Rustic No-Knead Bread

This is one of the easiest bread recipes I've ever made.  I now make homemade bread every other week just because it always works, tastes great, and takes little effort.  If you wish, you can substitute 1/2 cup whole wheat flour in this recipe.

3 cups bread or all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon instant yeast

1 teaspoon salt

1 1/4 cups hot tap water

1 1/2 tablespoons Olive Oil of your choice (I used Unflavored or Rosemary)

1 1/2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, minced, or other seasonings (optional)

Combine the flour, yeast and salt in a medium bowl.  Pour in the hot water and stir to make a dough.  Cover and let rise 3 hours (4 is fine -- this recipe is not fussy).

Lightly sprinkle your pastry board with a little flour.  Pour out the dough and fold the dough over itself several times with a dough scraper.  It won't really make a ball since it's a very wet dough, but it will stiffen enough to be able to move it.  (If you don't have a dough scraper, leave it in the first bowl and turn in over several times with an oiled spatula until it stiffens a bit; then pour it into the parchment-lined bowl noted in the next step.  It's messy, but it works.)

Place a piece of parchment paper in a medium-size bowl.  Move the dough to the bowl, using the dough scraper.  It doesn't need to look pretty.  Lightly cover with a towel or plastic wrap while the oven is heating.

Heat the oven to 450 degrees and place your Dutch oven and oven-proof lid in the oven to heat.  Once the oven is hot, about 20 minutes, carefully lift the parchment and dough into the Dutch oven and cover.  Bake 30 minutes.  Remove the cover and let bake another 15-30 minutes until the bread it deep golden and crusty.  Remove from the oven and place the bread and parchment on a rack.  Let cool.

* You can add seasonings like rosemary, grated cheese or other goodies if you wish.  I like to use Rosemary Olive Oil, 1 tablespoon minced rosemary and 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, for example.  Another idea is to use the Spicy Calabrian Pesto Olive Oil and 1/3 cup of our Basil Pesto.  And a third idea is to put in Butter Olive Oil, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/2 cup raisins and 1/2 cup chopped walnuts.

** Don't be tempted to cut into the bread before it's quite cool or it will become gummy.