Sunday, September 22, 2013

Perfect Crusty Bread

So I'd have to say that I consider myself somewhat of a carboholic.  I've really been trying, for quite some time now, to cut empty carbs out of my diet, and have been doing a great job!  Every so often though, I tend to fall off the bandwagon.  In my eyes, no one's perfect and I feel that as long as I don't go too far overboard, it should be ok. Lol.....

Fall is such a tease too, especially for carboholics, mostly due to the fact that it's the perfect time of year for opening windows and baking delectable goodies such as breads, pies, donuts, cakes, etc.  And of course, I naturally have a bunch of those recipes I want to try out!  I'll make them too, knowing that I'll have to be in the right mindset ahead of time in order to ensure that I will have the will power to stop myself from sampling.

I really can't believe that Fall is already here!  I'm therefore declaring that today officially commences my Fall baking.  The windows are already open, letting in fresh air, and I have a loaf of Jalapeno-Cheddar bread cooling on the counter which is spreading a delectable aroma throughout the house.  

This particular bread was so easy to make, and doesn't require any special electronic kitchen device, other than your own hand.  Another thing that I love about this recipe is the fact that I can add any ingredient to the basic crusty bread recipe that I want.  This time around I chose to add in some cheddar cheese, red pepper flakes, and fresh jalapeno peppers.  However, I can't wait to try out different options! 

This is a recipe that I definitely see myself making again and again!  In fact, my husband has already asked me to make another loaf.  Not only is it great to eat plain, but it is also perfect to make sandwiches with! 

Here's the basic recipe and feel free to add in ingredients of your choosing.....

Perfect Crusty Bread
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3 cups all-purpose flour
1 ¾ tsp. salt
½ tsp. rapid rise yeast
1 ½ cups water

In a large mixing bowl, add in and whisk together the flour, salt, and yeast (If adding additional ingredients, now would be the time to add those in.  I added in about 1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese, 2 jalapenos - sliced and seeded, and about 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes).  Next, add the water and stir around with a wooden spoon until a shaggy dough is formed.  Once ready, cover the bowl with plastic wrap (I love to use Glad Press and Seal) and let sit for 12-18 hours.  I let mine sit out overnight.

Once the dough is ready, preheat the oven to 450 degrees.  After the oven is preheated, place a cast iron Dutch oven within and allow it to heat for 30 minutes. 
While the Dutch oven is preheating pour out the dough out onto a well-floured surface and shape into a ball. 

Place the plastic wrap back over the dough and allow it to sit for 30 minutes while the pot is heating.

After 30 minutes, remove the Dutch oven (be careful because it will be HOT) from the conventional oven and gently place the prepared dough into the pot.  Once this step is done, place the lid back on top, and put the pot back into the oven for another 30 minutes.  When the time has expired remove the lid from the Dutch oven, admire the bread, and let finish cooking, uncovered, for another 15 minutes.

Remove the pot from the oven and let cool for a few minutes.  Now, remove the bread from the pot and let cool completely on a wire rack. 

Source: Simply So Good


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