This is my third, and best, loaf of bread. I recruited my friend Max to be my taste-tester, and he agrees that this is the best of the three. After eating the bread I helped him with his online dating profile. Fair trade.
I tend to aggressively spice my bread with whole fennel seeds, but you need not put so much fennel in your bread. Just a pinch, crushed or ground, will do.
You only need a few minutes of active time to make this bread. Then you go to bed, go to work, or marathon watch tv while the dough gets all bubbly overnight. When you come home or finally get off your couch, you just shape and bake!
The dough will feel like goop, but don’t worry if you’re not used to making this kind of rustic bread, it’s supposed to be pretty wet and sticky. For this reason I just scrape it out onto a well floured tea towel and flip it from side to side until the front of my shirt is totally covered in a white flour storm.
The dough might look craggy and lumpy, but it will turn out great! Plus you will live for those big, sweet apricot chunks.
Thick slices are incredible with salt and pepper smashed avocado, buttered, dipped in shakshuka, or simply plain.
- Whisk the flour, yeast, salt, and fennel seeds in a large bowl. Add the water, apricots, and pistachios. Mix until evenly blended. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it rest for 12-18 hours.
- When you are ready to bake, generously flour a tea towel, cloth napkin, or cutting board. Scrape the dough away from the sides of the bowl with a mixing spatula, then grease your hands and shape it into a ball. Turn it out onto the floured surface. Sift more flour over the top of the dough, then cover with another towel. Let it rise for 1-2 more hours. The dough should double in size.
- 30 minutes before your dough is ready, preheat your oven to 450 degrees F with your dutch oven on the middle rack. After 30 minutes of preheating, use a very sharp knife or bread knife to score your dough with half inch deep slits in a cross or tic tac toe pattern. It's okay if it deflates a little. Gently place your dough inside the dutch oven. If the dough lands unevenly, just shake the dutch oven to distribute the dough evenly. You can also place the dough on a sheet of parchment paper and lower that into the dutch oven. I use an enameled dutch oven and have never had trouble with the dough sticking to the pot after it's baked, but parchment paper makes it easier to put the dough in and take it back out.
- Cover the dutch oven with the lid and place it back into the oven. If you don't have a lid or the knob on the lid can't handle 450 degrees F, simply cover the dutch oven with a baking sheet.
- Bake for 30 minutes with the lid on, then remove the lid, rotate the dutch oven halfway, and bake for an additional 15-30 minutes with the lid off, depending on how brown you like the crust to be.
- When the bread is done, remove it from the dutch oven and let it cool on a rack. I just flip the dutch oven upside down onto the rack. Serve the bread immediately or, if storing, wrap in a cotton towel after cooling. Don't wrap it in something airtight, because any trapped warmth inside the bread will create steam and make the crust tough instead of crispy. You'll need a bread knife to slice through the crust.