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I just found a lovely recipe to make a super crusty bread in my dutch oven. The texture is lovely and the crust is fantastic! However, the bread didn't rise much and the flavor is a little flat.

The recipe is

  • 6 cups flour
  • 3/4 tsp yeast
  • 2 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 3 1/2 cups water.

I think if I add sugar and mix with the yeast and water I'll have a better rise and better flavor. I would like to add a fat to add more flavor as well. I don't know enough about food science to know the ratios and what the impact of those additions might be. Any suggestions would be great. Thanks,

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    What kind of flour are you using? For breads with just the basic ingredients, flour is actually important for good flavour. – Stephie May 23 '17 at 6:13
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    6 cups of flour is ca. 840g, 3.5 cups water is 830g. So we are looking at close to 100% hydration. Is that correct or is there a typo in your recipe? – Stephie May 23 '17 at 6:19
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    @Stephie I would assume no typo, since that explains the "flat" part and can be one of the reasons it is suggested as a Dutch oven recipe. – rumtscho May 23 '17 at 6:25
  • @rumtscho it does, I just wanted to double-check. – Stephie May 23 '17 at 6:32
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    Step one if you want to start understanding ratios in bread is to get a good kitchen scale, and start measuring by weight, not volume. For flavor development, time is your friend, as Carlos mentions - even putting in the fridge for a day or two... – Ecnerwal May 23 '17 at 14:10
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Considering the amount of flour used, the basic bread proportions are:

  • Water: 60% the weight of the flour. Of course this percentage may vary among the different recipes (even above 100%).
  • Salt: 2%
  • Fresh yeast: 1%

It may seem a tiny amount of yeast, but the trick is that in order to make bread, you just need time. Time for the yeast to do its job. If you leave the bread to rest for a while (a couple of hours or even more in a banneton before putting it in the Dutch oven) you will get a better rise and flavour. Also, as Stephie said, use very good quality flours. Both things combined and you're done. No need to add sugar, fat or other things.

If you do not have the time, adding more yeast will reduce the resting (and rising) time, but the bread will get less flavour. But if your bread is going to be very hydrated (as it seems), I would really recommend to have patience in the process of kneading and letting rest the bread before cooking it.

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As already mentioned, your choice of flour is important. So too the quantity of yeast and time to rise can make a significant difference. The most direct change would be to add 2 tbs of Sugar, honey, or (real) maple syrup. As additional fuel for the yeast this should allow you to suffice with a shorter rise. You may also enjoy adding some savory herbs to the mix.

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