18 Hour Crusty "Slow Bread" Cooked in a Dutch Oven

18 Hour Crusty "Slow Bread" Cooked in a Dutch Oven
Recipe type: Bread
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 1 loaf
This is the antithesis of a "quick bread" taking 18 hours or so to make, but with very little effort and the wait is worth it. The bread comes out crusty with a chewy interior and a slight sourdough flavor. Mix up this no-knead dough after dinner and bake it for breakfast or start it at bedtime and bake it for lunch or dinner. This is a simple, rustic bread with a hard crunchy crust that is perfect for sandwiches or dunking into soups and stews. <br><br>Please note the tiny amount of yeast used: if you use a full package the dough will rise too quickly and collapse before the 18 hours is up.
  • 4 cups unbleached AP flour
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt (preferred) or iodized salt
  • ½ teaspoon active or instant rise yeast (about ¼ of a package)
  • 2 cups water (divided)
  1. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients. Add 1-1/2 to 1-3/4 cups water and mix with a wooden spoon until combined into a rough stiff dough. Add additional water if needed, but keep it as a stiff, shaggy dough. Get all the flour combined but don't worry about how bad it looks.
  2. Cover bowl with plastic wrap (I like Press-n-Seal) and set aside in a warm place for 12-18 hours. Overnight works great.
  3. Set oven temperature to 450 degrees. While still cool, place a 12" cast iron pot with a lid in the oven and heat the oven and pot/lid for 30 minutes.
  4. While oven and pot are heating, pour dough onto a heavily floured surface. You may need to put a little flour on top of the sponge to get it out of the bowl. Punch it down thoroughly with fingertips, and shape into a ball. Roll ball loosely between well-floured hands to smooth the surface of the dough ball.
  5. To keep the dough ball from drying out, cover with flour-powdered plastic wrap and leave on countertop while the oven heats. Or, just flip the mixing bowl upside down over the ball.
  6. Remove hot dutch oven from the oven, remove the lid, and drop in the dough. Replace lid and return to oven for 30 minutes.
  7. After 30 minutes remove the lid and bake an additional 15 minutes.
  8. Remove bread from oven and place on a cooling rack to cool.



  1. Diane 19 April, 2023 at 09:47

    I have made this and it is delicious. I tried it with gluten free bread and didn’t turn out as well. Do you have a tweaked recipe for using gluten free flour?

  2. Mike 19 April, 2023 at 10:48

    Making a lean bread without wheat gluten is hard to do. I don’t have a good gluten free bread recipe. Biscuits and scones _do_ work pretty well with gluten free flour, as they don’t depend on gluten to hold them together. In fact, overkneading biscuits and scones makes them tough. You might try this scone recipe using gluten free flour: http://www.culinarymusings.com/2012/06/blueberry-scones/

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