homemade bread

Making Cast Iron White Bread

Seems like almost every magazine in the couple years features an article about  bread made in 5 minute a day, rising slowly overnight, and baked the following day, often in a cast iron pot.  I like making yeast breads .  I like the calm repetitive motions of kneading bread dough, and the small of bread fresh from the oven.

I tried it the overnight 5 minute bread once, but was not impressed with my results.  After thinking about what might have caused the failure, I decided to try again, with just a basic white bread recipe.

Since the bread takes 12-18 hours to rise, you need to plan ahead.  It would be hard to make in one day for dinner tonight.

Some things I decides were important:  my cast iron Dutch oven is too large to make a decent loaf of bread – the dough just spreads out too much. None of my skillets had a cover.  So I found a 3 quart cast iron covered pot on Amazon -the perfect size.  It makes a nice round loaf of bread 4-5 inches high.  Make sure your pot has a oven proof cover, because you will need it for baking the bread.  You could probably use a ceramic or metal dutch oven as well, but I wanted to use the cast iron because I wanted a crispy crust.

I decided to use a bit more yeast than the original recipe.

I left the dough a good 18 hours, by starting it one afternoon, leaving it set overnight and then baking at about 10 am.

And it came out perfect.  A chewy, crispy crust and lovely airy, holey rustic bread inside.  I waiting the required hour before slicing, and then got some soft butter out.  I tasted wonderful.

Some of the variations below are of my own design.  The original recipe was published in Grits Guide to Cast-Iron Cooking Aug 2017.

5 minute overnight white bread

Cast iron white bread

Basic Cast Iron White Bread

3 c bread flour

1.5 tsp salt

½ packet of yeast (about 1 tsp)

1.5-1.75 cups cool water

Coarse cornmeal for dusting

  1. Whisk flour, salt, and yeast together in a large mixing bowl or stand mixer bowl.
  2. Add 1.5 cups of water and stir until you have a wet, sticky mass of dough. Add more water as needed.  This dough will be shaggy and wet, not like a dough that you would knead.
  3. Cover the bow with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature, out of sunlight, for 12-18 hours (overnight is good).
  4. After the time has elapsed, your dough will be bubbly and may smell like alcohol, and it has doubled in size. It is still loose and sticky – do not add any more flour.  Dust a board or counter with flour, and turn the dough out, using plastic dough scrapers to get it all out.  Dust the top with flour, cover with a cotton or linen towel  (terry towels will leave fuzzy’ s on the dough!).  Let rest 1-2 hours.
  5. 30 minutes or so prior to baking, turn on the oven to 475 degrees F. place your 3 ½ quart cast iron pan inside to preheat as well.  I used the middle of the oven.
  6. Once the oven finishes preheating, take out the pot – carefully, the cast iron is REALLY HOT. Sprinkle about 1 tsp of coarse cornmeal in the bottom.
  7. Uncover the dough, and using the scrapers, shape the dough into a rough ball, tuning it a few times. Then lift and scrape into the hot pan.  Dust with more cornmeal if desired.
  8. Put the cover on the pot and bake at 475F for 30 minutes. Then remove the cover and bake another 15 minutes or so until the bread is browned.
  9. Remove the pot form the oven, and using a sturdy spatula (wood or metal), remove the loaf and place on a cooling rack. Let rest at least 1 hour before slicing.

Variations:

Oat raisin:  using some oat flour and garnish with rolled Oats on top, add raisins to the dough.

Rye or whole wheat:  Use part rye/ whole wheat flour, (about ¾ c total in the recipe) and rye or whole wheat flour for the dusting top and bottom

Herb bread:  add some dried dill, thyme, sage or a combination of herbs (about 2 tbsp) to the dough before rising.

Spice bread:  rather than herbs, add in some cardamom, cinnamon, or pumpkin pie spice.

What kinds of bread have you baked in a cast iron pot?

Do you like the 5 minutes a day kind of bread, or would you rather have a more traditional hand kneaded loaf?

bread baked in cast iron

sliced white bread

 

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One thought on “Making Cast Iron White Bread

  1. Jenny Whitman says:

    This looks wonderful! I’m salivating already. I have a couple of good cast iron skillets that belonged to my husband’s mother. I use them often in cooking, but have not tried baking in them. I’m in the same boat as you were and do not have a lid for my skillets. I do have a dutch oven with a lid that would probably work, though. Thanks for the recipe!

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