Sheepherder's Bread

PORTLAND PEEPS


Makes 1 very large loaf


INGREDIENTS:


3 cups very hot tap water

1/2 cup butter

1/2 cup sugar

2 1/2 teaspoons salt

2 packages active dry yeast

About 9 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 Tablespoon vegetable oil


DIRECTIONS:


In a large bowl, combine the hot water, butter, sugar and salt. Stir until butter melts. Let cool to warm (110° to 115°F) Stir in yeast, cover and set in a warm place until the mixture is bubbly, about 15 minutes.


Add 5 cups of the flour and beat with a heavy-duty mixer or wooden spoon to form a thick batter. Stir in enough of the remaining flour (about 3 1/2 cups) to form a stiff dough. Turn dough out onto a floured board and knead until smooth, about 10 minutes, adding flour as needed to prevent sticking. Turn dough over in a greased bowl, cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 1/2 hours.


Punch down dough and knead on a floured board to form a smooth ball. Cut a circle of foil to cover the bottom of the Dutch oven. Grease the inside of the Dutch oven and the underside of the lid with vegetable oil.


Place dough in the pot and cover with the lid. Let rise in a warm place until dough pushes up the lid by about 1/2 inch, about 1 hour (watch closely).


Bake, covered with the lid in a 375° oven for 12 minutes. Remove lid and bake for another 30-35 minutes, or until the loaf is golden brown and sounds hollow when you tap it. Remove from oven and carefully turn loaf out onto a rack to cool.

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