Bread making experts can tell you all about making bread… The do’s, the don’ts and all the chemistry and nutrition factors involved. But let’s face it – some days you just want/need to learn a new skill that is quick, easy, inexpensive and satisfying to the mouth, the soul and the pocketbook.
Cast Iron Bread Making is one such skill. …and what is really great is that it is a skill that can and should be practiced and enjoyed now.
Here’s what I like about my recipe:
- It’s easy
- It tastes good
- It’s flexible
- It requires no kneading
- It’s cheap to make
- It saves on yeast (good if you are limited in how much you have or while you wait for a sourdough culture to form)
- The finished product adds nutrition, diversity, and fiber to a diet
- Good homemade bread is a great barter item
The “Down and Dirty” Recipe:
Grind 3 cups of wheat and then grind it again until it is very fine.
Put the finely ground wheat into a small plastic food grade bucket with a lid and add 1 tsp. of yeast and 1 ½ tsp. of salt. Mix up these three ingredients well and then add 1 1/3 cups of water (or whey if you make cheese and have a dairy goat/cow) combined with 2 Tbs. of honey, maple syrup, molasses or sorghum. Stir up the mixture until you have a wet mess of sticky dough and then cover it and let it sit for 18-24 hours.
When you open the bucket you will see that the dough has risen and appears a bit frothy. Scrape it out onto a floured counter and quickly shape it into a round ball by tucking the ends under it – add just enough flour to maintain its shape. Place the dough ball on a floured cloth towel and cover the ball completely with the towel. I flour the towel with coarse ground wheat as we like a dark, coarse, chewy crust.
Stick the towel covered dough in a glass bowl and let the bread rise again for 4 hours (or more based on room temperature). Turn your oven (or gas grill) on and set it at 450 degrees. (You can also dig a hole and build a charcoal/wood fire nearby and place coals below the pot and on top of the lid – this takes more skill and practice but is doable.) Place your seasoned cast iron pot with lid in the oven and let the oven and pan heat up for a half hour.
After the half hour is up, carefully remove pan from the oven and quickly place the dough ball in the pan. Cover it quickly with the heated lid and then put it back in the oven for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes remove the lid and bake for another 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and let the bread sit until cool.
That’s it. You can adjust the recipe by adding more sweetener, dried fruits, spices, different kinds of flour, seeds, nuts, herbs, cheese, etc. Bread is a staple that can be used in many meals and adds food diversity and calories. It is filling and in times of stress acts as comfort food for many of us. Make a sandwich, a bread bowl for soup/beans, a pizza, croutons, a meat pocket, etc.
Have a nice day