No tired arms here! This dough needs a long rest—and just one minute of kneading—to transform into crusty, chewy, sliceable bread.
Day 2: Lay 18-by-12-inch sheet of parchment paper on counter. Spray parchment paper lightly with vegetable oil spray. Set aside.
Sprinkle clean counter lightly with extra flour and coat your hands with flour. Transfer dough to counter and use your floured hands to knead until smooth, about 1 minute (click here to learn how to knead bread dough). Set aside dough. Wipe counter clean, making sure to dry thoroughly. Use your hands to form dough into smooth ball.
Uncover Dutch oven. Sprinkle ½ teaspoon all-purpose flour over dough. Use paring knife to make one 6-inch-long, ½-inch-deep slit along top of dough.
Adjust oven rack to middle position. Cover Dutch oven and place it in cold oven. Set oven to 425 degrees and bake for 30 minutes.
Ask an adult to use oven mitts to remove Dutch oven lid (lid will be VERY hot). Continue to bake until loaf is deep golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes.
Most bread recipes call for kneading the dough for a long time. That kneading helps develop gluten—a stretchy web of proteins that traps air and gives bread its height and chewy texture. But, with enough time, gluten can develop on its own. After a quick stir, our dough rests for 8 to 18 hours. During that time, proteins in the dough unwind, slowly find each other, and form a web of gluten. Just one minute of kneading tightens up the gluten even more—then, it’s time to bake!
This bread is unique in more ways that one— it does not require much kneading and it bakes inside of a Dutch oven instead of on a baking sheet. When bread is baked, the water in the dough turns to steam. Baking the bread inside a covered pot traps the steam and extra heat. That extra heat helps the bread to rise and creates bigger air holes (what bakers call an open crumb). The steam helps “set” the starches on the surface of the bread. That helps create a crisp, shiny crust. The lid comes off the pot after 30 minutes so the crust can brown.