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Dutch Oven Artisan Bread
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Dutch Oven Artisan Bread
1/4 tsp active dry yeast
1 1/2 cups warm water
3 cups flour-Any combination of wheat or white
1 1/4 tsp salt
Cornmeal or wheat bran for dusting

1. Place warm water in a large bowl you can cover, add yeast and dissolve. Add the flour and salt, stir until blended. The dough will be shaggy and sticky. Cover bowl with plastic wrap or lid placed loosely. Let the dough rest at least 12 to 18 hours, at warm room temperature, about 70 degrees.
2. The dough is ready when its surface is dotted with bubbles. Lightly flour a work surface and place dough on it. Sprinkle it with a little more flour and fold it over on itself once or twice. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let it rest for about 15 minutes.
3. Using just enough flour to keep the dough from sticking to the work surface or to your fingers, gently shape it into a ball. This doesn't have to be done perfectly. Generously coat a clean dish towel with flour, wheat bran or cornmeal. Put the seam side of the dough down on the towel and dust with more flour, bran or cornmeal. Cover with another towel and let rise for about 1 to 2 hours. If it is really warm in the house an hour is much easier to remove from the towel.
4. At least 20 minutes before the dough is ready, heat oven to 465 degrees. Put it in about a 12 inch (at least 5 inches deep) heavy covered dutch oven (or cast iron, enamel, Pyrex or ceramic as long as it has a tight cover) in the oven as it heats. When the dough is ready, carefully remove the pot from the oven and lift off the lid. Slide your hand under the towel and turn the dough over into the pot, seam side up. The dough will lose its shape a bit in the process, but thatís OK. Give the pan a firm shake or two to help distribute the dough evenly, but donít worry if itís not perfect; it will straighten out as it bakes.
5. Cover and bake for 23 minutes. Remove the lid and bake another 15-17 minutes, until the loaf is browned and crisp. Remove the bread from the Dutch oven and let it cool on a rack for at least 1 hour before slicing(I never follow this last rule).

This is the easiest, most forgiving bread I have ever made. It gets raves where ever I take it!
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