Whole-Grain Artisan Breads for a Dutch Oven


rye bread 

A friend brought me a loaf of her sourdough multigrain bread baked in a Dutch oven and offered a starter of her sourdough. Somehow, I have a black thumb with sourdough, so I set out to develop a recipe with well developed flavor, skipping the care and feeding of a long-term starter.

Two well developed starters and a three-day process worked really well. With that done, other grains and flavors came along naturally. You’ll spend just a few minutes the first two days, but plan ahead so you have fresh delicious bread the day you want it.

Some methods for Dutch oven baking say to rise the dough in a bowl or whatever, heat the Dutch oven and then slide the risen dough into a 450 degree cast iron pot. The danger of burns and deflated dough helped me decide to go with the cold Dutch oven. Cold works perfectly, I promise.

If the weather forecast is for several cold days in a row, I don’t clean the bowls. When you pour the Starter #1 into Starter #2, mix up another batch. When you mix the final dough and turn it onto the board to stretch and fold, mix up another Starter #2. It’s great to have really good bread stashed in the freezer when the weather turns too hot to turn on the big oven.

My Dutch oven is a 6 quart so this is a huge loaf.  I usually cut it in half and freeze half for later.  If you have a 4 quart, reduce the recipe to 2/3. Divide by 3, then multiply by 2 for the quantities for a 4 quart Dutch oven.  Conversely, if you find another recipe for a 4 quart and have a 6 quart Dutch oven, divide by 2 and multiply by 3 to increase the recipe.

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