Construction Man and me riding somewhere in Montana on a wagon train a few years back.
We agreed to head up the food and preparation on this trip. The Dutch oven is one of the finest pans in my culinary arsenal! From scrambled eggs for our breakfast burritos, to warming the tortillas, and even whipping up Shepherd’s Pie; Dutch ovens are the bee’s knees.
I bake a meaty, dense brown bread regularly in two of my smaller cast iron beauties. This is a no knead recipe that has become quite a standard at most family gatherings.
Prepare the dough the night before:
In a large plastic bowl add:
4 1/2 c bread flour
1 1/2 c light rye flour
2 1/2 Tbls yeast
2 Tbls brown cane sugar
1 c quick oats
2 teas salt
mix dry ingredients together, then begin adding wet ingredients:
2-3 Tbls olive oil
1/2 c molasses
3 c (+scant) warm water
Stir and mix quite well, dough will resemble a shaggy dog texture and be fairly wet. Cover with plastic wrap and leave on counter overnight, about 12 hours.
In the morning, pop your Dutch oven, one larger 10- 12 quart or two smaller 6-8 quarts, into the oven and turn ‘er up to 425* . While the ovens are preheating, dump your dough onto a floured surface and knead a tad more flour into the dough to be able to handle it and cut it into two equal portions. Or leave in one large loaf for larger pan. Let dough rest, covered with plastic wrap, on the counter until Dutch ovens are hot. Pull Dutch ovens out, remove lids and spray inside with oil. Be careful, these pans will be screaming hot! Drop dough into pan, it will sizzle if you are doing it right. Score top of dough three times with sharp knife. Replace lids and pop back into the oven. Set timer for 25 minutes. When timer rings, pull Dutch oven lids and bake for 8-10 more minutes. Bread will be golden to dark brown and sound hollow when you knock on the top.
Remove from oven and turn out on rack to cool.
Serve up with plenty of salted butter and a good glass of dark, dry wine! This bread also pairs very nicely with Shepherd’s pie.
artwork by Diane Whitlock