Welcome to Field Company’s inaugural Bread Camp. To celebrate the release of our first Dutch oven, we’ve assembled a package of stories and recipes that show you how this one tool—and a few basic ingredients—will help you bake artisan-quality bread at home, as often as you want.
Bread Camp is designed for newbies who will be attempting their first loaves or developing their first sourdough starters, as well as those who’ve dabbled with dough, but who want a better understanding of the basic hows and whys of bread baking.
Why Go Dutch?
All of the bread recipes in this package were designed to be baked in the No.8 Field Dutch Oven. While you can certainly bake bread in other vessels or right on a baking steel or stone, a cast-iron Dutch oven creates the perfect, steamy environment for developing a dark, crispy crust—qualities you typically need a commercial, steam-injection oven to achieve. And unlike many Dutch ovens coated with enamel or ceramic, ours is oven-safe at any temperature, and its naturally non-stick seasoning will improve every time you use it. Our Dutch oven is also the lightest on the market for its size, which will make transferring your loaves to and from the oven a safe, easy task.
Where to Begin?
If you’ve never attempted homemade bread before, we highly recommend starting with our No.8 No-Knead Bread recipe using whatever flour you have on hand. This loaf takes only a few minutes to prepare, and lets time (and food science!) do most of the work. Mix your dough today, and you’ll be slicing into a bakery-quality loaf tomorrow. Our method also introduces you to some basic bread-shaping techniques that you’ll use once you’re ready to take the next step into sourdough breads.
After you’ve made a loaf or two and are ready to restock your for more baking adventures, check out our deep dive on bread’s most-important ingredient: flour. Here, you’ll learn how to select the best flours for making bread, whether you’re shopping at the supermarket, a local mill, or, for you hardcore DIYers, milling your own at home.
By now you’ve caught the baking bug and ready to join the cult of sourdough bread. This journey begins by making your own sourdough starter, which is far easier and less stressful than the Internet would have you believe. For us, this was a baking breakthrough: Once we had a mature starter (which we keep in the refrigerator and feed every few days) we found ourselves baking more and more bread, as well as dreaming up new ways to use the “discard” between feedings.
A Better Path to Sourdough
Once your starter is ready for primetime, try our recipe for No-Knead Sourdough Bread, which simply swaps in ripe sourdough starter for the commercial yeast in our No.8 No-Knead Bread. The resulting loaf is very similar in texture, but with a more pronounced sourdough flavor.
Or you can skip ahead and move on to making our Simple Sourdough bread. Here’s where our approach to making sourdough bread diverges from most. If you’ve attempted sourdough before, or at least flirted with the idea by browsing the web, you’ve likely been overwhelmed by recipes that offer vague instructions (“stretch and fold your dough until elastic”) or are laden with baking lingo (“if crumb structure or oven spring is suboptimal, try a longer autolyse and an 80% hydration formula”). Either path ends with confusion: When we’ve attempted a recipe and failed, we don’t know where we went wrong. And when we’ve achieved sourdough success after following a recipe, we don’t know what we did right, other than to follow the prescription to the letter.
Our Simple Sourdough takes the middle road. It builds upon the bread-making basics introduced in our no-knead bread (most notably swapping sourdough starter in place of commercial yeast), and explains the hows and whys of the entire process. We hope this will give you a better understanding of how sourdough bread works, as well as the tools to continue your own sourdough journey by exploring more-advanced techniques and the many bread variations out there.
OK, campers, let’s make some bread!