Bake French bread right in a cast iron skillet!

I love fresh-baked bread. The earthy scent of the yeast, the enticing aroma of the baking bread, there is nothing better on a cold dreary winter day. 

But I have to admit, I generally just toss the ingredients into my bread maker and let the machine do all the work. 

However after seeing a tantalizing recipe in a recent issue of Mary Jane's Farm magazine, I just had to try it. I mean, how could I not?  So I spent yesterday afternoon measuring and kneading and resting and baking.  The result was nothing short of delicious.  This recipe is a keeper for sure.  

Sadly when I slit the loaf just prior to baking, it deflated and emerged from the oven looking slightly like a fallen souffle. It still tasted wonderful, but wasn't nearly as beautiful as the photograph in the magazine.  

So one change I did make for future reference is to increase the amount of flour slightly and to make the slits in the top of the loaf prior to the final rise instead of waiting until just before sliding the loaf in the oven.  

Cast Iron Skillet French Bread

2 tablespoons yeast
2 tablespoons sugar
2-1/2 cups warm water
2 tablespoons neutral oil
1 tablespoon Kosher salt, plus more for top
6 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
Butter to grease pan
1 egg, whisked lightly

Sprinkle the yeast and sugar over the warm water in a large mixing bowl. Let sit for 15 minutes until the yeast starts to bubble and foam. 

Add the oil, tablespoon of salt and half the flour. Mix well with a fork, then add the remaining flour, a little at a time, kneading with your fingers to combine. Knead for 2 to 3 minutes, then cover with a clean kitchen towel and let sit for 10 minutes. Repeat the kneading/resting four more times.

Divide the dough into four equal pieces and form into balls. 

Rub a thin layer of butter over the bottom and sides of a 12" cast iron skillet. 

Place the balls of dough into the skillet and cut a slit in the top of each ball with a sharp knife. Cover the skillet with the towel and let rise in a warm place until dough doubles (about an hour or two).
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. 

Brush the tops of the balls with beaten egg, sprinkle with additional salt and bake for 25-30 minutes, until golden brown on top. 

Let cool for a few minutes, then remove from the skillet, slice, and serve with butter.

Recipe inspired Mary Jane's Farm magazine Black Skillet French Bread recipe.

©2013 by Fresh Eggs Daily, Inc.and updated in 2024 for Coop to Kitchen. All rights reserved.