When I pulled this bread out of the oven, based on my excitement, you would have thought that I had just won the lottery. I think I might have even exclaimed "I AM THE BREAD MAKING MASTER OF THE UNIVERSE" so loud that the neighbors heard me. Just kidding. That was all in my head, but that is how I felt.
I always thought that baking breads like this at home was impossible and reserved just for the professional bread bakers. Well, I am here to tell you that you too can make beautiful, rustic, crusty loaves of bread. And you want to know the best part? It was so easy!
This recipe comes from Janet over at Simply So Good. Her blog is one of my absolute favorite places to get lost in recipes. She too, posts step-by-step pictures for all of her recipes, making it so easy to follow along. If you head over to her blog, you will see that this is her most popular recipe and it is there where she has the answers to any and all of the questions you may have about this bread.
This bread is so flipping good. Just as good as any bakery bread out there. Minimal ingredients. Minimal effort. Fabulous result. I'm sold.
I use it as my crockpot for many slow cooking dishes. And now, it is a bread maker as well! Preheat oven to 450 and then place pot and lid in oven for 30 minutes.
Once pan has been heating in the 450 degree oven for 30 minutes, take it out and remove the lid. Drop the ball of dough right into that hot pan. You will hear a slight sizzle... an indication of the crusty-crust to come! I sprinkled a little more flour on the top for a bakery-like appearance.
Now, bake with lid on for 30 minutes. The waiting was agony. I have failed breads too many times and was seeing images of flat or burnt breads from the past in my head. But when the 30 minutes was up and I removed the lid, this is what I saw...
WHAT?!?!?! I DID IT!!! Oh and it smelled soooooo good. I could now breathe a sigh of relief. Smooth sailing from here. Just a little bit more time in the oven with the lid off and you are now THE BREAD MAKING MASTER OF THE UNIVERSE!! Slather with butter and enjoy!
Parmesan Thyme Crusty Bread
3 cups flour (I used bread flour but all purpose works as well)
1 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon dry yeast
2 teaspoons fresh thyme
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 1/2 cups warm water
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, yeast, thyme and Parmesan cheese. Pour water in and mix with a spatula until combined. The mixture will be dry so try to use your hands to knead all of the dry bits into the dough. If needed, add 1 or 2 tablespoons of water and lightly knead until a ball is formed.
Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let it sit on your kitchen counter for 12-18 hours. When time has passed and dough has risen, preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Once oven has heated, place enamel pot and lid in oven for 30 minutes.
While pot is heating in the oven, heavily flour your counter. Pour the dough out onto the floured surface. Using floured hands, gently form the dough into a smooth ball. Cover with plastic wrap and let it sit on the counter until the pan is ready.
When the 30 minutes is up, remove pan from the oven. Do not grease the pan. Drop the ball of dough directly into the hot pot. I sprinkled a little more flour on top to get that authentic bakery look. Place lid on pot and return bread to oven and cook for 30 minutes.
Once the 30 minutes is up, remove the pot from oven and take the lid off of the pan. Place pan back in the oven without the lid and cook for another 12-15 minutes. Remove from oven and with pot holders or a kitchen towel, remove bread from pan and place on a cooling rack. Let bread cool for at least 40 minutes before cutting.