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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Reviews & Comments

  • Absolutely delicious! What an easy wonderful recipe! I made this for the first time and it will be made many many times going forward. Thank you for the easy delicious recipe!

    • — Brenda on January 24, 2021
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  • This recipe exceeded my expectations. So flavourful, with the perfect crust and chewy inside. And easy to make. I used unbleached all-purpose Robin Hood flour (Canada) and it was perfect!

    • — Suzanna on January 22, 2021
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  • Hello, I would like to try this recipe but the flour I use has 4g of protein per 30g of flour.
    This represents 13,3% flour content, how do you suggest I adjust the amount of flour? and remaining ingredients, if required…
    Thank you,
    Tina

    • — Tina Camill on January 22, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi Tina, I think it should work with no adjustments. Hope you enjoy!

      • — Jenn on January 22, 2021
      • Reply
  • Hi Jenn,

    We have organic bakers flour at home. Can I use that instead of all purpose flour?

    Thanks

    • — Yoshiko on January 22, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi Yoshiko, I am not familiar with Baker’s flour so I can’t say for sure – sorry I can’t be more helpful!

      • — Jenn on January 22, 2021
      • Reply
  • Hi, I make this bread all the time now, excellent recipe. I sometimes add a 1/4 cup of wheat germ, and flaxseed. Thank you for the excellent recipe.
    Judith

    • — Judith Kerr on January 21, 2021
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  • Jen, I’m so happy with all your recipes that I have tried and I have your wonderful book
    I really love this bread recipe, my husband reminds me when it’s time to replenish our supply. We eat one loaf and freeze the other two. I have been making this bread for several months now.
    I follow the recipe exactly and the bread comes out perfect every time.
    I would like to try using some whole wheat flour instead of all white flour
    What would the proportions be?
    Thanks Jen for helping me make such wonderful meals
    Nancy

    • — Nancy I gram on January 18, 2021
    • Reply
    • So glad you like this and that it has become a staple in your house! I’ve only made this with all-purpose flour so I can’t confidently say how it will turn out with different kinds of flour. King Arthur has a variety of bread recipes that call for whole-grain flours if you want to check them out here. And if you have any interest in buying a cookbook, this recipe was adapted from cookbook authors Jeff Hertzberg M.D. and Zoë François and they also have a book that focuses on whole grain bread recipes.

      • — Jenn on January 18, 2021
      • Reply
  • First time I ever made bread…. what took me so long? This recipe is so easy and the bread is fantastic. My son only wants this bread from now on!

    • — Valerie Haddad on January 18, 2021
    • Reply
  • I don’t normally write reviews, but I had to comment on this! Your recipe is amazing!! The crust was crunchy, the inside soft and the taste was delicious!! I followed the recipe as written and my crusty bread couldn’t have been better! My husband and I ate the first loaf in one evening!

    • — Becky on January 13, 2021
    • Reply
  • Hi Jenn,
    I sure hope you read this. First, to the bakers at home — this bread is amazing and easy to make. I use my kitchenaid mixer to incorporate the wet & dry ingredients – works lovely.

    Here’s my question that I’m dying to know. I’d really like to try to make a rosemary bread. Can I use this recipe as a base somehow? How might you tweak it? I was picturing something like a rosemary and sea salt combo, but I’ll take any wisdom you care to share.

    Many thanks! I don’t often post comments but we love your recipes.

    • — Pam Morris on January 10, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi Pam, so glad you enjoyed the bread! I do think you could incorporate some rosemary into the dough and sprinkle some sea salt on top prior to baking. Please LMK how it turns out if you try it!

      • — Jenn on January 11, 2021
      • Reply
  • I love this makes a large amount of dough. If I use more than 1/3 in my dutch oven to bake, does the 30 minute time need to be adjusted? I usually bake 1/3 in the dutch oven for 30 covered and then an additional 10-15 uncovered to brown. Comes out perfect but not sure with a larger amount.

    • — JJB on January 7, 2021
    • Reply
    • Yes, I do think it will take some additional time in the oven, but not sure by how much so I’d just keep close eye on it. 🙂

      • — Jenn on January 7, 2021
      • Reply
  • I made two loaves and am saving one for later – thank you!!! 2 quick questions:

    1. The loaves I made came out a bit more “spongey” than I’d like, and I let it cool down fully before cutting into it. I used bread flour instead of all-purpose – maybe this is why? If anything, the raw dough was pretty sticky and flat when it was setting – maybe I needed more flour?

    2. I portioned the dough into 3 parts, cooked two of them but left the last one to keep rising. It was probably laying around for about 3-4 hours in total. The outer layer was pretty dry already. I threw it into the fridge for a couple hours thinking I could cook it later, but ended up running out of time so I threw it into the freezer…. is it still useable? haha

    THANKS SO MUCH!!!! 🙂

    • — Amanda on January 6, 2021
    • Reply
    • Hi Amanda, I’m not 100 percent sure if the bread flour would cause the bread to be spongey, but for the most predictable results, I’d stick with all-purpose flour. And again, I’m not sure if the dough that sat for longer will be problematic, but I definitely think it’s worth baking to see how it comes out.

      • — Jenn on January 7, 2021
      • Reply
  • Hi ,

    If no cornmeal around . Is there any other substitute ?

    Thanks,
    Winnie

    • — Winjie on December 26, 2020
    • Reply
    • Hi Winjie, You can bake the bread on parchment paper (keep in mind the paper will brown from the high heat).

      • — Jenn on December 26, 2020
      • Reply
  • I have taken to baking bread again. I am still a novice. I went by your instructions to the letter. However when it came time 3 hrs to roll the dough out of the dish it was tremendously wet and sticky. I tried to do the fold over knead but the dough was sooo sticky I had to add flower. I know that is the wrong thong to do but I had no choice. It never got to a smooth ball. I put it in the dutch oven still very wet and sticky. Needless to say the loaf looked pretty but was very heavy probably to my own doing trying to wrestle with the sticky dough.

    • — Tom Howard on December 24, 2020
    • Reply
  • Jenn, I bought a pack of fresh east and would like to make your cinnamon swirl bread from your book. How do I start baking with fresh/wet east?

    • — Edita on December 22, 2020
    • Reply
    • Hi Edita, This is a good overview. Hope that helps!

      • — Jenn on December 23, 2020
      • Reply
      • Thank you.that helps!

        • — Edita on December 26, 2020
        • Reply
  • Hello Jen!

    Thank you for your great recipes!

    I made this bread a few months back and it had the lovely crunchy crust but the last couple of times I’ve made it, the outside turns soft and I don’t think I did anything differently. What do you think is causing it to soften and what can I do to keep the outside crust hard and crunchy?

    • — Victoria on December 22, 2020
    • Reply
    • Hi Victoria, When does it soften? Is it after you remove it from the oven? How have you been storing it?

      • — Jenn on December 22, 2020
      • Reply
      • Hi Jen! It’s after I pull it from the oven. Last nights bread was baked just before dinner and by the time I served it (maybe 15-20 minutes) the crust was no longer hard. It was when I pulled it out because I recall tapping the top and thought it was great then when it was time to slice it was soft. Not as soft as the inside of the bread but definitely not crunchy.

        • — Victoria on December 22, 2020
        • Reply
        • Hi Victoria, It sounds like it could have used a few extra minutes in the oven.

          • — Jenn on December 23, 2020
          • Reply
        • same for me – tasted great but after it sat out and cooled completely it got soft.

          • — Alecia Wolf on January 25, 2021
          • Reply
  • Why not a glass pan?

    • — Terri on December 21, 2020
    • Reply
    • I’ve never made this in a glass pan — the baking sheet works very nicely. Hope you enjoy if you make it!

      • — Jenn on December 22, 2020
      • Reply
  • Amazing! I was surprised by how easy this was to make (but then again, I have never had one of your recipes cease to amaze). It is delicious! My son said, “this tastes like the fresh bread at our favorite restaurant.” I only baked one loaf – love that the dough can stay in the fridge for awhile – fresh bread for a few days! THANK YOU!

    • — Julie Jennings on December 21, 2020
    • Reply
  • Thank you Jenn for this recipe! It is the 4th bread recipe I have tried and FINALLY — the crust and texture we love!

    • — Sharon on December 16, 2020
    • Reply
  • Hi! Made this today in my le Creuset dutch oven and it is great! Question, could I make one large loaf in my large 7.25 quart round dutch oven?

    • — Anne Brown on December 15, 2020
    • Reply
    • Hi Anne, I haven’t tried it, but I think it should fit. Please report back if you try it!

      • — Jenn on December 16, 2020
      • Reply
  • Hi Jen

    Could you explain what you mean by cover loosely with plastic wrap? Do I leave gaps in the plastic covering along the edge of the bowl to let air circulate?

    Thanks so much

    • — Nancy on December 12, 2020
    • Reply
    • Hi Nancy, what I mean is you can just lay a piece of plastic wrap on top of the bowl; you don’t need to form a tight seal. And it’s OK if there’s a little gap between the edge of the plastic wrap and the ball in a spot or two. Hope that clarifies!

      • — Jenn on December 14, 2020
      • Reply
  • Jenn, can I make this with white whole wheat flour? If so, any adjustments to the amount of flour or the baking time? Thanks!

    • — Elizabeth on December 6, 2020
    • Reply
    • Hi Elizabeth, I’ve only made this with all-purpose flour so I can’t confidently say how it will turn out with different kinds of flour. King Arthur has a variety of bread recipes that call for whole-grain flours if you want to check them out here. And if you have any interest in buying a cookbook, this recipe was adapted from cookbook authors Jeff Hertzberg M.D. and Zoë François and they also have a book that focuses on whole grain bread recipes.

      • — Jenn on December 7, 2020
      • Reply
  • Another stand out recipe, Jenn! A non-recipe related question – any tips you can share on how to cut it neatly? My serrated knife made a mess of the beautiful bread. Thanks, Jenn!

    • — Sam on December 4, 2020
    • Reply
    • Glad you liked it! Did you wait until it was fully cooled to slice it?

      • — Jenn on December 7, 2020
      • Reply
  • Hi Jenn,

    I have just come across this recipe and am wondering if you could give me the nutritional value per serving?

    Thanks

    • — Debbie Tomkins on December 3, 2020
    • Reply
    • Hi Debbie, I just added the nutritional information to the recipe. Hope you enjoy the bread if you make it!

      • — Jenn on December 9, 2020
      • Reply
  • This was so easy, delicious and great. So glad I’ve found your blog – every recipe is truly worth its 5 stars! Thank you for all your effort and for sharing them with us all.

    Regarding the recipe, I added roasted garlic and herb paste and it was incredible – going to try other variations soon. 🙂

    • — Danielle on November 29, 2020
    • Reply
  • I never knew I could make crusty bread at home! My family loved this bread (I made it into smaller buns). The only question I have is this: Anytime I make a dough with yeast (bread, pizza crust, etc.), the finished product always has a yeasty smell…it’s not overpowering, I just don’t like it. Bread from a bakery doesn’t have this yeasty smell, so I wonder why I get it when I bake bread at home? Is there anything I can add to the dough to mask this smell?

    • — Ann on November 26, 2020
    • Reply
    • Hi Ann, I can’t say I’ve experienced that smell in bread that’s been baked but I did look online and found this article that you may find useful. Hope it helps!

      • — Jenn on November 30, 2020
      • Reply
  • Hi Jenn. My first time making bread – never used yeast before and super intimidated. The only yeast I found is called ‘fast rise yeast’. Is that the right kind to use?

    • — Sam on November 20, 2020
    • Reply
    • Yep 🙂

      • — Jenn on November 22, 2020
      • Reply
  • Made bread for the first time using this recipe. I’ve always been intimidated by yeast, but found this recipe to be super easy and absolutely delicious!

    • — Janice W on October 31, 2020
    • Reply
  • I tried the bread in the pan and it made a beautiful loaf of bread. Because the pan is for a 1 1/2 pound loaf of bread I used half of the dough. My family loved it. My son has already requested for me to make it again. A new family tradition. Jenn, thank you for wonderful recipe.

    • — Kimberly on October 28, 2020
    • Reply
  • Crusty Artisan Bread Recipe: I’m concerned about the metric measurement in the recipe of 845 grams for 6 3/4 c AP flour. The info on the bag of my King Arthur Unbleached Flour shows it is 110 grams per cup. Using that figure, I compute total grams to be 748 for a full recipe, almost 100 grams less than the recipe indicates.

    I’m making the dough for the first time and I found the dough when combined using 710 ml to be quite stiff and not easily mixed. Can you confirm the 845 grams or should it be the 748 grams? Thank you so much for your feedback, sure appreciate it.

    • — Linda on October 27, 2020
    • Reply
    • Hi Linda, I know there’s some variability out there in terms of how many grams one cup of flour is. I use the spoon and level method for measuring flour and have weighed it many times. I consistently come up with 130 grams per cup so that’s where that number comes from. If you found that the dough is too stiff/dry, then I would trust your gut and cut back on the flour a little (but the recipe has worked well for me with the 845 grams of King Arthur flour). Hope that helps at least a bit!

      • — Jenn on October 28, 2020
      • Reply
      • Hi Jenn: Thank you so much for your thoughtful response, sure appreciate it. Perhaps the difference is in the all purpose flour. I am using KA unbleached all purpose flour so maybe that has something to do with it. I’ll be baking my first loaf tomorrow morning and looking forward to having the butter ready as soon as it’s cool enough to enjoy.

        • — Linda on October 29, 2020
        • Reply
  • Hi Jenn and fellow followers on Jenn!
    Last evening I made this Artisan Bread into buns to go with “Autumn Carrot and Sweet Potato Soup” (or a version of it anyway😊)!
    Here’s what I did for the buns: I halved the recipe, basically, using 1 envelop of Instant/Quick Rise Yeast (8g or 2 1/4 tsp or 11ml). Followed your recipe Method as you wrote it but instead of making 1 or 2 loaves, I pulled the dough into 8 decent-sized individual buns, dusted them with flour, cut into the tops and let them rise as the oven heated up. They baked beautifully in 450 oven on the middle shelf with the water bath on the lower shelf, in about 25-30 mins.
    They were crusty on the outside and beautifully soft and light in texture on the inside!
    Thanks Jenn, for ALL your great recipes……I have passed your website link on to family and friends, everyone gets hooked😊👍

    • — Mary in BC Canada on October 27, 2020
    • Reply
  • Tried this bread with a portion of whole wheat flour (King Arthur) because I wanted to try more than just “white bread” (although my friend made this with just all purpose flour and it was great). I don’t really know anything about making bread but a bit of internet research made it seem possible so I gave it a try. I used 4 1/2 cups generic all purpose flour and 2 cups King Arthur white whole wheat flour (13% protein) and it worked! More dense which was fine by me and the flavor was great (more robust). Took some photos but don’t know how to share them.

    • — Mary Van Haren on October 19, 2020
    • Reply
    • Glad you liked it and good to know it worked with the tweaks! Unfortunately, the blog isn’t set up to receive pictures but if you’re on Instagram, you can share it there; be sure to tag me @onceuponachef!

      • — Jenn on October 20, 2020
      • Reply

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