I like to serve this whole loaf at the table, let guests tear off what they want,
and dip into single servings of warm olive oil infused with herbs. You will need
a cast iron Dutch oven with a lid to make this recipe.
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon salt
3 cups hot water
2 packages dry yeast
7 to 7 1/2 cups unbleached flour
In a very large bowl combine butter, sugar, salt and hot water. Stir only
until butter is melted. Set aside so ingredients can cool until they are warm.
Stir in yeast. Cover and set aside in a warm place until it bubbles, about
Add 5 cups flour and beat vigorously with a large wooden spoon until batter
Add more flour (about 2 cups) to form a stiff dough.
Knead, with long strokes, for about 10 minutes on a floured board. Add only
enough flour to prevent sticking.
Place dough in a large greased bowl; cover with a damp dish towel, and let
rise in a warm place until doubled — about 1 1/2 hours.
Punch down and knead for about 10 minutes. Form a smooth ball.
Using solid shortening, generously grease sides and inside lid of a cast
iron Dutch oven. Cut a round of foil and place in the bottom of Dutch oven.
Dust it lightly with flour.
Place dough in Dutch oven and cover. Let rise in a warm place until dough
pushes up lid.
Heat oven to 375 degrees F.
Place Dutch oven in middle of oven. Bake for 12 minutes.
Carefully loosen any raw edges with knife, then lift off lid. The lid's
circled print should be on top of the loaf. Bake bread, uncovered, for 45 to
50 minutes more or until golden. Cover loosely with foil the last 20 minutes
to prevent overbrowning.
Remove from oven.
Loosen loaf from Dutch oven with a flat table knife, and place on a wire
rack to cool.