crusty whole wheat bread

My quest to find the best bread recipe is slowly progressing. I made a couple of loaves this past semester at Haverford, one of which approached perfection. Last night, I decided to venture into the land of baking bread in a pot, and I  mixed dough that would be baked 18 hours later in a soup pot in my oven.

Crusy Whole Wheat Bread (Adapted from the Mark Bittman via Serene Journey)
Yields 1 loaf

3 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon active dry yeast
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1 3/4 cups water

Combine whole wheat flour, yeast, and salt in a bowl. Stir in as much of the water as you need to make a sticky dough.

Cover with plastic wrap and let sit for 12 to 18 hours. After that time, pour the dough out onto a floured surface and fold it twice onto itself. Let rest for 15 minutes under plastic wrap.

Heavily flour a cotton towel, but not terry cloth. Place the dough on the towel, and drape with another. Let rise for 2 hours. Thirty minutes before the rise time is complete, preheat the oven to 450° F. Place your heaviest pot in the oven, ideally cast iron or enamel.

When the dough has fully risen, it will have doubled in size and not spring back to the touch. At this point, remove the pot from the oven and turn the dough over into it. Shake it around a bit to even it out. Place the pot back in the oven, making sure the lid is on. Bake for 30 minutes with the lid on and 15-30 minutes with the lid off, to ensure a crispy, browned crust.

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