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the best crusty bread (dutch oven)

(35 ratings)
Blue Ribbon Recipe by
Pat DiMercurio
Saginaw, MI

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 actually don't remember where I found it. It was an adaptation from a site called Simply So Good except I use bread flour instead of AP flour.

Blue Ribbon Recipe

The next time you want warm crusty bread, give this recipe a try. The outside is crisp while the inside stays firm and moist. To get the true crust effect, start the dough the night before. The aroma of the fresh bread baking in the Dutch oven will make the house smell wonderful. When you open the Dutch oven, there's the perfect loaf of bread. This is a very easy bread recipe that can be customized with your favorite herbs too.

— The Test Kitchen @kitchencrew
(35 ratings)
yield 12 or depending on how the loaf is sliced
prep time 10 Min
cook time 45 Min
method Bake

Ingredients For the best crusty bread (dutch oven)

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

How To Make the best crusty bread (dutch oven)

  • Flour, yeast, and salt mixed together in a bowl.
    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.
  • Stirring water into the flour.
    Add the water and stir with a wooden spoon until the dough is mixed well.
  • Flour combined into a sticky dough.
    The dough will be quite sticky and shaggy looking, but that's OK.
  • Setting aside the dough.
    Cover the bowl and set aside for 12-18 hours (up to 24 overnight is fine).
  • Dutch oven preheating in the oven.
    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.
  • Dough poured on a floured surface.
    Meanwhile, scrape the risen dough from the bowl onto a heavily floured surface. (Dough will still be very sticky.)
  • Shaping the dough into a round loaf.
    With floured hands, gently shape the dough into a round loaf, making sure there's enough flour on the surface so the dough doesn't stick. Let the dough just sit there until your pot is preheated.
  • Dough placed into the hot Dutch oven.
    Take the hot pot from the oven and gently place the dough into the pot.
  • Putting the Dutch oven back into the oven.
    Cover with the lid and return to the oven and bake for 30 minutes.
  • Continuing to cook the bread uncovered in the oven.
    Remove the lid at that time and return the pot to the oven for another 10-15 minutes.
  • Loaf of bread cooling.
    Gently shake the loaf onto a cooling rack and enjoy the beautiful aroma. Give it a chance to cool before cutting into the loaf.