The bread you get out of this recipe is better than any bread you can buy from a baker. Both at home and abroad. The unique baking method, which takes place in a saucepan/dutch oven, gives a very special bread.
You have to start on the bread 12 hours before you need it. Eg the evening before, so it can ferment overnight and you can bake it in the morning. Or you can start in the morning and then bake it in the evening. The bread stays good and moist for a long time, so I usually begin in the evening.
First, stir the yeast into the water so it's evenly distributed. Use a large bowl. Mix the salt and flour into the water and stir with your hands or with a spoon. You only need to stir until all the flour is wet.
Let it ferment for 12 hours. When it's done fermenting it's light, airy and twice the size, with large bubbles. The long fermentation is why you don't have to knead the bread. the yeast does the work that you would have to do. It can be fermented for a longer time with good results.
Pour the dough out on a flour covered board. Fold it together in three parts. Like a letter. First one way and then the other.
Put it into a greased up bowl or onto a flour covered towel. Fold the towel over it and let it raise for 2 more hours.
Professional bakers use an oven with water vapor in it. This is something most people don't have. But you can get your crust even better than the baker by using this little trick.
You need to bake the bread in a pan/dutch oven inside the oven. the Pot's lid keeps the steam from the dough inside. That makes it take longer for the crust to settle and become hard. So the bread rises even more in the oven.
Heat the oven to 250°C (480°F). Use Convection if you got it. Place a medium sized pot in the oven. The pot should only be half filled with dough.
When the dough is done raising, flip it into the hot pan. Then put the hot lid on and put it all into the oven.
Make sure the stove is hot enough. I usually wait 15-30 minutes after the oven says it's hot enough. The oven thermostat measures the air temperature in the oven and can easily reach the wanted temperature before all the metal parts of the oven are properly warmed up. If the oven isn't hot enough the crust will be thin and soft. I use a convection oven.
It should bake for 30 minutes at 250°C (480°F) degrees with the lid on.
After 30 minutes you let it bake for 15 minutes at 230°C (445°F) without the lid.
Let the bread cool of for at least 20 minutes before serving.
This recipe originates from my danish site www.kvalimad.dk, and over the years there has been a LOT of questions about this recipe. So I have made this list of Frequently Asked Questions, with answers. In the hope that I would not have to repeat my replies from the FAQ.
If you have any new questions, please ask them here and not via email. That way many more people can read the answers.
Q: Did I not see you in "GO' morgen Danmark" (The biggest national morning show in Denmark)?
A: Yes, I was :-D It was fun, and they were nice. The only drawback was that I had to get up at 3:00 to make it in time: -S For those who did not see it , here is a link to the clip of the broadcast.
I am told that there has subsequently been some debate about the bread on National radio. But I have not heard that myself. There has also been an article in the paper "Politiken" that gives some more background:
Q: Why does my bread stick to the bottom of my pan?
A: Because the pan is not hot enough. Heat the oven to 250°C (490°F). Put the pan in oven and allow it to heat for at least half an hour. If you know that your pan takes ½ hour to get hot, you can just put it into the oven when you turn that on. Then you calculate ½ hour for the oven to heat, and another ½ hour for the pan. 1 hour in total. Which is not unusual.
Q: my bread is finished, but it is sticky and like liquid inside. Why?
A: It has not been baked long enough and / or at too low temperature.
Q: Can't you just let the dough rise a second time in the pan and then put it all in the oven.
A: No because then your pan is not hot enough from the beginning. It will burn and get stuck to the pan. This method will NOT work. Even with the aid of baking paper.
Q: Should the pot be greased?
A: No! That will result in the oil and the bread burning into the pan.
Q: Do you have to invest in an expensive cast iron dutch oven for this?
A: No.. It can easily be made in any approx. 4 liter (4 quarts) pot with a tight fitting lid. For example, an IKEA pot as most students have. Cast iron or other heavy material is the best. But it might as well be one that costs very little. I have a round cast iron pot that cost me €27 ($37), it makes a bread that is every bit as good. It does not matter if the pot is enameled or not. Mine is by accident. There was a sale. You can also use a roasting pan covered with aluminum foil.
Q: Can you use a roaster of glass or ceramics ( Römertopf ) or tupperware instead?
A: yes, and with equally good results. Preheat them in the same way as the iron pan. However, you may run the risk of glass and ceramics breakage due to thermal difference between the batter and the roaster. But the bread does not care :-)
Q: can the knob handle the high temperatures in the oven?
Re: I have done it for 5 years, but it is above the temperature factory recommends for my Le Creuset. You can change the knob with oone made of metal. Or use the money to buy a cheaper cast iron pot without a plastic knob : -S
Q: can you make a whole meal version of the bread?
A: Yes! Replace approx. 25% of the flour with a coarser type of flour. More than that, and it will raise poorly. The coarser version will generally not be as airy as with pure white flour.
Q: Should the dough rise in the refrigerator or at room temperature?
A: In this recipe the dough rise at room temperature. However, you can leave it overnight in the fridge. It will then rise afterwards for the same number of hours. So it' will not make you save time. Well allright. Perhaps it will need an hour less, but not much more. The dough and the bread will actually be better after resting in the refrigirator. It allows for some positive biochemical reactions to take place.
Q: Can it be made any quicker?
A: Yes. I sometimes make a "panic-bread" if I realise in the morning that I need a loaf of bread in the evening :-S In addition to the ingredients in the recipe I add 1 tbsp vinegar. For example, apple cider. I mix the yest into the flour and heat the water in a pot until it like water from a hot tap. About 60°C (140°F). Then I mix it like normal and let it rise. It is approx. twice as fast. About 4 hours for the 1 rise and approx. 1 hour for the second rise. The bread is not quite as good, but it is still better than what the baker makes :-S
If you are in a total state of panic you can actually make a version that only takes 1 hour! But it requires that you both knead the dough in a machine for 10 minutes and warm up the water.
Q: How can I store the bread so it stays fresh and with a good crust?
A: The short answer is "You can not." In a paper bag the bread is crisp and fresh for approx. 1 day. Then it dries out. In a plastic bag it is fresh for 3-4 days. But the crust becomes soft and chewy. I usually have it on the kitchen table on the first day. Every time I cut a slice I will put it down against the cutting board so it does not dry out. In the evening I put it in a plastic bag for the next few days. After 3-4 days I fry the remaining slices in a pan with a little oil or butter.
Q: Can you use dry yeast?
A: Yes. 1/4 tsp.
Q: Can I replace the yeast with sourdough.
A: If you use 50/50 of water and my wet sourdough, you end up with a sourdough bread that is somewhat more firm. If you want it to be light and air filled you should add the yeast too. Apart from that you can just use the same recipe.
Q: Does it matter that it ferments for more than 12 hours?
A: I ferment for between 8 and 20 hours. You can however over ferment it. Then the dough is completely runny and will not gather in a ball before it needs to rise for the final 2 hours. If you need to let it rise for 24 hours then let the first 8-12 of them be in the fridge.
Q: Can you bake a double portion bread:
A: I usually use two pots then. Otherwise you should use one ten liter pot and a meat thermometer. The internal temperature should be at least 94°C-98°C (201°F-208°F). Aim for 96°C (205°F). You can also also use a temperature probe on a regular portion. It is a VERY good method to check when the bread is done.
Q: How hot should the water be? Is lukewarm as in other recipes?
A: It is cold tap water. The dough ferments for so long that it does not mean anything. It is will reach room temperature in a short time.
Q: Can you use the dough for buns?
A: It is not good for buns. Too much crust in relation to crumb. But you can make sensible baguettes and fantastic pizza bases. For baguettes you should let the dough rise and then shape into a ball. Use a wide spatula and "pinch" six strips. Like with a cookie cutter. Not cutting. It destroys the bubbles. Now let them rise for 2 hours and put them in a 250°C (390°F) oven. Preferably on a hot pizza stone. You can make 2-4 pizzas from a portion of this dough. Depending on how big and thick you want them. 2 pizzas gives relatively thin pizzas that approx. fills an entire baking pan.
Q: What type of flour do you use?
Re : Plain white flour from the supermarket :-S It gives a good result. High protein is importan. Be aware that coarser flours absorb more water if you experiment.
Q: The temperatures are they with top and bottom heating or convection?
A: All my recipes is with convection.
If you have any other questions then feel free to ask ...