Uncle Steve's Crusty Bread
3 cunbleached all-purpose flour, plus additional for dusting work surface
1/4 tspinstant yeast
1 1/2 tsptable salt
3/4 cplus 2 tablespoons water, room temperature
1/4 cplus 2 tablespoons mild-flavored beer, such as budweiser
1 Tbspwhite vinegar
How to Make Uncle Steve's Crusty Bread
- Whisk flour, yeast, and salt in a large bowl. Add water, beer, and vinegar. Using a rubber spatula, fold the mixture, scraping up dry flour from the bottom of the bowl until a rough ball forms. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for 8 to 18 hours.
- Lay 12- by 18-inch sheet of parchment paper inside a 10-inch skillet and spray with nonstick cooking spray. Transfer dough to lightly floured work surface and knead 10 to 15 times. Shape dough into a ball by pulling edges into middle. Transfer dough, seam-side down, to parchment lined skillet and spray surface of dough with nonstick cooking spray. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature until dough has doubled in size and does not readily spring back when poked with finger, about 2 hours.
- About 30 minutes prior to baking, place 6- to 8-quart heavy bottomed Dutch oven (with lid) on rack (in lowest position), and heat oven to 500 degrees. Lightly flour top of dough and, using a very sharp knife, make one 6-inch long, 1/2-inch deep slit along top of dough. Carefully remove pot from oven and remove lid. Pick up dough by lifting parchment overhang and lower into pot (let any excess parchment hang over the edge of pot). Cover pot and place into oven. Reduce oven temperature to 425 degrees and bake, covered, for 30 minutes. Remove lid and continue to bake until loaf is deep brown and instant-read thermometer registers 210 degrees from the center of the loaf, 20 to 30 minutes more. Carefully remove bread from pot; transfer to wire rack and cool to room temperature, about 2 hours.
- The bread is best eaten the day it is baked, but can be wrapped in aluminum foil and stored in a cool, dry place for up to 2 days.
- OLIVES, ROSEMARY AND PARMESAN BREAD: add 4 ounces finely grated Parmesan cheese (2 cups) and 1 tablespoon minced, fresh rosemary leaves to the flour mixture in step 1. Add 1/2 cup pitted, chopped, green olives with the water in step 1.
- SEEDED RYE BREAD: replace 1 3/8 cups all-purpose flour with 1 1/8 cup rye flour. Add 2 tablespoons caraway seeds to flour mixture in step 1.
- WHOLE WHEAT BREAD: replace 1 cup all-purpose flour with 1 cup whole wheat flour. Stir 2 tablespoons honey into water before adding it to the dry ingredients in step 1.
- CRANBERRY-PECAN BREAD: add 1/2 cup dried cranberries and 1/2 cup toasted pecan halves to flour mixture in step 1.