The recipe I use is an adaptation; it’s from Cook’s Illustrated. They added some beer for extra yeast and flavor, a few strokes of kneading for better texture, and some white vinegar for tang. They also reduced the amount of water in the original recipe. And I, in turn, made my own adaptation, which is to double the amount of salt used.
A word about the beer: I’ve tried this recipe with Amstel Light, Budweiser and Heineken. To my taste, Heineken adds the nicest flavor.
You cook the bread in a dutch oven, covered to start. This traps in the moisture released from the dough as it cooks. This moisture causes a fantastic crust to form on the bread (a crust one is usually unable to obtain in a home oven with no steam injectors). It takes two days to make (with rising time) but the results are oh-so-worth it!
3 cups bread flour
¼ tsp. dry yeast
3 tsp. salt
1 cup water
1/3 cup lager
1 tbsp. white vinegar
Mix all the dry ingredients, then add in beer, vinegar and water. Stir until just combined. Place in greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise for 11-18 hours at room temperature. The amount of time here is flexible; I’ve let the dough rise as long as 24 hours and the bread was fine.
Remove onto a lightly floured surface and knead for approximately 15 strokes. Shape into a ball, proof at room temperature for 2 hours, covered with oiled plastic wrap. Cook’s Illustrated recommends that after shaping you place the ball on a piece of parchment paper for the proofing.
Preheat oven to 500 degrees F. Heat dutch oven for 30 minutes.
Lower oven temperature to 425 degrees. Score and lightly flour surface of bread, then pick up while still on parchment (this makes the process easier) and place in the hot dutch oven (still on parchment). Bake for 30 minutes with cover on and an additional 20-30 minutes uncovered. Remove from oven and let cool.