This bread is adapted from King Arthur Flour. The apples and cheddar cheese is my riff on this all-purpose bread.
If you are using a dutch oven the recipe makes two loaves, or three if you are using a baking stone. Remember, the slower the rise, the better the taste. Overnight is the fridge is not a bad thing at all as the yeasty things are doing their job!
We like to dip this into some oil and our Garlic Balsamic vinegar, Basil Olive Oil, and some salt and pepper.
3 cups lukewarm water
6.5 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon salt
1.5 tablespoons instant active dry yeast
1 cup cheddar cheese, diced to 1/2 inch or smaller
1 cup apple, diced to 1/2 inch or smaller
Combine all dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl (at least 6 quarts) or bowl of stand mixer and stir to mix yeast, flour, and salt well. Add water and if using a stand mixer beat at medium for 2 minutes. By hand stir to incorporate all ingredients well. It will be sticky!
Cover the bowl and let rise for 2 hours at room temperature then put it in the refrigerator and let it stand for 2 hours and up to one week. The longer it sits the tangier it will get. That’s the yeast and flour getting happy. The longer is sits the more sour dough taste it will have.
When you want to make the bread, dust some flour on top so your fingers are less likely to stick. You can also lightly oil your hands. Place the dough on a cutting board dusted with flour and cut in half. Shape the half into rough balls. Don’t worry, they will want to spread.
Put the loaf in a lightly oiled bowl or well dusted brotform basket and cover with towel. Let the dough rise at room temperature for 1-2 hours. The cooler the room, the longer the rise. Preheat the oven to 45 degrees F. Place a pie tin or shallow pan (not glass!) on the lowest rack available. (Baking stone only.) If using a dutch oven or baking stone make sure they are in the oven as well.
If you’re using a baking stone, slash the top in a couple of places. Put the bread in the oven onto the baking stone and carefully put one cup of hot water into the pan on the rack beneath. It'll bubble and steam; close the oven door quickly.
If using a dutch oven, take it out of the oven and remove the lid. Plop the dough into the dutch oven and close the lid quickly to trap the steam it may release. Put it back in the oven.
Bake the bread for 25 to 35 minutes. It will be a nice golden brown. In a dutch oven, remove the lid and bake for another 10 - 12 minutes to set the crust.
Take the bread from the oven and let rest on a rack until cooled. If using a dutch oven, dump the bread onto a cutting board and flip it onto the rack to cool.