Lisa Clawson, contributing writer
3 cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon (yep only ½ teaspoon) yeast
1 ¾ teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cup water (not hot and not cold; just water)
Add-ins of choice: I used ¾ cup dried cranberries and the zest of 1 lemon today, but you can use raisins, cinnamon, cheese, garlic, herbs, or spices (Montreal Steak Seasoning is great). Let your imagination take you wherever you want to go. Sweet or savory — you decide.
In a large bowl combine all the ingredients and stir until blended; only a minute. It doesn’t look pretty, but don’t worry. Cover with plastic wrap and let the dough sit for 12-24 hours. It will rise a little and start to look really wet and bubbly — this is good. I have used the dough as early as 8 hours and as late as 36 hours later, and it always works — this is a very forgiving recipe.
After the long rest, turn dough out onto a floured surface. Lightly turn the dough onto itself a few times. Don’t knead this, you’re more or less just roughly forming the dough. Let it sit for 20 minutes. In the meantime, place your Dutch oven in a 450-degrees-Fahrenheit oven while it is preheating. The pan needs to stay in the hot oven about 20 minutes. Take the hot pan out of the oven and place the dough ball in the pan (you don’t need any grease or butter for the pan). The dough will kind of wrinkle up and look terrible, but trust me, it will look amazing in about an hour. With a sharp knife cut an X into the top of your dough. This will help it “tear” in a real rustic way. Place the lid on top of the Dutch oven and place the pan back in the oven.
Bake for 30 minutes at 450 degrees Fahrenheit with the lid on. Take the lid off and bake another 20 mins. The crust should brown nicely and when you tap the top of the bread it should sound hollow. Remove the bread from the pan and let cool.
YIELD: 1 one-and-one-half pound loaf