Easy Buttermilk Pot Bread
Makes 1 loaf (12 wedges)
Baking this bread in a preheated Dutch oven gives it a light texture and a chewy bottom crust.
- 4 ½ cups unbleached white bread flour or unbleached all-purpose white flour, plus more as necessary, divided
- 2 Tbs. sugar
- 1 ¾ tsp. salt
- ¾ tsp. rapid-rising, instant, or bread machine yeast
- ⅓ cup powdered buttermilk
- 2 Tbs. melted unsalted butter¾ tsp. coarse crystal salt for sprinkling, optional
1. Mix 2 cups water with 1 cup ice cubes in bowl. Combine 4 cups flour, sugar, salt, and yeast in separate bowl. Vigorously stir 1 & 3/4 cups plus 2 Tbs. ice water into flour mixture. (Dough should be slightly stiff; stir in just enough additional flour to stiffen slightly, if necessary.) Brush dough top with vegetable oil. Cover bowl with plastic wrap, and let rise at room temperature 12 to 18 hours (first rise).
2. Vigorously stir powdered buttermilk and melted butter into dough, scraping down bowl sides. Stir in remaining ı/2 cup flour, plus more as necessary to yield stiff but still stirrable dough. Lift and fold dough toward center with spatula. Brush dough with vegetable oil, and cover with plastic wrap oiled on side facing dough.
3. Let dough rise 1 & 1/4 to 2 & 1/2 hours at
room temperature (second rise). Second rise alternatives: let dough stand in turned-off microwave with 1 cup boiling water 45 minutes to 1 & 1/2 hours for accelerated rise; for extended rise, refrigerate up to 24 hours, then set out at room temperature.
4. Place oven rack in lower third of oven, and preheat oven to 450°F. Brush 4-qt. Dutch oven with oil, set on oven rack, and heat until sizzling hot. Transfer dough to Dutch oven. (Don’t worry if dough is lopsided and ragged-looking; it will even out during baking.) Brush top of dough with water, then sprinkle with coarse salt, if using. Slash large X in top of dough with knife or kitchen shears; cover pot, and shake to center dough.
5. Lower oven temperature to 425°F. Bake bread 50 to 55 minutes. If loaf is browned, leave lid on; if not, remove lid. Bake 10 to 15 minutes more, or until skewer inserted in thickest part of loaf comes out with just a few particles. Bake 5 to 10 minutes more. Cool 15 minutes in pan; unmold, and cool on wire rack.
February 2010 p.43