5 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup wheat germ (or more all-purpose flour)
1/2 teaspoon yeast
2 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 2/3 cups cool water
Directions & Notes:
1. In a large bowl, mix the flour, wheat germ, yeast, and salt.
2. Add the cool water and stir. Dough should look like a wet mess and be sticky.
3. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow to rise for 12- 18 hours. I’ve let mine rise for up to 48 hours and it’s been fine. The dough doesn’t have to be in a particularly warm place, but if your kitchen is particularly cold (like mine in the winter with no heat), in my experience the dough doesn’t rise well. So just somewhere room-temperaturey is nice. When the rising is finished, the surface of the dough should be slightly darkened, look bubbly, and smell yeasty. 4. After the 12-18 hours, turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Divide dough into 2 balls. Dust the top of the balls with flour or wheat germ, cover with a kitchen towel, and allow the dough to rise again for two hours until doubled in size.
5. During the last 30 minutes of this rise time, place a 2-3 quart heavy covered oven-safe pot into a cool oven and preheat the oven to 435 degrees. It’s important for this pot to become very, very hot before the dough is added. For the pot, a cast iron Dutch oven works well. I don’t have one, so I use the clay insert from my slow cooker and simply cover it with tinfoil.
6. When the dough has completed its second rising and the heavy pot in the oven is hot, pull the pot out of the oven, remove the top, grab the first ball of dough and flop it down inside the pot, tightly recover the pot and return to the oven. Three things… first, it is absolutely not necessary to oil or flour the inside of the pot in any way; the high heat takes care of making sure the bread forms a hard outer shell and comes out of the pot with no sticking later. Second, it doesn’t really matter how the dough looks when you flop it down in the pot, where the seams are, etc. Just give the pot a good shake to even it out a bit, and it will all work out. This is hard to mess up. Third, do cover the pot well with the tinfoil or other covering. The steam inside the pot is important.
7. Bake covered for 40 minutes, then uncover and bake 10-15 more minutes until the crust is a dark golden brown.
8. Remove the bread from the pot and allow it to cool completely before slicing… I know, warm bread is so awesome, but for the sake of texture and taste, it really is better to wait until this stuff cools.
9. Repeat to make a second loaf (If your pot is big enough, you can make one big loaf instead of two smaller ones with about the same bake times. The original recipe called for just one loaf made in a 6-8 quart pot.)
There’s so much that can be done with this bread… experimenting with substituting oat flour or whole wheat flour, adding flavors, spices, or mix-ins, etc. Extra bread is great for croutons, French toast, etc.
This recipe just slightly adapted from Frugallivingnw.com.