Crusty Artisan Bread

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This crusty bread recipe is astonishingly easy — no kneading required — and it makes three beautiful loaves, which you can bake as needed.

This homemade artisan bread recipe is astonishingly easy, and it makes enough for three delicious loaves, which you can bake as needed. What’s more, the dough takes just five minutes to make, does not require kneading or any special equipment, and can rest in the fridge for up to two weeks (the flavor becomes more complex the longer it sits). The recipe is modestly adapted from one of my favorite baking books, Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes A Day by Jeff Hertzberg M.D. and Zoë François.

What You’ll Need To Make Crusty Artisan Bread

ingredients for homemade bread

This recipe has just four ingredients: all-purpose flour, instant yeast, kosher salt, and water. (The cornmeal is for dusting the pan.) As you can see, I use instant (or rapid-rise) yeast. Active dry yeast may be used instead of instant yeast, however, the dough will take longer to rise. To give active dry yeast a boost, you can dissolve it in the lukewarm water and salt and let it sit until frothy, about 10 minutes. After that, add it to the flour and proceed with the recipe.

How To Make Crusty Artisan Bread

flour, yeast and salt in mixing bowl

In a very large (6-quart) bowl, combine the flour, salt, and yeast. Mix to combine.

mixed dry ingredients

Add 3 cups of lukewarm water (no need to be exact but lukewarm is about 100°F).

adding water

Stir with a wooden spoon until the mixture is uniformly moist, without any patches of flour.

bread dough

The dough should be sticky and conform to the shape of the bowl. If your dough is too dry, add a few tablespoons more warm water. If it’s too wet, add a few tablespoons of flour. Cover the bowl loosely with plastic wrap and let it sit on the counter in a warm spot for 2 hours. As you can see below, it will rise a lot!

dough after the first rise

When you’re ready to bake a loaf, pull out one-third of the dough.

removing some of the bread dough from the bowl

Coat the outside lightly with flour (you don’t want to incorporate more flour into the dough, you just want to be able to handle it). Gently work the dough into a smooth ball, stretching the surface and tucking the ends underneath.

shaping the bread dough into a ball

Put the dough ball onto a cornmeal-dusted baking sheet and let rest at room temperature, uncovered, for about 40 minutes. (If the dough has been refrigerated, allow it to rise for 60 minutes, or up to 90 minutes if you want a more open and airy crumb structure.) The dough will rise a bit. It may also spread/flatten a bit; that’s okay.

letting the bread dough rest on a baking sheet

The dough will rise a bit.

bread dough after second rise

Generously dust the dough with flour. Using a sharp knife, make a few 1/2-inch-deep slashes in the dough — a scallop, cross, or tic tac toe pattern all look nice.

slashing the bread dough

Set a metal pan on the bottom rack of a preheated 450°F-oven. Slide the baking sheet with the dough into the oven, and carefully fill the metal cake pan with one cup of hot tap water. This creates steam in the oven. (Try to do this quickly so as not to let heat out of the oven.) Bake until the loaf is golden brown, about 30 minutes. Cool completely on a wire rack.

baked bread
This bread is best enjoyed fresh on the day it is made. Once sliced, place the loaf cut-side down on a cutting board or plate and leave it uncovered.

How To Freeze

The dough can be portioned into thirds and frozen in airtight plastic containers for up to 1 month. Defrost the dough in the refrigerator overnight, then shape, rest and bake as usual. The baked loaves can also be frozen whole or sliced. Wrap in a zip-top freezer bag and freeze for up to 1 month. To thaw, take the bread out of the freezer and let it come to room temperature, about 3 hours. Reheat in a 350°F oven until warmed through, about 10 minutes.

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Crusty Artisan Bread

This crusty bread recipe is astonishingly easy — no kneading required — and it makes three beautiful loaves, which you can bake as needed.

Servings: 3 loaves
Prep Time: 10 Minutes
Cook Time: 30 Minutes
Total Time: 40 Minutes, plus 2 hours and 40 minutes to rise

Ingredients

  • 6-1/2 cups all-purpose flour, spooned into measuring cup and leveled-off (preferably King Arthur; see note)
  • 4 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons instant/rapid-rise yeast (see note)
  • 3 cups lukewarm water (no need to be exact but lukewarm is about 100°F)
  • Cornmeal, for dusting the pan

Instructions

  1. In a very large (6-quart) bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and yeast. Add the water and stir with a wooden spoon until the mixture is uniformly moist, without any patches of flour. The dough should be sticky and conform to the shape of the bowl. If your dough is too dry, add a few tablespoons more warm water. If it's too wet, add a few tablespoons of flour. (See the step-by-step photos for guidance on what the dough should look like.) Cover the bowl loosely with plastic wrap and let it sit on the counter in a warm spot for 2 hours. If you plan to bake a loaf immediately, proceed to the next step. Otherwise, place the bowl of dough in the refrigerator to be used over the next 14 days. (Once refrigerated, the dough will shrink back a bit; that's okay. Do not punch down the dough at any point, and keep it loosely covered with plastic wrap.)
  2. Dust a sturdy baking sheet with cornmeal.
  3. Dust the surface of the dough and your hands lightly with flour. Pull out one-third of the dough and coat the outside lightly with flour (you don't want to incorporate more flour into the dough, you just want to be able to handle it). Gently work the dough into a smooth ball, stretching the surface and tucking the ends underneath, adding more flour as needed so it doesn't stick to your hands. (Don't overwork the dough; this process should only take about 30 seconds.) Put the dough ball onto the prepared baking sheet and let it rest at room temperature, uncovered, for about 40 minutes. (If the dough has been refrigerated, allow it to rise for 60 minutes, or up to 90 minutes if you want a more open and airy crumb structure.) The dough will rise a bit. It may also spread/flatten a bit; that's okay.
  4. Preheat the oven to 450°F. Set one rack in the lowest position of the oven and one rack in the middle position. Place a metal pan (any metal cake pan or broiler pan will work; just don't use glass) on the bottom rack. (You will fill this with water later to create steam in the oven).
  5. Generously dust the dough with flour. Using a sharp knife, make a few 1/2-inch-deep slashes in the dough -- a scallop, cross, or tic tac toe pattern all look nice.
  6. Slide the baking sheet with the dough into the oven, and carefully fill the metal cake pan with one cup of hot tap water. (Try to do this quickly so as not to let heat out of the oven.) Bake until the loaf is golden brown, about 30 minutes. Cool completely on a wire rack.
  7. This bread is best enjoyed fresh on the day it is made. Once sliced, place the loaf cut-side down on a cutting board or plate and leave it uncovered. (If it lasts beyond a day, I suggest slicing and freezing.)
  8. Freezer-Friendly Instructions The dough can be portioned into thirds and frozen in airtight plastic containers for up to 1 month. Defrost the dough in the refrigerator overnight, then shape, rest and bake as usual. The baked loaves can also be frozen whole or sliced: Wrap in a zip-top freezer bag and freeze for up to 1 month. (If you plan to use slices one at a time, place pieces of parchment between them so they don't stick.) To thaw, take the bread out of the freezer and let it come to room temperature on the countertop. Reheat in a 350°F oven until warmed through, about 10 minutes.
  9. Note: Active dry yeast may be used instead of instant/rapid-rise yeast, however, the dough will take longer to rise. To give active dry yeast a boost, you can dissolve it in the lukewarm water and let it sit until frothy, about 10 minutes. After that, add it to the flour and salt, and proceed with the recipe.
  10. Note: I use King Arthur flour, which is higher in protein than some other all-purpose flours. If using a flour with a lower protein content, such as Gold Medal, you will likely need to add a few more tablespoons of flour.

Nutrition Information

Powered by Edamam

  • Serving size: 1 slice
  • Calories: 100
  • Fat: 0 g
  • Saturated fat: 0 g
  • Carbohydrates: 21 g
  • Sugar: 0 g
  • Fiber: 1 g
  • Protein: 3 g
  • Sodium: 119 mg
  • Cholesterol: 0 mg

This website is written and produced for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and the nutritional data on this site has not been evaluated or approved by a nutritionist or the Food and Drug Administration. Nutritional information is offered as a courtesy and should not be construed as a guarantee. The data is calculated through an online nutritional calculator, Edamam.com. Although I do my best to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures should be considered estimates only. Varying factors such as product types or brands purchased, natural fluctuations in fresh produce, and the way ingredients are processed change the effective nutritional information in any given recipe. Furthermore, different online calculators provide different results depending on their own nutrition fact sources and algorithms. To obtain the most accurate nutritional information in a given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe, using your preferred nutrition calculator.

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Comments

  • So good, I’m having one for breakfast. Great results looks exactly as shown.

    • — Lainey on January 21, 2022
    • Reply
  • Jenn,
    Can I make this crusty artisan bread in a dutch oven? The size of mine is 2-quart.
    Eloise

    • — Eloise on January 20, 2022
    • Reply
    • Hi Eloise, It may fit but it could be a little tight. To remove any guesswork, you may want to stick with the baking sheet. Hope that helps!

      • — Jenn on January 21, 2022
      • Reply
  • This was the easiest bread I’ve made – results are crusty and flavorful as promised.
    Having remaining dough in fridge allowed for fresh baked bread 2 days later with little effort.
    (It did continue to rise under refrigeration – be sure to put it in a larger bowl.)

    • — Rene Madara on January 20, 2022
    • Reply
  • Does it make a difference if you use non-bleached flour vs. bleached flour?

    • — Dianna on January 16, 2022
    • Reply
    • Nope!

      • — Jenn on January 17, 2022
      • Reply
  • Many thanks for this easy, delicious recipe, Jenn. Yours are never fails and always delicious.

    Request: the next time you make this recipe, would you mind please weighing the flour and letting us know how many grams you used? I’ve gotten out of the scoop-flour-to-measure routine and find it quite inaccurate – and I also lose count 😉 Weighing is much simpler for me.

    According to King Arthur’s weight chart (https://www.kingarthurbaking.com/learn/ingredient-weight-chart) 1 cup of their AP flour is 120 g, so that should mean the total weight is 780 g unless my calculator is messed up. Curious to know if that’s what you use.

    Thanks!

    • — Florida Gal on January 8, 2022
    • Reply
    • Hi, So glad you like the bread! The great majority of my recipes (including this one) include conversions to metric/weight measurements. To view them, scroll down to the recipe, and immediately under the recipe title on the right side, you’ll see a little toggle. If you move it from “cup measures” to metric, you’ll see measurements that will work for you. My conversions are slightly different from what you mentioned. I find that 1 cup of all-purpose flour weighs 130 grams so you’ll see that the recipe calls for a total of 845 grams of flour. Hope that helps!

      • — Jenn on January 10, 2022
      • Reply
  • I’ve now made this recipe twice…both times they came out great. Except…the top gets browned, tapping the breads sound hollow as they should, but the bottom of the loaves are still whitish. I didn’t have corn meal to put on the bottom of the baking sheet, so I used flour. Is this why they didn’t brown up? Other than that issue, this recipe is a keeper.

    • — R. Bromberg on January 5, 2022
    • Reply
    • Hi, if you put flour on the pan, that is likely leading to some of the white color you see on the bottom of the bread. As long as it’s done on the inside and cooked to your liking, I wouldn’t worry about it.

      • — Jenn on January 5, 2022
      • Reply
  • The only no knead bread I make now.
    I’ve tried so many no knead breads using a dutch oven or a sheet pan and this is the only one that doesn’t give me that extremely hard bottom crust. I cut the recipe in half and it makes enough for the 2 of us. I put it on a mini sheet pan on parchment paper, because we do not like the crunchy corn meal. It always comes of delish!.
    Thank you so much for this recipe.

    • — Pumpkinpie101997 on January 4, 2022
    • Reply
  • Again, my go-to recipe source is a winner. I made this bread today and it’s the best ever of what I’ve made. In my opinion, it’s better tasting and easier to make than the Dutch Oven bread I’ve been making.

    • — Ellen on December 28, 2021
    • Reply
  • Made this recipe and it is so easy and so good! Had a few questions but everything I needed to know was answered in replies to other peoples comments. I love this web site! Thanks Jenn!

    • — Tammy on December 9, 2021
    • Reply
  • I’ve made this bread a bunch of times, absolutely fantastic by the way, but I was wondering how I would make it if I wanted to bake it as 1 loaf in a Dutch oven ?

    • — Jaymie on December 3, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi Jaymie, Glad you like it! You can bake it in a Dutch oven just as the recipe indicates; I’d keep it covered for 20 minutes and then remove it for the last 10 minutes of baking. Hope that helps!

      • — Jenn on December 3, 2021
      • Reply
      • Hi Jenn, I am also wanting to use a dutch oven. Just wondering if I should still put a cake pan with water in it at the bottom of the oven or is it redundant because we are using a dutch oven (ie. the dutch oven would give the same effect)? Thanks so much!

        • — Cherice on December 6, 2021
        • Reply
        • Hi Cherice, If using a Dutch oven, I think you can get away without the water. Hope you enjoy!

          • — Jenn on December 7, 2021
          • Reply
  • Sorry, let me send this again!! Seems my other message disappeared. So I let the dough rise for the 2 hours, and now I split it in 3. Before freezing, do I let it rise for the other 40 minutes again? I’m making only one loaf this evening and freezing the other 2. Thank you so much.

    • — Fran on December 2, 2021
    • Reply

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