Sunday, 3 February 2013

Mountain Bakery's easy peasy Dutch oven bread

Hands up who sees the words 'Dutch Oven' and immediately thinks of the tactical, under-duvet fart technique? You too? Jolly good, glad we've got that out of the way.

Moving on from toilet humour, I've got a bit of a confession to make....I've never made bread before. I know by now you've all come to see me as some perfect and peerless baking guru (ahem), but this is the truth of it. The problem is that I'm lazy; I like instant gratification. I can't be doing with sitting around waiting for the yeast do its magic and then go seven rounds in the kneading ring every few hours. I don't find it therapeautic, it makes my weedy arms hurt. 

But, whilst I am lazy, I am also a total lemming. I'm a fan of followng the crowd, and right now the crowd is making its own bread and social networking it in my face. I see the photos on instagram and I think to myself, 'I want a piece of what they've got'. So, I had to get my act together and make some goddamn bread.


I browsed a few recipes and was about to relent and use one by that smarmy goblin, Paul Hollywood, but then Lo! Behold! Like some beacon from heaven, this recipe sprung up in my blog feed, which requires absolutely no kneading, and very little effort of any sort. It is so easy that is has actually changed my whole approach to bread buying, in that I've completely given up buying any from the supermarket. Throwing this together is as easy as walking to the shop (unless you need to walk to the shop to get the ingredients - in which case, may I recommend Ocado?) and a darn sight cheaper. All you need is a little forward planning, to allow for the dough to rise. Oh, and it's a bit of a bugger to wash up after, there's no way around that.

The recipe comes from the lovely Rose, of Mountain Bakery; a micro bakery, based in Noriwch. Rose runs Mountain Bakery in her spare time, as a distraction from the day job, and can be found at various fairs and stalls of a weekend. She also runs a genius bread club, whereby for £12 a month you get a weekly bread delivery (still warm from the oven) and occassional little extras which Rose thinks will compliment the bread. 

We had our first delivery on Friday; not to our door, but to the pub which we happened to be in when the bread came out of the oven. A gorgeous little spelt, rye, and fennel loaf, with a pot of rhubarb and vanilla jam. Having a warm, scented loaf in my handbag for the evening was somewhat torturous, and I have to admit to, after a few wines, passing the jam round the table and us all ungracefully sticking our fingers in for a try. We're pure class.

The jam is divine, and the bread is fucking excellent, so I recommend all of you Norwich bods get signed up to Bread Club (first rule of which is that you MUST talk about bread club and make this girl deservedly rich).

Whilst I am usually inclined to dick about with a recipe, on this one occassion I refrained, so I am simply going to quote Rose's method. You also get a lovely little instructional video, made by Spindle Productions.

No-Knead Dutch Oven Bread Recipe

No-knead Dutch Oven Bread from SpindleProductions on Vimeo.

¼ teaspoon of dried yeast
350ml tepid warm water (so that when you dip your finger in, you can’t really feel any change in temperature)
400g strong white flour
1 ½ teaspoons of salt

The night before you want to bake, start off by combining the yeast with the warm water. You should start to see little bubbles appear at the edges and the water should turn milky, this means that the yeast is waking up nicely.

In another bowl, mix the salt and flour together well and then add to the water and yeast mixture. Turn it with a spatula until everything is mixed, it will look wet and shaggy, but that’s fine, cover with cling film and leave at room temperature overnight. The dough will enlarge to at least twice it’s size as it proves – so make sure it is in a large bowl and has room to grow.

In the morning take some flour and generously coat your work surface. Scrape your dough out of the bowl – be careful with it, as you don’t want to manhandle it too much at this point, as you may knock out some of the air that’s developed inside it during proving, which will give you a nice holey texture when baked. Put your casserole pot in the oven, and preheat to 250 degrees centigrade, fold the dough over on itself once and cover with a tea towel whilst you’re waiting.

Once your oven is up to temperature, carefully take out your casserole pot, scoop up your dough and put it in. With a lid on, return the dish to the oven for about 40 minutes. You may (as I usually do) want to take the lid off the pot about 10 minutes prior to taking the loaf out, so that the crust is all crispy on top.

Et voila! Yummy homemade bread for breakfast or brunch, with hardly any effort at all!