Our crusty bread recipe is simple and fast to make, anyone can make this artisan bread at home in just three hours. Bread making was my kitchen weakness until this simple bread recipe came along.
Read on, and I will show you step by step exactly how to make this no-knead bread.
Crusty Bread Recipe
I grew up in a big Mennonite farm family where my mom typically made cakes, pies, and bread every day as just a small part of her daily routine. I took too many of those skills for granted.
Then, I grew up and tried to grow a huge garden, like my mom. Not so easy. I tried to iron my clothes like my mom. Not so easy.
Possibly the world’s easiest artisan bread
And I tried to make my bread, like my mom. Again and again and again and always not so easy. Until this homemade crusty bread recipe came along, I’m not kidding.
This no-knead artisan bread is nearly fail-proof.
How to Make Homemade Crusty Bread
Part of the ease of making this rustic bread recipe is the shortlist of ingredients. Aside from water, there are only three others:
It doesn’t get much simpler than that. No buttermilk, no scalded milk, no unusual ingredients. And, no kneading!
This homemade crusty bread recipe uses an age-old method of creating a perfectly crunchy and crusty outside. Placing hot water in a hot pan (heated in the oven) creates a steam bath that encases the dough and ensures you get a crisp finish. Scroll down for our step-by-step directions on how to do this.
Another secret to ensuring a crisp crust on the bottom: place the dough on a hot stone when it goes in the oven.
There are two easy ways of doing this, once the dough is ready to bake.
- You can dust a pizza peel with corn flour and allow the loaf(s) to rest there (in the final raising stage).
Once it’s ready to bake, simply place the pizza peel on the hot baking stone and the unbaked bread will slide off nicely.
- Another method of easily transferring the unbaked bread to a hot baking stone is to allow the loaf(s) to rest on a sheet of parchment paper (in the final raising stage.)
When the dough is ready for the oven, simply transfer the parchment paper directly to the hot stone, and you will achieve the same crispy crust on the bottom.
Either of these methods work well for creating a crisp bottom to a pizza crust recipe as well.
I’ve broken down the process to make this artisan bread into a bunch of steps for you. It looks like there are a lot of steps, but I promise, every one of them is super simple.
Adding ingredients, stirring, baking, things like that.
As I found out, making this rustic bread at home is not rocket science. In fact, it is not like black and white science at all; this is where the art of baking comes into play. For example, there are variations in oven temperatures, differences in humidity which can affect the amounts of liquid (water) vs. solid (flour) that you have to combine to achieve the right consistency.
Find what works for you by a little trial and error and once you get it right, this is the only bread recipe you will ever need.
Step-By-Step Instructions for making Artisan Bread
(See Full Recipe below at the end of this post)
1. Start with lukewarm water (100° F).
2. Add active dry yeast.
- If you’re not sure if your yeast is good, proof it first.
3. Add flour.
- All purpose flour works fine but bread flour will give you a chewier crumb because of it’s high protein content.
4, Use a wire whisk to stir the water, yeast, and flour mixture.
- As the dough gets thicker use a heavy wooden spoon to mix it, or a stand mixer with a dough hook, on a low setting.
5. Add salt to the bread dough.
- Salt does a whole lot more than just add flavor to homemade bread.
King Arthur Flour does a great job of breaking down the details of salt’s important role in successful breadmaking.
6. Stir the bread dough again, cover it with a kitchen towel and allow it to rise for two hours.
7. Set in a warm place if possible, away from chilly air or where there is a cold draft.
- Sunny windowsills are great places for bread dough to rise.
- After the dough has risen, apply a light dusting of flour over it and divide into two loaves.
8. Lightly dust a pizza peel with some cornmeal.
The dough will be wet!
This is normal.
If you need to add a little more flour to the dough to work with it and shape it, that’s ok!
9. Continue to shape the bread loaves on the pizza peel and apply a light dusting of flour.
10. Score the top of the bread before baking.
- This will help guide the direction of the bread expansion as it bakes.
Cover the loaves with a kitchen towel and let them rise again, for 40 minutes.
11. Prepare a steam bath with some hot water from the stovetop and place it on the oven rack directly under where the bread will go immediately after the bread is placed in the oven.
- Place a dry cast-iron skillet on the lower rack of the oven.
- Place the bread on the rack above the skillet.
- Pour hot water into the skillet and close the oven door immediately.
- Do not open the door of the oven until you remove the bread.
12. This homemade crusty bread can be made in about 3 hours, start to finish, with only about 10 minutes of that time involving actively preparing the recipe. The majority of the time involves rising and baking.
Baking on a hot pizza stone will give you a beautifully crispy bottom to each loaf of this artisan bread.
Important Notice: This bread dough is very wet, and you may find it difficult to work with and shape. It’s supposed to be this way.
As a bonus, the dough refrigerates nicely, up to a week or two so you can bake it when you like. You can make delicious bread with the perfect crust when entertaining, and your guests will think you slaved for hours in preparing it.
One more thing, if you’ve never had toast from homemade bread, you don’t know what you’re missing. I kid you not. Give this homemade crusty bread recipe a try soon, even if you have no confidence in your bread making ability.
This simple bread recipe is a game-changer, and I’m living proof. It’s not my mom’s recipe, but it’s not bad.
My Kitchen Tips for Making Homemade Bread
Baking is not an exact science, and sometimes it takes a little playing in the kitchen to get any baked recipe “just right.” I’ve been baking nearly my whole life, probably since the age of 7, and in my experience, nothing from the oven is more true to this concept than homemade bread (and rolls).
I’ve gotten some harsh criticism for this recipe in the comments below, calling it a “waste of dough,” “a waste of time”, and just a bad recipe.
Folks, making homemade bread is not the same as going to the local bakery and just picking up a loaf. Until you make it a few times! Once you nail the method, I promise, you will feel like you have attained a significant feat in the kitchen.
It just takes a little practice and other than some time, the cost for these ingredients is very small, so you just need to find out what works best for you and then make it your own.
If your bread dough is too wet
- Add a little more flour to it, so it will maintain its shape.
- While it is rising, don’t be afraid to check in on it.
- If it needs to be “patted inwards” (from the sides), gently use the palms of your hands to shape it.
If you are making multiple loaves of bread
Bake the bread loaves one at a time, so if you need to adjust your oven temperature or baking times, you can try that with the second loaf. To illustrate what I’m talking about, take a look at the two loaves of bread (from the same batch of dough.)
The darker loaf (top) was baked first, at 450° for 30 minutes.
I thought the crust was a little dark and so for the lower loaf (garlic and cheese), I reduced the oven temperature to 400° and cut five minutes off the baking time, to 25 minutes.
Both loaves were mouthwatering and chewy, but the crust on the second loaf is not quite as dark.
Let your bread dough rest in the refrigerator overnight
Allowing your bread dough to spend a night in the refrigerator will enhance its flavor and make it chewier.
- Place it in a metal bow that will allow for further expansion because the yeast will continue to do it’s thing while in the fridge.
- Place plastic wrap on any exposed surface of the dough to keep it from drying out.
- Place a damp kitchen towel over the plastic wrap.
- Remove the dough from the refrigerator 3 to 4 hours before baking, to allow it to come to room temperature and rise again.
Mix the Bread Dough By Hand
Mixing the dough by hand is easy because it is not a thick heavy dough.
Instead, it is wet and sticky. Use a heavy-duty whisk if you have one or a heavy wooden spoon.
I tried to save some elbow grease and use my beloved KitchenAid stand mixer and this is what happened:
As you can see, I got a very dense crumb because it had been over-mixed. This loaf had the same great flavor, but the bread was not as airy and chewy as bread in the photo above it.
A Final Word About Quality
If you’re going to go to all the work and mess of making your own bread (which I think is worth it, a thousand times over), don’t skimp on cheap ingredients that are not of good quality.
This is especially true of the spread that you decided to put on this bread.
If it’s butter, use the best you can find, preferably from a known source or fresh and organic.
Finally, nothing tastes better with bread, than homemade soup.
Try one of these easy soup recipes to enjoy with this homemade bread:
FAQ for making Artisan Bread
Does water temperature matter when it comes to breadmaking?
- Warm water will shorten the time for the dry yeast to activate and do its thing.
- Cold water will delay the time for the yeast to activate, but eventually, it will “wake up!”
- Hot water will kill the yeast, and your bread will be a flop.
- It doesn’t matter if you use warm or cold water for making bread, see what happened when this baker put this theory to test!
Can I use All-Purpose Flour to make Bread?
- You can use all-purpose flour when making bread but you may need more water (or less flour) for the right consistency. Bread flour has more than all-purpose flour and thus requires more liquid.
How do I store Homemade Bread?
- If unsliced, store unwrapped at room temperature.
- After they are sliced, store loaves of bread in closed paper bags.
- For soft-crust bread, store in sealed, air-tight bags (or foil) at room temperature.
How do you Convert Kosher Salt Measurements to Table Salt?
- If you don’t have kosher salt, use one-half the amount of table salt. So, for this homemade bread recipe, about 3/4 tablespoon of table salt.
What can I do with Leftover Bread?
My favorite use of leftover bread is to make crostini and to spread a little tapenade on it!
How to make crostini:
- Dice a slice of leftover bread into 1-inch pieces.
- Brush them with olive oil and a pinch of kosher salt.
- Place them under the broiler for 2-3 minutes
Other uses for leftover bread:
Helpful Readers’ Comments for this Crusty Bread Recipe
- Consider adding the following for more flavor: A bit more salt, shredded cheese, Kalamata olives, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, whole wheat four, garlic, rosemary, etc.
- Leave the water (for the steam bath) in the oven for the entire time the bread is baking.
- If you don’t have a pizza stone, many people have made this bread in a cast-iron skillet and a Dutch oven, and on a regular cookie sheet, all with good results.
- If the dough seems to wet to work with, add a generous “dusting” of flour to it.
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Homemade Crusty Bread Recipe
- 3 1/4 cups water lukewarm, about 100° F.
- 1.5 tbsp dry active yeast
- 6 1/2 cups flour bread flour if you have it.
- 1.5 tbsp kosher salt
- Combine water and yeast and stir until the yeast is dissolved. Add flour and salt and mix until thoroughly combined.
- Allow the dough to rise for 2 hours at room temperature, covered with a kitchen towel.
- Apply a light dusting of flour over the dough and divide it in half and shape into 2 loaves, rounding the top. If you only want to make one loaf of bread at this time, store the unused dough in the refrigerator, covered, for up to 2 weeks until ready to use.
- Place the unbaked loaf(s) on pizza peel that is lightly dusted with cornmeal. Apply light dusting of flour over top and cut three slashes into top of dough, using a searrated knife. Cover dough with kitchen towel and allow to rest for 40 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 450° F with baking stone on the center rack. When bread is ready to go in the oven, slide the dough off pizza peel onto hot stone. Place 1 cup hot water into oven broiler (or other oven safe pan), on bottom wrack of oven. Quickly close oven door to created a steam bath within the oven. This will help produce a crisp outer crust.
- Bake for 30 minutes and allow to cool slightly before slicing. Enjoy!
- Read all of the instructions first.
- Have all of the ingrdients and kitchen tools laid out and ready before starting.
- Make sure your yeast is alive. Proof the yeast to be sure.
- Use a hot stone or skillet to bake your bread on.
- Know your oven and babysit the bread as it bakes.
- Rotate if necessary to ensure even baking.
- If your oven runs hot, adjust the temperature as necessary.
- Have patience while making bread and take notes.
- What works well for you in terms of baking time, temperature, wetness of dough, etc.
Updated from the original post of April 6, 2017
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