Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Easy, No-Knead Dutch Oven Crusty Bread

Never buy bread again! 
This amazing crusty bread is the simplest recipe you will ever find for 
homemade bread. Only 4 ingredients and NO kneading. 

I have always wanted to make bread, but have been scared of it. I'm the girl who didn't own a rolling pin until recently - I had been known to roll things out with a wine bottle... But after receiving a Kitchen Aid Mixer for my birthday, I decided it was time to tackle another item on my cooking bucket list... bread. I read through a bunch of recipes and bought bread flour and yeast at the supermarket. Baby steps. 

Then I came across a recipe for a no-knead crusty bread using a Dutch oven to bake it. Really? It seemed too good to be true. I wouldn't even need to use my mixer.

I sat on the couch for a while reading and re-reading the recipe, and finally worked up the nerve to go in the kitchen and make the dough. It was 9 PM on a Saturday night (crazy night, huh?) and I was going to make dough for my first loaf of bread.

I wouldn't lie to you - this bread is seriously the easiest thing to make. If I can make this, so can you. 

First, you mix up the dough ingredients, put it in a bowl, and cover tightly with plastic wrap so the magic can happen. Make sure to store it in a warm place (if it is too cold it will not rise properly). I was so protective of this dough that I took it up to our bedroom and set it on my dresser since we turn the heat down really low downstairs at night. I was not taking a chance!

The next morning I got up to see that the dough had risen. About an hour and a half before I was ready to eat dinner (and enjoy the bread), I turned it out onto a floured surface, and it looked like this.

I floured my hands to form it into a large ball and was a little nervous at the sticky texture, but the recipe assured me that it was just right. After rolling and forming (note - not kneading), it looked like this -

At this point, you cover it with plastic wrap while your Dutch oven preheats. Then you put it in the oven and let it bake. That's IT.

Knowing of my past baking mishaps and how I don't like to measure, my husband had low expectations. But then we sliced into the bread and it was perfectly - PERFECTLY - crusty on the outside and airy and soft on the inside. I don't even remember what dish I served this with. Honestly, I could have eaten the bread alone and been happy.

Although I still want to try some "harder" bread recipes, this was the perfect recipe for my first time, and I can't wait to make it again. It's so easy that I don't think I'll ever need to write the words "crusty bread" on my shopping list again.

If you want to change the look or shape of your bread, grab some food-safe string or twine and a sharp knife or scoring tool. To make the "pumpkin" shape below, I placed 4 pieces of twine out on a floured board, intersecting in the center, so it almost looks like 8 slices of pizza. Flour the top of the bread, and then tie each string up into the center. If you want to do more decorating, score each of the 8 sections of the bread with 3 lines using a very sharp paring knife or a scoring tool. 

No-Knead Crusty Bread
Source: The Comfort of Cooking

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2-3 teaspoon kosher 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* Parchment paper. 
  • In a large bowl, stir together the flour, salt, and yeast.
  • Add the water and stir using a wooden spoon until the mixture forms a shaggy but cohesive dough.
  • Cover bowl tightly with plastic wrap. Let dough sit at room temperature for 8-24 hours. Dough will bubble up and rise.
  • An hour and a half before you want to eat the bread, preheat your 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 and, 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 the Dutch oven. With floured hands, place the bread on a sheet of parchment paper and then transfer to the Dutch oven. 
  • Bake for 30 minutes covered. Remove cover and bake for 7-15 minutes more, uncovered (just keep an eye on it as cooking times will vary).
  • Remove the bread and place on a cutting board. Slice and serve!

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  1. This looks so amazing and easy! I can't wait to try it!

  2. I make this bread also! I have also added granulated garlic to the water (to flavor the water and get the garlic flavor more through out the bread) and let it sit for a few minutes, while I am getting the rest of the ingredients measured out. Would be great with other herbs as well!

  3. Absolutely - you are just creating steam inside the cooking vessel so make sure you put the foil on tightly. Also make sure the bakeware you are using can preheat to 450 for 30 minutes.