No-Knead Balloon Bread Loaf #10

The 18 Hour Fermented Dough

The Shaped Dough 6 to 6-1/2 by 2 Inches High

The 2 Hour Proofed Dough 8 to 8-1/2 by 2 Inches High

Dough Placed into the Hot Dutch Oven

The Bread Baked 20 Minutes with the Lid on

The Bread Placed on a Baking Sheet to Bake for 10 More Minutes

The 4 Inch High Loaf Cooling and Still Crisp

The Beautiful Crumb

The Sliced Loaf One Slice Held up to The Light

Well that's what it looked like--an inflated balloon! I love the 80% hydration and may even increase it for the next go round. But this is pretty close to my idea of perfection for this bread. I haven't yet tried it in the Lodge 5 quart enamel cast iron as they are temporarily out of stock and I'm sure it's due to this bread technique! But the reason I wanted to try it is because some people have reported problems with sticking in cast iron. This would not be the case if they used the Lodge pre-seasoned Dutch oven or if they already have a well-seasoned one. Lodge's website has great directions for seasoning cast iron if/when it needs it. I've never had the bread stick in my reseasoned cast iron Dutch oven and the pot keeps getting blacker and more beautiful through use.

My Final (to Date) Recipe Weights and Volume

Harvest King flour or half unbleached all-purpose half bread flour: 468 grams (about 3 cups)

room temperature water: 382 grams, 1-1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons/13 fluid ounces)

instant yeast: 0.8 grams/1/4 teaspoon salt: 10 grams/1-2/3 teaspoons

NEW TIPS Although free-form bread (baked on a stone) has the largest holes, 80% hydration is holey enough for me and I like the full 4 inch over-all height the Dutch oven side support gives it. When bread is this moist and sticky, for shaping you need to scrape it onto a well- floured surface, and lightly flour the top before patting it down gently. Then use a bench scraper to help lift it for shaping. Latex gloves work wonderfully to keep it from sticking to your fingers if you're not comfortable with handling super sticky doughs. Set the shaped dough on a coarse-weave towel sprinkled amply with bran.

No need to sprinkle the top as it should have enough flour from the counter. Bread with 80% hydration will spread to about 8-1/2 inches and only rise to 2 inches when fully proofed and ready to bake. At 80˚F/26˚C. this takes 2 hours.

Latex gloves are ideal for transferring it to the hot Dutch oven. I use one end of the towel to flip the dough onto my hand and then slide my other hand under it and lift it over the pot. I set it as close to the bottom of the pot as I can without risking burning my hands and then drop it in the rest of the way.

I got the most marvelously thin and crisp crust by baking at 450˚F./230˚C for 20 minutes lid on, 10 minutes lid off, transferred to a baking sheet and 10 minutes more. Then 5 minutes oven propped ajar a few inches, then 5 minutes oven off and door open. Now back to my new cake book manuscript!