This crusty easy bread recipe is phenomenal. It has got to be the simplest yeast bread recipe in the world, yet it delivers phenomenal results – an Artisan style loaf with an incredible thick, crispy crust , and a moist, chewy crumb with big fat holes like a loaf of sourdough!
3 minutes active effort, no knead, no stand mixer, highly flexible and forgiving recipe, this from scratch bread can be on your table in less than 2 hours OR prepare the dough up to 3 days in advance for a handy “grab and bake” option. This is life changing!
Phenomenal EASY bread recipe
This is a yeast bread recipe that’s so good yet so simple, beginners will find it a breeze while experienced bakers will appreciate the Artisan bread characteristics of this loaf. With large holes in the crumb like your favourite sourdough bread, a thick, crispy crust and the incredible chew that you get with high quality breads, this is a gold nugget recipe!
Here’s why it’s so easy:
- No knead, no stand mixer
- 3 minutes active effort – you won’t even get your hands dirty
- Dutch oven (cast iron pot) ideal but not necessary
- Incredibly forgiving dough, with rise times ranging from 1 hour to 3 days (yes, really, you choose what works for you)
- Easy but yet no compromise on quality of bread
You may never buy bread again after trying this!
What you need to make this homemade bread recipe
Here’s what you need to make homemade bread from scratch – yeast, flour, salt and water. Yep, really, that’s it!
- Yeast – my base recipe uses Rapid Rise or Instant Yeast which does not need to be dissolved in water. But it works just as well with normal yeast (“Active Dry Yeast” or just “dry yeast”) – you just need to change the order of the steps and dissolve the yeast in water first. The bread comes out exactly the same!
- Best flour for homemade bread – use bread flour if you can. Bread flour has more protein in it than normal flour which means more gluten, and this makes the dough more elastic and yields a more fluffy yet chewy texture inside the bread. However, this bread is still spectacular made with normal flour too!
How to make the world’s easiest homemade bread – Artisan style!
1. Make wet sticky dough – Mix together the flour, salt and yeast, then add warm water and mix. The “dough” will be very wet and sloppy, not kneadable at all – this is what you want!
2. Rise! Cover with cling wrap then place it in a warm place (25 – 30°C / 77 – 86°C) for 2 hours. The dough will increase in volume by double or more, the surface will become bubbly and the dough will be wobbly, like jelly.
BETTER FLAVOUR OPTION – Once dough has risen, you can bake immediately. OR, for better flavour, refrigerate for a minimum of 8 hours, up to 3 days. Time = better flavour development. I usually make this dough in the morning, refrigerate all day then bake in the evening. Or make the dough in the evening, refrigerate overnight and bake fresh in the morning!
3. Preheat oven – 30 minutes before dough has risen, place a dutch oven (cast iron pot) with the lid on in the oven to preheat at 230°C/450°F.
No dutch oven? No problem! Just bake it on a tray – see the recipe notes.
4. Scrape dough out of bowl onto floured work surface. It will be wet and sticky and that’s exactly what you want – because we will not be kneading it! In fact, you won’t even touch it with your hand.
5. Shape the dough – use a dough scraper or anything of similar shape (spatula, cake serve, or large knife) to fold the sides in so it roughly resembles a round disc. Don’t get too hung up on this step – you’ll deform it in the next step!!
6. Slide onto paper – Slide a large piece of baking / parchment paper next to the dough, then flip it upside down onto the paper so the seams from the step above are face down, and you have the smooth side up.
Slide/push the dough into the centre, then briefly reshape it into a round or slightly oval shape. Do not get too hung up on shape – this bread is supposed to be rustic!
7. Transfer to HOT POT! – Remove very hot pot from oven, then use paper to pick up the dough and put it in the pot, and put the lid on.
See recipe notes for no dutch oven method.
8. Bake! Bake for 30 minutes with the lid on, then 12 minutes with the lid off.
Cool on a rack for 10 minutes before slicing. This is important – to let the centre of the bread finish cooking (if you slice too early, it will seem a bit doughy. Patience was never my greatest virtue so I learnt this first hand!)
Remember – you can make this bread recipe WITHOUT a dutch oven!
Why this bread recipe works – and TIPS!
- Loose, sticky dough = easier to rise than firmer dough
- No kneading = rough dough but because the dough is so soft, it puffs up enough to “smooth out” the roughness
- Why you need a preheated dutch oven for no knead bread – to create a steamy environment to give the bread a rise boost before the crust sets (which stops the bread from rising). Professional bakeries are equipped with steam ovens – the cast iron pot is the home method!
- Don’t have a dutch oven? No problem! Recreate the steamy environment by placing hot water in a pan in the oven.
- High heat and preheated pot = rise boost
- Big holes in the crumb – loose dough, high oven temp and preheated pot allows the yeast to give the bread a great rise boost, creating big air pockets.
- Less flour = looser dough = big bread holes.
- It is tasty baked immediately, but it’s even tastier after 8+ hours in the fridge!
- Why refrigerating the dough creates a better tasting bread – because the fridge slows down the fermentation of the yeast (ie dough stops rising, if it kept rising it would kill the rising power of the yeast), allowing the enzymes in the yeast to do their work, transforming starch into sugar which creates a more flavourful bread. So we make the dough rise first, then refrigerate it.
All the ways to eat this bread!
Everything you do with bread, you can do with this bread. It truly has the structure of bakery bread, so there are no limits!
Eat it fresh out of the oven, slathered with butter. Make sandwiches, toast it, mop plates clean, dunk it in soups and stews. Make bruschetta, garlic bread, grilled cheese, CHEESY garlic bread or Cheese and Garlic CRACK Bread!
I hope you enjoy this bread recipe as much as I do. This really is one of those gold nugget recipes that you’ll make once and treasure forever! – Nagi x
Watch how to make it
Incredible Easy Bread Recipe – crusty, Artisan, NO KNEAD
Recipe video above. This super crusty homemade bread recipe is going to blow your mind! The world’s easiest yeast bread that’s just like the very best artisan bread you pay top dollar for, with an incredible crispy, chewy crust, and big fat holes like sourdough. Recipe is forgiving so don’t fret if things don’t go perfectly, it will be salvageable. SEE NOTES for options like no dutch oven, different yeast, MAKE AHEAD up to 3 days!
- 3 cups (390g) flour (, bread or plain/all purpose (Note 1))
- 2 tsp instant or rapid rise yeast ((Note 2 for normal / active dry yeast))
- 2 tsp salt (, cooking / kosher salt (Note 3))
- 1.5cups (375ml) very warm tap water (, NOT boiling or super hot (ie up to 55°C/130°F) (Note 4))
- 1.5 tbsp flour (, for dusting)
Mix Dough: Mix flour, yeast and salt in a large bowl. Add water, then use the handle of a wooden spoon to mix until all the flour is incorporated. Dough will be wet and sloppy – not kneadable (see video at X seconds, Note 5).
Rise: Cover with cling wrap or plate, leave on counter for 2 – 3 hours until it doubles in volume, it’s wobbly like jelly and the top is bubbly. If after 1 hour it doesn’t seem to be rising, move it somewhere warmer (Note 6).
Optional – refrigerate for flavour development: At this stage, you can either bake immediately (next step) or refrigerate for up to 3 days. I often bake immediately, or refrigerate overnight then bake in the morning.
Preheat oven (Note 7) – Put dutch oven with lid in oven and preheat to 230°C/450°F 30 minutes prior to baking. (Note 8 for no dutch oven)
Shape dough: Sprinkle work surface with 1 tbsp flour, scrape dough out of bowl. Sprinkle top with ½ tbsp flour.
- Using a dough scraper or anything of similar shape (cake server, large knife, spatula), fold the out edges inwards (about 6 folds) to roughly form a roundish shape. Don’t be too meticulous here – you’re about to deform it, it’s more about deflating the bubbles in the dough and forming a shape you can move.
Transfer to paper: Slide a large piece of parchment/baking paper next to the dough, then flip it upside down onto the paper (ie seamside down, smoth side up). Slide/push it towards the middle, then reshape it into a round(ish) shape.
Take chill out of dough – if you refrigerated dough per step 3, leave it on the counter for 20 minutes.
Dough in pot: Remove piping hot dutch oven from oven. Use paper to place dough into pot, place lid on.
Bake 30 minutes covered, then 12 minutes uncovered or until deep golden and crispy.
Cool on rack for 10 minutes before slicing.
- Fridge up to 3 days – Rise dough per recipe, then leave in bowl and refrigerate up to 3 days. Flavour gets better with time. Dough will stay bubbly for a day or two, then will deflate – that’s fine. Shape into round and place on paper per recipe, then leave for 30 minutes to take the chill out of it, then bake per recipe.
- Cooked bread – great fresh for 2 days, then after that, better warmed or toasted. This stays more fresh than usual homemade bread.
- Freeze cooked bread for up to 3 months.
1. Flour – bread flour will give a more the crumb a more chewy, fluffy texture like bakery Artisan bread because it has higher protein, and bread stays fresher for longer. Plain / all purpose flour still works 100% perfectly, texture is just not quite the same.
2. Yeast – use yeast labelled “instant” or “rapid rise”. If you can only find normal yeast (can be labelled “active dry yeast”) then dissolve yeast in water first (no need to let it foam), then immediately add flour and salt and mix. Proceed with recipe as written.
3. Salt – reduce to 1 ¼ tsp if using table salt (finer grains = less volume for same amount of salt)
4. Water temperature – if it’s so scorching hot you wouldn’t bathe in it, it will kill the yeast. If it’s a lovely temp you could sit in for hours in a bubble bath, it’s the perfect temp.
5. Dough consistency can be affected by factors like different brands of flour, humidity in air. If dough is too dry, add touch of water. Too wet, add a touch of flour. Compare to video at X seconds and photos above.
6. Dough rising – time will vary depending on room temperature, humidity, flour you use etc. If it’s coldish in your kitchen (22°C/70°F or less) OR it’s not rising (check at 1 hour), then tuck the bowl somewhere warmer, not windy.
Simple method I use: in sink with warm (not hot) water, with ramekin to elevate bowl above water level. Or run dryer for a few minutes then place bowl in there. Do not put bowl in direct sunlight indoors – too hot. But in shade near sunlight is good!
If dough rises really quickly (eg if you filled the sink up way too much with super hot tap water), then pull bowl out of sink and put in fridge to stop the rise while you wait to preheat the oven.
7. Oven preheating – If baking immediately, start preheating oven when you can see dough is rising (at 1.5 hours) or if you refrigerated, while dough is resting to take chill out of it.
It’s also fine to shape the dough into a round, place it on parchment paper and leave for 30 minutes while oven preheated (I told this is a flexible recipe!!)
8. Dutch oven (cast iron pot) creates a steamer effect, a home version of professional steamer ovens used by bakeries to make bread.
No dutch oven method – place a 20cm/8” square pan (or similar) in oven while preheating on middle shelf where bread will bake (or shelf under if tray won’t fit on same shelf). Boil kettle. When you put the bread in, work fast as follows – place bread in oven, fill pan with boiling water, shut oven door = makeshift dutch oven steamer effect!
9. Different measures in different countries – cup sizes differ slightly between countries. The difference is not enough to affect the outcome of most recipes, but for baking recipes, it does matter. For this bread, as long as you use EITHER cups OR weights & mls for the flour and water, this recipe will work fine (I tested with US and Aus cups which have the greatest variance in size).
10. Source: Adapted from this recipe from New York Times (halved the recipe to make one batch, and added useful tips and tricks after much trial and error over the years).
11. Nutrition per slice
Life of Dozer
Just keeping a close eye on it for me….
Good job Dozer. Here’s your treat. Look, I even buttered it for you!
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