Bread is something I never imagined myself baking. Frankly, I was intimidated just looking at the crusty loaves in the grocery store. If I had known what I know now, I would have slapped my hand for buying that crusty loaf for $5.99. With four common pantry ingredients, and NO KNEADING, I could have my own gorgeous loaf for less than a dollar! I made this bread plain the first time, and added 1 tablespoon of Italian spices (oregano, marjoram, thyme, rosemary) the second. Both delicious dipped in olive oil, or spread with a thin layer of butter. While I still have a ways to go in the bread artisan world, I find this to be a great start and want to share this easy bread recipe with you!
No Knead Crusty Dutch Oven Bread (makes 1 small loaf)
- 1 8.75g packet of active dry yeast, prepared per instructions (*see note below on using instant yeast)
- 3 cups flour (I used 2 and 1/2 all purpose, 1/2 c whole wheat)
- 1 and 1/2 cups water for the whole recipe (subtract water used to activate yeast, if applicable)
- 1 and 1/2 teaspoons salt
- Optional: 1 tbsp Italian spices or fresh herbs
- Equipment: Dutch oven, or any oven-safe pot with a lid with at least a 2 quart capacity
Yeast it up. I used active dry yeast which needs to feed on sugar, but if you use instant yeast, you can skip this paragraph entirely and just add the yeast to the flour bowl directly. My yeast packet recommended that I prepare the yeast with 1/4 teaspoon white sugar and 1/4 cup warm water. After briefly mixing, I left it alone. After about 5 minutes, the yeast should look like the above right photo. If you give it a stir, you should see big yeasty bubbles like the photo below:
In a large bowl, combine your flour, yeast, extra water, salt, and any spices or herbs. If you used water to activate your yeast, make sure that you subtract so there is only 1 and 1/2 cups of water total (so I added 1 and a 1/4 cups). Mix until everything is combined (left photo below), and then cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it sit on the counter for 12-24 hours until doubled (see right photo):
After letting the dough rise for those 12-24 hours, preheat the oven to 450 degrees with your dutch oven inside (or any oven-safe pot that has a lid, with at least a 2 quart capacity) to preheat as well. Dump the shaggy dough onto a floured cutting board in the meantime, and push it into a circular shape. Cover the dough with plastic wrap (left photo) while you wait 30 minutes for the oven to preheat. Carefully remove the dutch oven and drop the dough into the bottom (right photo). Don’t worry if the dough doesn’t feel sturdy- it will transform!
Cover the dutch oven with the lid and return it to the oven. Bake the loaf for 30 minutes, and then remove the lid and bake for an additional 10 minutes to allow the crust to brown. As soon as the 40 minutes of total baking is finished, carefully remove the loaf from the dutch oven to cool on a wire rack. Let it cool for 10 minutes before slicing.
Just look at the break in the chewy crust and the bubbles in the soft center of the bread. This loaf was studded with Italian seasonings, and made the perfect vehicle for olive oil and sliced cheeses.
Get in my belly. If you can stand to wait the minimum 12 hours to allow the dough to rise, this bread beats any store bought loaf, and will make you feel like a bread artisan. Go ahead, impress your friends and bake a loaf!