As I understand it, this recipe came from, or at the very least appeared in, Cook’s Illustrated. It came to me, however, printed on a white sheet of paper and tucked into my favorite Christmas present of 2008: a Le Creuset 6 3/4 Quart French oven. After eating this bread The Yankee pronounced that the oven had actually been a gift to himself, it turned out. I like his perspective. Also, this recipe requires three ounces of beer, leaving nine ounces that someone just has to drink. The Yankee makes many, many sacrifices in the name of my cooking.
So, the recipe:
15 oz. unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 t. instant yeast
1 1/2 t. salt (I use kosher; not sure it matters)
7 oz. room-temperature water
3 oz. mild-flavored lager
1 T. white vinegar
1. Whisk flour, yeast, and salt in large bowl. Add water, beer, and vinegar. Fold mixture until shaggy ball forms. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for 8 to 18 hours.
Behold a shaggy ball:
2. Transfer dough to lightly floured work surface and knead 10 to 15 times. Shape dough into ball. Transfer dough, seam-side down, to parchment-lined 10-inch skillet. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise until dough has doubled in size, about 2 hours.
3. About 30 minutes before baking, place 6- to 8-quart heavy-bottomed Dutch oven AND LID on lowest rack, and preheat oven to 475 degrees. Sprinkle loaf lightly with flour and make one slash, about 1/4″ deep, along top of dough. Take preheated pot out of oven and remove lid. Pick up dough by the edges of the parchment and ease into pot. Put lid back on and place in oven. Reduce temperature to 425 and bake, covered, for 30 minutes. Remove lid and bake another 20 to 30 minutes, until loaf is deep brown and measure 180 degrees in the center. Transfer to wire rack and cool.
Bready yeasty goodness:
I’m hungry all over again just looking at this. Yum. We serve this with, um, anything. Or nothing. My mother-in-law, who is diabetic, chooses this over dessert when she’s here. That’s a compliment!