I made my first "hot pot" loaf for Christmas Eve last year. It was a beautiful loaf, dotted with salty olive slices, and sweet, creamy cubes of aged Gruyere cheese. The original recipe, Olive and Cheese Loaf, is a Martha Stewart recipe from Martha Bakes, 1211.
For my Hot Pot Bread rendition you'll need a cast iron Dutch oven to produce that crispy crust. I use an enameled 3 1/2 quart Dutch oven, but the lid's handle can't be in an oven over 375F so I unscrew the lid's handle and stuff the screw hole with a little aluminum foil to keep the moisture in my pot, which is key to providing the proper humidity for crisping up your crust.
HOT POT BREADThe night before: Mix up your bread dough.
3 cups unbleached flour, bread or all purpose
1/3 cup bran (I use a mixture of wheat and oat bran)
4 tablespoons flax seed meal
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon yeast
1 1/2 cups warm water
NOTE: You could also make this bread without the bran and flax meal and decrease the water by 1/4 cup.
- In a medium bowl: Whisk all your dry ingredients together to thoroughly incorporate.
- In a large bowl: Pour in 1 1/2 cups warm water.
- Add dry ingredients; stir with wooden spoon until well mixed.
- Cover with plastic wrap and sit on counter/bench overnight or 12 to 18 hours.
- In the morning: Preheat oven and ungreased Dutch oven to 500F, remembering to remove your lid's handle and stuffing the hole with aluminum foil. This should take about 15 minutes.
- Meanwhile, on a floured surface knead your bread dough for 1 minute, adding enough flour to keep dough soft, but not sticky.
- Tuck dough under forming a round and place on parchment paper or a tea towel.
- When oven is up to temperature: Pull out rack, carefully remove cover and drop bread into pot smooth side up.
- Snip an X about 1/2-inch deep into the top of bread with kitchen scissors.
- Cover pot and bake for 30 minutes.
- Remove lid and bake for another 15 minutes.
- Dump bread out onto cooling rack, cool before slicing.
When we returned home from shopping this evening, I was starving! We threw chicken breasts on the grill but they would take some time so . . . I cut into my Hot Pot Bread! We couldn't stop eating it! First we had a couple slices with butter, then butter and a good slathering of peanut butter! I've taken a rather plain loaf and added bran and flax seed meal to add depth of flavor and make this a healthier, heart-smart, cholesterol lowering, high fiber, artisan bread . . . Over at Julie's!!!
P.S. No one needs to know this bread is actually good for them, because the flavor and texture are incredible!