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Five minutes of work = real bread.

You will need a large cast-iron pot or dutch oven with a lid for this recipe. You will also need 12 - 24 hours to complete the cycle, BUT - the timing is more flexible, since the yeast is rising very slowly. You can start this before going to work and finish it when you get home. Or start it before you go to bed and finish it for brunch the next morning. The lower amount of yeast will yield a slower rising bread, 15 - 18 hours for first rise. The higher amount of yeast will yield a faster-rising bread, 9 - 12 hours for first rise.

Recipe for a Large Loaf

  • Select a mixing bowl and a lid to cover the bowl (a pot lid or a pan is fine).
  • Dissolve 1 t dry yeast in 3 cups water. (Yes, that is one TEASPOON yeast.)
  • Sift together 6 c BREAD flour and 1 T salt.
  • Mix flour into the water. You can knead it with your finger tips a couple times to pull it together in a ball shape. It WILL be soft and a bit sticky and may not hold a firm shape.
  • With a spatula, scrape the sides and incorporate the scraps into the dough.
Cover the dough with a lid and let it rise 12-18 hours, until bubbles start dotting the top.

Pour a very thin line of olive oil around the entire edge of the dough.

  • With your spatula, push the dough away from the sides and into a soft ball.
  • Tilt the bowl a bit so the ball rolls.
  • Roll the dough around until it is completely covered with oil and has deflated.
Cover again and let rise 90 minutes. It should double in size.

Turn the oven on and set to 450 F.

  • Oil a large cast-iron pot or Dutch oven with a lid (I use an 9-qt Dutch oven). Put it (and the lid) into the oven for 20 minutes to preheat.
  • Remove pot from oven. You can if you desire, oil the pot VERY carefully (pour oil in and tilt it around is safest!) or you can do what I do, which is oil the ball of DOUGH with olive oil. Sprinkle the pot bottom with corn meal. With your spatula, flip the ball of dough into the pre-heated pot. PUT THE LID ON.
  • Cook at 450 F for 30 minutes.
  • Remove lid and cook for another ten minutes (dough will brown and sound hollow when tapped on).
Run a knife around the edges, remove from pot and cool on rack for at least five minutes.


You CAN do this faster; in three hours, as a matter of fact. Does not taste quite as good, but, still yummy. Follow the original procedure, but make sure to rise the dough in a warm place. This warmth plus the extra yeast will speed the first rise to 45-60 minutes and the second rise to 30-45 minutes. Use the following combination of ingredients:
  • 2 cups lukewarm water
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoons active-dry yeast.
Combine all the above and let it work for 5-10 minutes. Then add:
  • 4 cups bread flour
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt

In the traditional bread-making recipes yeast growth is precipitated by adding a large amount of yeast to a dough with some sugar in it. The waste product from yeast growth, carbon dioxide, is removed from the dough by stirring down and then kneading down after the bread dough doubles in size. This has to be done ON SCHEDULE or the dough exhausts itself.

For THIS bread, the method is: start with a very small amount of yeast, no sugar, and let the yeast slowly multiply. The slow proofing (rising) of the dough allows the bread to develop without kneading. The bread is cooked in a hot oven in a hot cast iron pot with a lid on it, which cooks the bread with a combination of heat and steam. The resulting loaf has a good crust and a tender but firm crumb that holds up to slicing.


The general proportions of ingredients:
  • 1/2 cup water :
  • 1 c flour :
  • 1/2 t salt :
  • scant 1/8 - 1/2 t baking yeast

Temperature for rising: I have made bread in a kitchen that was as low as 60 degrees F with the bread in a covered bowl on the counter.

I have substituted 1/2 of the flour with high-gluten whole wheat flour with success. Whole wheat flour may require a bit more water.

I have (in a cold kitchen) allowed the first rise to go for 20 hours and the second for four.

I have substituted 1/3 of the flour with rye flour.

I have used this recipe with the water scaled down to 1.5 c and up to 3 c.
Maura Enright, Proprietor
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