When I first saw this recipe for a boule made in a dutch oven I immediately thought of my son when he was little. He was in cub scouts for three years and each summer we would go to camp where the boys would shoot arrows, go on hikes and bake bread over the camp fire. I use the term bread loosely in this narrative because it was composed of flour, water and salt, mixed quickly and placed in the embers of the fire. Forty five minutes later there was something in the pot that looked like hard tack and tasted like paper. The boys loved it, probably because it was slathered in butter and jam, and because they made it themselves. It was a great experience for them but barely counted as bread baking. Having raised my own son I realize that there was no possible way a 7 year old is going to sit still and appreciate a discussion on yeast fermentation producing CO2 as a leavening agent and lactic acid for flavor. They were far more interested in running around and poking each other with the sticks they were not supposed to collect on the nature hike.
This recipe was far and away a huge improvement over those scout days! It includes yeast and allows for about 5 hours of proofing to develop a wonderful flavor. Homemade Dutch Oven Bread is a lean dough so it only has flour, salt, yeast and water.
A well is made in the center of the flour and salt and mixed until a shaggy dough forms.
The dough is covered and set in a draft free place for 1.5 to 2 hours.
The dough was punched down and allowed to proof for another 1.5 to 2 hours. After the second rising, the dough was removed and shaped into the boule form and placed in an oiled bowl and allowed to rise for an additional hour. While the dough proofed, a 6 quart Dutch oven was preheated at 450°F for 45 minutes. At the end of the fermentation period the boule was placed into the hot Dutch oven, covered for 30 min. After 30 minutes the cover is removed and the bread bakes for an additional 15 minutes to develop the top crust.
This bread had that artisanal quality of crusty exterior and the toothsome internal quality that we look for when we want a great bread product. I was very happy with the result and do recommend this recipe. It was easy, well written and definitely worth the time!
I hope you give this one a try!