combined. The “dough” will be very sticky. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and leave for around 12-16 hours.

Flour your counter or baking board liberally and turn out the dough, fold it twice and let it rest for 15 minutes then shape into a rough ball. Use only as much flour as necessary for the dough not to stick to the counter. Put back in mixing bowl and let rise for 2 hours.

Preheat your oven to 450 degrees and put an empty 4-quart cast iron pot with lid inside (a.k.a. Dutch oven, like Lodge or Le Creuset).

When dough is ready, remove the cast iron pot from oven, take off lid and place the sticky, floury mess of a “loaf” into it, seam side up. Replace the lid and put back into oven. Bake covered for 30 minutes, then remove lid and bake for another 15 minutes. Finally, take bread out of pot and bake for another 15 minutes or until golden brown and delicious. Let cool completely on baking rack before serving.

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