Pat DiMercurio Recipe

THE Best Crusty Bread (Dutch Oven)

By Pat DiMercurio javancookie

Recipe Rating:
12 or depending on how the loaf is sliced
Prep Time:
Cook Time:
Cooking Method:

Pat's Story

Since I retired in 2010, I have been in search of the perfect Crusty Bread recipe. You know, the kind you find in great Italian restaurants that have a gorgeous crackly crust and a chewy inside, perfect for dipping in olive oil? I cannot take credit for this recipe. I actually don't remember where I found it, except it was an adaptation from a site called Simply So Good. The only thing I did differently was use bread flour instead of AP flour. If someone here posted this recipe, please accept my congratulations...(a fine loaf indeed) and my apologies for posting again.


3 c
bread flour
1 tsp
active dry yeast
1 tsp
1 1/2 c
water, warm

Directions Step-By-Step

Whisk flour, yeast and salt in a 3-4 quart bowl with a tight fitting lid. I like to use my trusty Tupperware. If you don't have a bowl w/lid use plastic wrap on a bowl. Add the water and stir with a wooden spoon until the dough is mixed well. The dough will be quite sticky and shaggy looking, but that's OK. Cover the bowl and set aside for 12-18 hours,(up to 24) overnight is fine.
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Place a cast iron Dutch oven with the lid into the oven while preheating and heat the pot/lid for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, scrape the risen dough from the bowl onto a heavily floured surface. (Dough will still be very sticky.) With floured hands, gently shape the dough into a round loaf, making sure there's enough flour on the surface so dough doesn't stick. let the dough just sit there until you're pot is preheated.
Take the hot pot from the oven and gently place the dough into the pot. Cover with the lid and return to the oven and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the lid at that time and return the pot to the oven for another 10-15 minutes. Gently shake the loaf onto a cooling rack and enjoy the beautiful aroma. Give it a chance to cool before cutting into the loaf.

About this Recipe

Course/Dish: Other Breads
Main Ingredient: Flour
Regional Style: American
Other Tag: Quick & Easy



Andy Anderson ! WichitaChef
Wednesday at 12:45 PM
Ann, if your yeast is past its expiration date, just make sure you proof it before you use it.

This is a wonderful recipe, you'll love it :-)
Ann Kolpin annkolpin
Wednesday at 11:30 AM
Hi. I'm going to try this bread right now. My yeast is a month past expiration date but I think it will still be alright. I'll purchase new next time I go shopping. I'm going to use a stainless steel pot and line with parchment paper. My question is what size bowl do you start this in? I don't want the dough rising over the top of the bowl. Also do you grease or butter the bowl? I was also thinking about adding some cardamom.
sallye bates grandedame
Jan 11, 2015
What a nice thing to share, Vanessa. It will be a wonderful help to those living in higher altitudes.

Hope you are having a great weekend. Love and hugs.
Vanessa Stevens vstevens0901
Jan 11, 2015
I just had to come and give my two cents on this recipe because I am so thrilled with how it turned out! I thought there might be others out there who struggle with baking bread at altitude, and I wanted to share my experience from 4,500 ft. The link that Heidi posted in the comments to high altitude tips is broken.

I moved to Salt Lake City from Western New York 2 and a half years ago, and while I wouldn't say that I was a great baker before, I was at least passable. Everything went markedly downhill after I moved, and the biggest problem is that there isn't a single adjustment you can make that will adapt every sea level recipe for altitude. Not only that, but the higher you go, the more pronounced the issues. While I have found good modifications for most of my recipes, homemade bread is one thing that I have not been satisfied with. It always turns out dense because of the quick rise and subsequent collapse from reduced air pressure. The lack of humidity usually means that the outside is over browned well before the inside is cooked, resulting in a raw, doughy flavor. I don't know exactly why this recipe works so well, but I think it's the fact that it's a moist dough to begin with, and leaving the lid on helps with water retention. The ingredients just need some slight modifications for optimal results at altitude.

3 Cups Flour (I used Bread Flour, AP would probably work)
Scant 1/2 tsp dry active yeast (I'm at 4,500 - use less at higher, down to 1/4 tsp)
2 tsp salt (flavors don't taste as strong at altitude for some reason)

I mix the dry ingredients and then stir in the warm water. Here is the key - start with 1 1/2 cups but watch the dough, not the recipe. As others have pointed out, there are so many environmental factors that influence the flour. I found that my dough was not at all shaggy at 1 1/2 cups (not surprising in this semi-desert air). I just added more warm water until it looked like I thought it should. I followed the rest of the directions exactly, except I put a small roasting pan full of water on the bottom rack during baking just to keep some more moisture in the oven during the last 15 minutes when the lid was off.

It came out perfect! Moist and fluffy on the inside, crusty and golden brown on the outside. Thanks so much for sharing this recipe, and for all of the helpful comments! Hope this helps others with altitude bread baking woes.
Julia Collins JuliaCollins
Dec 27, 2014
I used King Arthur....very good quality. Anyone used the Red Mill flours? I like their other items. Would be interested to hear feedback. Also, if anyone added herbs and if so which ones? Thank you.