One of my most reader-tested and approved recipes! This crusty, fluffy artisan bread needs only 4 ingredients and 5 minutes to come together… you won’t believe how easy and delicious it is!
I have something amazing to share with you today! I mean, you’ve seen artisan bread before but you’ve probably never seen it as easily made as this! I’d say this is one part recipe, one part magic trick… it’s just incredible. You’ve gotta trust me.
The beautiful, crusty and fluffy bread that results from just four ingredients will knock your socks off! All it takes is flour, salt, yeast and water, all mixed up in a bowl and set to rest for 8-24 hours. Sounds like a lifetime, I know, but waiting is the only difficult part of this recipe.
Just make sure your flour is fresh and yeast isn’t expired. I’ve used both active dry yeast and highly active dry yeast with great results!
Look at those scrumptious slices! They’re just begging to be slathered with goat cheese and honey, or topped with tomatoes, basil and a drizzle of good olive oil.
Oh, the possibilities…
I get it, though. You probably already have lots of questions about how it’s baked, what kind of cookware you can use besides a Dutch oven, and how long you should let yours rise. You can click “Read More” to scroll through the picture tutorial, full recipe, and my notes. These are just all the answers I found when I had some of the same questions!
The dough only takes 5 minutes to come together, but it does take some time to rise. All of your patience totally pays off when this lovely loaf comes out of your oven, though.
If, like me, you’re standing there slack jawed when it’s done, you know you got it right!
I’ve already made a few of these fabulous loaves and will make many more around the holidays, too. I can envision mixing in lots of fun flavorings… rosemary, lemon zest, Parmesan, garlic and cranberries just to name a few ideas!
[Scroll down to see the full written recipe with no pictures. This is just a tutorial to give you an idea of what each step should look like. Hope it’s helpful!]
In a large bowl, stir together your flour, salt and yeast. Make sure to use fresh, non-expired ingredients. Pour in warm water and gently stir until you’ve created a messy, shaggy dough that looks something like this (above). Do not over-work the dough. That’s it!
Just cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and let it sit anywhere between 8-24 hours at room temperature. You want it to rise and “bubble” to the surface. I let this dough rise about 9 hours.
Once it’s risen, place your Dutch oven into a 450 degree F oven to preheat. See notes below about other cookware you can use.
Meanwhile, pop your dough out onto a well floured surface. It will be sticky, but with floured hands you can easily form it into a round dough ball.
Cover it loosely with plastic wrap while your Dutch oven preheats. If the cookware you’re using isn’t enameled or nonstick, slip a piece of parchment paper underneath the dough at this point.
Carefully remove your Dutch oven from the oven, pop in your dough, and cover it with the lid. Back into the oven it goes, so set that timer for 30 minutes and wait for the magic to happen!
Isn’t this amazing?! Here’s what it will resemble after baking for 30 minutes. Now remove the lid, put it back in the oven, and bake an additional 7-15 minutes uncovered.
The uncovered baking time just depends on your oven. Mine only needed 7 more minutes to get gorgeous golden brown, but it can vary. Just keep an eye on it.
Voila! Pop it out, slice it up, and slather one (or twelve) with butter, STAT.
Yield: Makes 1 loaf
3 cups all-purpose flour
2-3 teaspoons kosher salt (not table salt)
1/2 teaspoon dry yeast (active dry or highly active dry work best)
1 1/2 cups lukewarm water
Special cookware needed: Dutch oven or any large oven-safe dish/bowl and lid*
In a large bowl, stir together the flour, salt and yeast. Stir in water using a wooden spoon until the mixture forms a shaggy but cohesive dough. Do not over-work the dough. The less you "work" it, the more soft, fluffy air pockets will form.
Cover bowl tightly with plastic wrap. Let dough sit at room temperature for 8-24 hours*. Dough will bubble up and rise.
After dough is ready, preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Place your Dutch oven, uncovered, into the preheated oven for 30 minutes.
While your Dutch oven preheats, turn dough onto a well-floured surface. With floured hands, form the dough into a ball. Cover dough loosely with plastic wrap and let rest.
After the 30 minutes are up, carefully remove Dutch oven. With floured hands, place the bread dough into it. (You can put a piece of parchment under the dough if your Dutch oven isn’t enamel coated.)
Replace cover and bake for 30 minutes covered. Carefully remove cover and bake for 7-15 minutes* more, uncovered.
Carefully remove bread to a cutting board and slice with a bread knife.
Uncovered baking time depends on your oven. In my oven, the bread only needs 7 minutes uncovered until crusty and golden brown, but this can vary. Just keep an eye on it!
Preheating your Dutch oven to 450 degrees F will not damage it, or the knob on top.
I’ve let this dough rise anywhere between 8-24 hours and it has baked up beautifully. Just make sure it has risen and appears to “bubble” to the surface.
There’s no need to grease the Dutch oven/baking dish/pot. My bread has never stuck to the pot. If you are concerned though, put a piece of parchment paper under your dough before placing into your pot.
I do not recommend using whole wheat flour or white whole wheat flour in this recipe. The resulting bread will be very dense, and not as fluffy and delicious.
I used a 5.5 quart enameled cast iron Le Creuset pot, but you can use any large oven-safe dish and cover. All of these also work: a baking dish covered with aluminum foil, crockpot insert, stainless steel pot with a lid, pizza stone with an oven-safe bowl to cover the bread, and old cast iron Dutch oven.
Add any mix-ins you like - herbs, spices, dried fruit, chopped nuts and cheese all work well. I recommend adding them into the initial flour-yeast mixture to avoid over-working the mix-ins into the dough. The less you "work" it, the more you're encouraging soft, fluffy air pockets to form!