I’m just going to say it: I. Love. Bread. Like, all kinds and no matter what time of day. I could have just eaten an entire meal and still make room for bread. Heck, bread can BE my meal. It was probably my first love and I’m not ashamed to admit it. When everyone started on those low carb diets, I knew I could never commit. I mean, who can give up bread?
Now that we’ve established I’m a firm believer in the beauty of bread, I can tell you it’s no surprise when the thought of making my own crossed my mind. I have a bread machine, but this time I decided to take it to the next level and make it with my own two hands. This is a great recipe that can take as little as 8 hours to make (most breads need 12-18 hours minimum just for the first rise) and comes out looking like artisanal bread from a professional bakery. So buckle up and enjoy the ride, because this bread recipe is going to knock your socks off!
3 Cups of Bread Flour (NOT all-purpose flour)
3/4 TSP Active Dry Yeast (not rapid rise)
1 1/4 TSP Salt
1 1/2 Cups Water
(can you believe it only takes 4 ingredients to make your own bread?!)
** You will need a dutch oven to bake this bread, but you can also use a stock pot (if you’re brave, which I’m not because I always thought I would melt my handles) that is oven safe up to 450 degrees or by covering the plastic handles with foil.
Begin by combining all your ingredients in a large bowl. I personally like to combine all my dry ingredients first, then add the water. It can be water from your tap, it does not have to be warm.
When you begin mixing, you will immediately notice the consistency is very dry and may be a little hard to mix with a spoon. Feel free to get in there with your hands and do some mixing that way. The dough is going to look almost flaky, not gooey at this point.
Form your dough into a ball and then cover your bowl with a towel or plastic wrap. Place in a warm place in your home (my house is freezing right now, so I took my bowl with me upstairs to rise in my home office because downstairs feels like the inside of a refrigerator). Let your dough rise for 6-8 hours, or until it looks like its doubled in size.
I personally never remember what size my dough started at, so I just keep an eye out for when the dough starts looking gooey and there are air bubbles rising to the surface.
Once you hit this point, you are ready to proof your bread, which is basically the shaping of your dough and a final rise. Spray a cookie sheet with some cooking oil (I used PAM) and then manhandle your dough out of the bowl. It’s going to be sticky and look like this, so just work slowly.
Plop your dough onto the cookie sheet, shape into a ball (or more like a mound) if it didn’t maintain it’s shape and then spray a light coat of oil on top. Cover with a towel or plastic wrap and then let it rise for another 1-2 hours. It’s not going to look particularly pleasing to the eye at this point, so don’t worry.
At this point, turn on your oven to 450 degrees and put your dutch oven in, to begin heating up. This makes sure your dough bakes in the 30-45 minutes you want because the pot will already be heated! Once your dough is finished proofing, remove your dutch oven and place your dough into the heated pot. Be careful, that dutch oven is HOT. Place the lid ON and put in the oven. You dough will go into the dutch oven looking like this:
After 30 minutes, remove the dutch oven’s lid and allow to bake for another 8-15 minutes, depending on how brown you’d like the crust. I personally don’t like the burnt looking bread because the crust is too tough, so only bake another 8 or so minutes without the lid. After 40 minutes, you bread will look like THIS:
Isn’t she lovely? Remove from the dutch oven and place on a rack to cool and try as hard as you can to let the bread significantly cool before slicing and devouring. This is the hardest part for me and I usually can’t stand it and end up digging in about 15 minutes later.
I mean, how can you not?
This bread is amazing when topped with simple butter or jam. Good luck not eating it in 1 day!
I should also say it’s a pretty forgiving recipe. I was not paying very much attention and quite possibly could have added an extra 1/2 cup of flour without realizing it. About an hour into the first rise, I thought the dough looked too dry so added a smidge more water and then flour (because I of course, added TOO much water). Even with those potential mess-ups, the bread still came out beautiful and delicious. Have faith in yourself in the kitchen, you can do this!
This recipe inspired by TheKitchn’s No Knead Bread In A Hurry.