Bread and Dutch Oven

Adapted from Jim Lahey, Sullivan Street Bakery

Time: About 1½ hours plus 14 to 20 hours’ rising

Single Batch

3 cups all-purpose or bread flour, more

for dusting (try ½ whole wheat/½white)

¼ teaspoon instant yeast

1¼ teaspoons salt

1? cups water

Cornmeal or wheat bran as needed.


1½ Batch

4.5 cups flour, more

for dusting (try ½ whole wheat/½white)

.375 tsp yeast

1.875 tsp salt

2¼ cups water


  1. In a large bowl combine flour, yeast and salt. Add 1 5/8 cups water, and stir until blended; dough will be shaggy and sticky. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rest at least 12 hours, preferably about 18, at warm room temperature, about 70 degrees.


  1. Dough is ready when its surface is dotted with bubbles. Lightly flour a work surface and place dough on it; sprinkle it with a little more flour and fold it over on itself once or twice. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest about 15 minutes.


  1. Using just enough flour to keep dough from sticking to work surface or to your fingers, gently and quickly shape dough into a ball. Generously coat a cotton towel (not terry cloth) with flour, wheat bran or cornmeal; put dough seam side down on towel and dust with more flour, bran or cornmeal. Cover with another cotton towel and let rise for about 2 hours. When it is ready, dough will be more than double in size and will not readily spring back when poked with a finger.


  1. At least a half-hour before dough is ready, heat oven to 450 degrees. Put a 6- to 8-quart (we have used 3.5 qt and up) heavy covered pot (cast iron, enamel, Pyrex or ceramic) in oven as it heats. When dough is ready, carefully remove pot from oven. Slide your hand under towel and turn dough over into pot, seam side up; it may look like a mess, but that is O.K. Shake pan once or twice if dough is unevenly distributed; it will straighten out as it bakes. Cover with lid and bake 30 minutes, then remove lid and bake another 15 to 30 minutes, until loaf is beautifully browned. Cool on a rack.


Yield: One 1½-pound loaf.

Cook’s Illustrated May/June 2012

They discovered you can eliminate the 30 minute preheating and start the process in an unheated pot in a cold oven.  Place dough in cold pot, place in cold oven and simply set the oven dial to 425ºF * (rather than 500ºF).  Second, don’t start your timer until the oven has reached 425ºF.  After that point, bake for 30 minutes with the lid on and then 20 to 30 minutes with the lid removed.

*temperature for above recipe is 450ºF