I’ve loved the Fall ever since I was a child. Wearing a new sweater, the air cool and orange leaves dancing in the wind as we walked up the hill on our first day of school. I grew up in Ontario and by September, Summer felt like a distant memory.
I remember walking at High Park on a Sunday with my family. The sun low in the sky shimmering through half bare branches, the air nipping my cheeks while snacking on a candy apple, leaves crunching underfoot.
Here on the Pacific Northwest Coast where I now call home, Autumn comes slowly then suddenly. I prepared the home a couple of days before the Equinox. Warm blankets come down from the top of the wood cabinet to dress the bed. Candles and earthy elements dot home decor; a bowl filled with pinecones, a table runner printed with pumpkin vines, plaid pillows and cozy throws for the couch.
The weekend was sunny but has since been replaced; today is grey and soggy foretelling the months to come. The first windstorms will arrive and nightfall by 5pm. Each season carries it’s own unique beauty.
As the days get shorter and life turns inward, the home is a place of solace. A place where puzzles, Jenga games that go on for days, movie nights and enjoying candle-lit dinners with friends becomes center stage.
Today I am making the Autumn home and nothing says Autumn better than baking. I’m going share my super easy-to-make bread recipe. This bread can be made in just a few hours with simple ingredients and baked in a dutch oven. No kneading or waiting for the dough to raise overnight. I’ve prepared my dough this morning and it’s sitting on the kitchen counter waiting to be baked an hour before dinner. We’ll have warm buttery bread with our soup tonight.
You will need:
3 cups bread flour or all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon yeast (any kind will do)
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups hot water (NOT OVER 130° F)
About 2 Tablespoons extra flour for shaping
Saran/Plastic food wrap
A Dutch oven or oven-proof pot (no plastic handles or lids!)
In a large bowl, add your Flour, Yeast and 1 teaspoon of Salt and combine.
Add 1 1/2 cups of very hot water (not boiling, just as hot as you can get it from the tap is fine) this will help the dough rise quickly. Mix and it will turn somewhat flaky.
Wrap the bowl in saran (plastic) wrap and leave it to sit on the countertop for 3 hours (at least).
After 3 hours you will see that the dough might have small bubbles on the top and has grown a bit in size.
Transfer the dough onto a well floured surface. The dough will feel very sticky but that’s how it’s supposed to be.
Using a scraper or a large spatula, fold the dough over itself a few times, flip it over and form into a large ball. Place the dough into a bowl lined with parchment paper and cover it with a towel and let it sit on the counter while the oven heats up.
Set the oven to 450. Place the Dutch Oven into the oven while it’s heating. You want the Dutch Oven to be very hot before the dough goes into it.
Once the oven has reached 450, pull the Dutch Oven out and place the parchment paper with the dough straight into the Dutch Oven, cover with the lid and place back into the oven to bake.
Let it bake for 30 minutes.
Once your timer goes off at 30 minutes, pull the dutch oven out and place on a safe surface and dispose of the parchment paper. You’ll see the bread is almost fully done but what we want to do now is create a nice crust for it so… place the bread back into the dutch oven this time without the lid and let it bake for an extra 15 minutes (or more depending on how crispy you want the crust).
You should now have a beautiful brown crust on the top. Pull the bread out onto a cooling rack for a few minutes then slice and enjoy!
Note: you can add other ingredients to your dough like cheese, herbs like dill, olives, jalapenos, nuts, raisins or even sesame seeds overtop.
I wish you a warm Autumn season.