Rustic No Knead Artisan Bread

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Nothing brings a meal to completion like a good loaf of homemade bread. For 99¢ you can usually pick up a loaf of French bread at the grocery store, which begs the question, Why would you make bread at home? Why would you spend hours kneading and shaping and rising dough when you could just stop by the grocery store and grab a loaf?

It’s a legitimate question, and sometimes grabbing that store-bought loaf is the right choice. But other times putting in a few minutes mixing up flour, yeast, and water can be a great stress-reliever that results in soothing aromas filling your home.

I recently shared a post on Instagram and Facebook asking my readers if they’d like to know how I make this Rustic No Knead Artisan Bread.

The answer was an enthusiastic Yes please! The original recipe came from The Italian Dish Blog, but I’ve made a few minor adjustments.

The greatest appeal of this bread for most people is the no knead aspect. A lot of people are afraid of the kneading process because it’s a practice that most current generations were never taught. After all, what’s the best thing since sliced bread?

Kneading is really only beating the dough up a little to activate the yeast and help the bread to rise. And I have to admit:  calling this bread no knead is a little deceptive. Instead of turning the dough out on a floured surface and kneading it by hand, we’re really just kneading it with a wooden spoon instead. It really is that simple. Stirring the dough with a wooden spoon is the right amount of kneading for this simple, chewy bread with a hard crust.

This bread is perfect for so many meals. It holds its shape well enough to be great for dipping and soaking up sauces. It slices easily for making garlic toast. It makes a very filling grilled cheese sandwich.

As with most homemade breads, it’s best eaten the day it’s baked, although the next day works as long as it’s wrapped up. The dough makes two round loaves. Our family has no problem finishing off one loaf with a meal. I usually shape and bake both loaves with the intention of eating the second loaf the next day, but the dough can also be refrigerated for a day or two before shaping and baking. I’ll tell you more about that later.

This dough is also very forgiving. It’s a great beginner recipe because it still turns out every time even if there’s too much or too little flour, or if it rises for too long or not quite long enough. The beauty is in its imperfections, and anybody can make this bread!

 

So here’s what you need:

Bread flour  |  Sugar  |  Salt  |  Yeast  |  Water

This post may contain affiliate links. Affiliate link disclosure shared below.

 

I typically have three types of flour in my house:  all-purpose flour, self-rising flour for my biscuits and beer bread muffins, and bread flour. Bread flour is a little more expensive, and honestly I don’t know what makes it different from all-purpose flour, but I can’t argue with the results in my baking. Since I don’t use the bread flour or self-rising flour very often I keep them in the refrigerator to keep them fresh.

 

You’ll also need the following utensils:

Large bowl  |  Wooden spoon  |  Tea towel  |  Measuring cups  |  Measuring spoons  |  Cast iron skillet or pizza stone

 

Rustic No Knead Artisan Bread

 

Step 1 ~ 5 minutes

Measure out 1½ c hot water.

If you need to warm it up in the microwave you can. It should be hot, but not so hot that you can’t touch it. Yeast grows when it’s hot, but too much heat will kill it. Think hot dish water to be on the safe side.

Add 2¼ tsp or 1 packet active dry yeast {not quick action}.

Add 1 tsp sugar

and 2¼ tsp salt to the measuring cup.

The sugar is the food for the yeast. It gives the yeast the energy to cause the dough to rise.

Stir the contents of the measuring cup together gently with a fork to dissolve the yeast, sugar, and salt. Let the yeast proof for a few minutes. If it turns frothy your yeast is good.

 

Step 2 ~ 2 minutes

In a large bowl measure out 3 c bread flour.

I use a plastic bowl because it doesn’t get cold like glass or ceramic does. The cold slows down the yeast, and I’m too impatient for that.

 

Step 3 ~ 10 minutes

Pour the proofed yeast into the bowl.

Grab a wooden spoon and start stirring. The dough will be clumpy and look dry, but just keep stirring.

As you stir the dough should mix more and more. Eventually the dough should become very sticky.

Depending on how sticky the dough is, sprinkle a little more flour in as you stir.

Eventually the dough should be more smooth than sticky, although it will still be slightly sticky. When the dough is more dull than shiny you can stop adding flour and stop stirring.

 

Step 4 ~ 1 – 4 hours

My little helper had helped measure the flour, and this was another good job for her. Cover the bowl with a large towel, and set it in a warm, draft-free place to rise.

Let it rise for at least an hour, but you can walk away and forget this dough for up to four hours.

 

Step 5 ~ 10 minutes

Give yourself at least an hour and a half before you’d like to serve the bread to complete this next step. It’s hard to tell in the picture, but our bread has grown.

Now instead of being clumpy, it’s smoother and full of tiny air bubbles, a scientific reaction caused by the yeast.

And it’ll probably be very sticky so sprinkle some flour on your hands before handling it.

See the shine? With bread dough, shine equals sticky.

Scoop the dough up and work with it for a few minutes, sprinkling flour as needed until it sticks to itself more than it sticks to your hands, although it will still stick to you some, too.

Dust the dough with a little more flour, and divide the dough in half by pinching it between your thumb and forefinger. Set the dough back in the bowl to rest while you prep the next station.

 

Step 6 ~ 5 minutes

Cut some parchment paper into two rectangles, about 8” x 9” and lay them on a large cutting board. Again, I avoid glass, tile, or metal surfaces to avoid adding too much cold to the bread.

Most people sprinkle cornmeal on their paper, but a LONG time ago I bought some Malt O’Meal for the kids because I loved it as a kid. Turns out NO ONE in our house likes to eat it, but it makes an awesome base for breads!

A little crunchy, and it helps keep the dough from sticking completely to the pan or paper, depending on the variety of bread.

Sprinkle your choice of cornmeal or Malt O’Meal on the paper.

 

Step 7 ~ 5 minutes

Pick up a dough ball, and pinch the dough underneath to create a smoother, tighter dough ball. This picture is upside down because it’s hard to hold dough with both hands and take a picture, but it shows the pinching process. Gently tug the dough downward and pinch.

Repeat with the second dough ball, OR spray a piece of plastic wrap with cooking spray, press the plastic wrap over the dough inside the bowl, and refrigerate for a day or two before shaping and baking.

If the dough has been refrigerated, set it out at least an hour before continuing to Step 8 to allow it to come to room temperature.

 

Step 8 ~ 40 – 90 minutes

Place the shaped dough ball(s) on the coated parchment paper.

Let them rest, uncovered, for 40 to 90 minutes.

I rested mine on the 40 minute side. It grew about an inch on all sides. The rate of rising will depend on how warm your kitchen is, and how sticky your dough was. Less sticky doughs will grow taller and not as much width-wise.

 

Step 9 ~ 20 minutes

While the dough is rising, preheat the oven to 450°. You’ll need a shallow pan for adding water to. The steam from the water gives the bread the hard crust that we want in this loaf. This is my dedicated water-in-the-oven pan.

It’s become so nasty from our hard water that this is the only thing I use it for.

You also need a cast-iron skillet or pizza stone. Usually when I bake both loaves I use the pizza stone because I can bake them both together. I opted for the cast iron this time because I knew we would only eat one loaf and the other could bake while we ate. Preheat your cast iron or pizza stone as directed by the manufacturer, and preheat the water pan on the bottom rack as well.

 

Step 10 ~ 2 minutes

When the dough has grown to your liking, sprinkle the loaves with more flour

and lightly score the top of the loaf in a crisscross pattern with a sharp knife.

I’ll tell you now that my cuts got a little too deep, and again that’s because it’s hard to take pictures of yourself cutting through dough. Your cuts should be about half as deep as mine.

Again, this bread is forgiving, so it’ll still taste great, but it’ll “bust” while it’s baking, as you’ll see in a minute.

 

Step 11 ~ 30 – 40 minutes

When the oven and pan are preheated, slide one loaf onto a flat rimmed baking sheet and transfer it to the oven.

Slide it onto the skillet or pizza stone.

Immediately pour about a cup of water into the water pan and shut the door. Bake the bread at 450° for 30 – 40 minutes. When the bread is done it should sound hollow when tapping on the bottom of the loaf.

This is where you can see that my loaf busted. That smooth dark area across the middle with no flour was once a slash mark. I can assure you that no one in my family cared, and that it still tasted as wonderful as always, but if you have your heart set on the cute cross on the top then watch the depth of your slashes.

Allow the bread to cool on a wire rack until it’s cool enough to handle.

Now it’s time to break bread! Yes, I could make a meal out of this.

In reality we paired this loaf with Gram Yozzo’s Meatballs with Venison in Homemade Sauce. This bread was the perfect tool to wipe up all the extra sauce off my plate.

Warm, chewy, crusty, and so delicious!

How quickly could you devour this loaf? Would there be any left after the meal?

Slice the loaf using a sharp serrated knife, slather with butter, and enjoy every bite!

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Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above may be “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services that I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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