This basil and garlic loaf is perfect – crusty outside, chewy and airy inside, and it takes less than 10 minutes to throw the dough together…the rest is just rising. Seriously, this is my favorite of all the breads on this site, and I’ve made quite a few. Huge kudos to Mint + Basil for the original recipe! Anyone can make this, it’s so foolproof. Cooking it inside a big cast iron dutch oven steams the loaf to perfection, giving you that crust you’re looking for on great artisan bread. If you don’t have a dutch oven, never fear – you can get a similar effect by either adding a small pan of water to the bottom of the oven at the same time as you add the bread, or by spraying the baking loaf with a fine mist of water every 5-10 minutes while it’s in the oven.
Because this dough has to rise for a significant amount of time (8-24 hours), although this is the EASIEST BREAD EVER (felt I needed to say that again) it takes a little planning ahead to make. I find it’s best to throw together the dough right before bed the day before I know I’ll have time to bake it. I’ve actually made this recipe several times recently with different things in the dough for flavor, but the basil and garlic is my favorite so far. Other than this, I’ve also tried an olive loaf with both Kalamata olives and green pimento-stuffed olives, and a cheesy loaf with cheddar mixed both into the dough and sprinkled on top. All delicious – just put in what you have and what sounds good to you, and it’ll turn out well. I promise.
I should acknowledge that I’m the worst…I ghosted this blog for too long, but I have a good(ish) excuse: I’m moving away from Seoul after two years here, so I’ve had a lot of logistics on my plate. I’ve still been baking, I just haven’t been posting, so I’ve got some goodies saved up to share over the three weeks or so I’ll be on vacation back at home before we transition to Washington, DC. We’ll be there for the next two years, and I’m looking forward to getting inspiration from all the great restaurants and bakeries there!
Yield: 1 loaf Total Time: 9-25 hours (15 min active, 8-24 hours to rise, 45 min cook time)
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt (not table salt)
- ½ teaspoon dry active yeast (active dry or highly active dry work best)
- 1 ½ cups lukewarm water (warm water activates the yeast)
- 1 package of fresh basil, about 1-2 cups, roughly chopped
- 1 head of garlic, cloves separated and peeled
- In large bowl combine the flour, yeast, basil, garlic cloves, and salt. Stir in the lukewarm water until the mixture forms a shaggy but cohesive dough. Do not over-work the dough – mix only until you can’t see any white flour. It will be VERY sticky, but don’t worry, that’s the way it’s supposed to be.
- Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and let the dough rise at room temperature for 8-24 hours.
- When dough is ready, preheat the oven to 450° with the dutch oven, uncovered, inside.
- While preheating, turn the dough onto a well-floured surface. (It will still be VERY sticky, and again, don’t worry!) With floured hands, form the dough into a ball and cover it loosely with plastic wrap until the oven is preheated. You’ll have to get it very floury to be able to work with it, and the flour on the outside from handling it is part of what will make it beautiful when it’s baked.
- When the oven is ready, carefully remove the dutch oven and place the dough into it and immediately cover it. (If your dutch oven isn’t coated with enamel, you can put a piece of parchment paper underneath the dough to prevent it from sticking.)
- Place the covered dutch oven back into the oven and bake for 30 minutes. Carefully remove the cover and bake for an additional 15 additional minutes until bread is golden brown.
- When done, take the bread out of the dutch oven and put it on a cooling rack for at least 10-15 minutes before slicing into it, then enjoy!
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