EASY NO KNEAD ARTISAN BREAD FOR BEGINNERS
I have been spending more time in the the kitchen lately and have discovered something that I really enjoy doing that I NEVER thought I would before – baking bread! I am a home cook, not a baker. I don’t follow recipes (I might use them as inspiration) and I don’t measure (when I post a “recipe” here I have to recreate the dish and measure to share with you). Sure, I’ve made scratch cookies and cakes before, but did so almost begrudgingly. As a PhD egghead, I spent days reading about all the different bread types, learning about how yeast works, and scouring hundreds of recipes before attempting to make my first loaf. I discovered the correct wet to dry ingredients ratio, how much yeast to use and how to “bloom” yeast per loaf of bread, and a few different baking methods. And, because I’ve been making frozen store-bought rising yeast loaves and rolls for decades, I came up with a way to “quick rise” the dough cutting total time by almost half. During my research, I read A LOT! After trial an error. I came up with a foolproof way to make EASY NO KNEAD ARTISAN BREAD FOR BEGINNERS. No fancy stand mixer needed. Trust me, if I can make this anyone can! Are you ready?
What you’ll need [clickable shopping suggestions]:
- 6 quart Dutch oven with lid and oven safe handle – so many on the market and worth the investment! Great for stews, etc. – *OR a large cast iron skillet (not the same crust, but even easier; I will explain at the end of the post)
- Heat resistant gloves – standard mitts won’t work
- Pastry scraper – stainless steel or plastic
- Large clear oven safe mixing bowl – or buy a set so you can make more than one loaf at a time
- Microwave safe measuring cup – plastic or glass
- Instant read thermometer – handy tool
- Rubber spatula – you probably already have one in your kitchen
- A clean, dry service to work on; counter top or a cutting board works very well
- Any old metal pan
Ingredients FOR EASY NO KNEAD ARTISAN BREAD FOR BEGINNERS:
- 3 cups water (1 cup is for fast rise method – do not add to flour; yeast doesn’t like my hard tap water, so I use bottled spring water)
- 4 1/4 cup all purpose flour, slightly packed and leveled; plus ~1/2 more to work with
- 2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast (or one packet); instant yeast can be used with no need to “bloom” (just add to dry ingredients); however, I have used both and found the bread was more dense (i.e., it didn’t rise as much) when using instant yeast – again, not a baker, so maybe I didn’t use it correctly?
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 2 tsp coarse sea salt
- 1 tbsp olive or vegetable oil
Instructions FOR EASY NO KNEAD ARTISAN BREAD FOR BEGINNERS:
Pour 1 cup water into a cake or pie pan and set on bottom oven rack. Turn on oven for 3 minutes then turn it off. It should be warm like a sunny day, but not hot to the touch. This is to create a humid, warm environment that yeast thrives on. It cuts rising time about half.
Pour 2 cups water into measuring cup and microwave 30-45 seconds (microwaves vary). Check temperature with instant thermometer. Water should be between 100-105°F. Microwave a few more seconds if necessary. If water is too hot it will “kill” the yeast and your dough won’t rise. When water is at desired temperature, add yeast and sugar and gently whisk with a fork (the sugar helps activate the yeast). Set aside and allow to bloom for ~15 minutes. A frothy, creamy head should develop.
Put flour, salt, and any other dried or fresh herbs, cheese, garlic, raisins, or any other ingredients you desire in a dry missing bowl. This is where you can really get creative and have fun! Mix with your hands. Make a well in the middle and slowly pour in activated yeast. Wet your hand to avoid sticking and start to blend wet and dry together, turning the bowl, until they are all incorporated and the mix has been pulled away from the sides of the bowl. The dough should be “shaggy” (i.e., not too wet and it will not be a smooth ball).
Place bowl with dough in it inside warm oven on the middle rack. Close the door and let rise for ~45 minutes. It should double in size.
Take bowl out of the oven. If you gently poke it with your finger, it should deflate a bit. So fun to watch!
Turn oven on for 1 minute and turn off again.
Using a rubber spatula, gently pull the dough away from the sides, towards the center while turning the bowl, folding the dough until it forms another ball. Place back in oven for another 45 minute rise. It should double in size again.
Remove bowl and metal pan from oven. Lightly sprinkle flour onto your board (or working surface). With a floured hand, going in a circle around the bowl, dump dough onto the board. Sprinkle a bit of flour on top of the dough. This is wear the pastry scraper really comes in hand. Going in a circular motion, keep folding the dough up and unto itself until you form a ball.
Wash and dry the bowl. Drizzle oil inside and coat using a paper towel. Lightly dust the bowl. Lift dough with assistance of your handy scraper and return to bowl. Okay, this is your last rise time. Cover with a towel and leave on countertop for 1 hour.
While the dough is rising, preheat the Dutch oven with the lid on in a 450°F oven 45 minutes.
Using heat proof gloves, remove the Dutch oven. Careful – it will be scorching hot! If you want to add any toppings (e.g., everything bagel, poppy seeds, etc. use an egg white wash on top of the bread before baking). Gently place dough inside. Cover and bake for 30 minutes.
Remove cover and bake for an additional 15-20 minutes until golden brown. Remove loaf, let rest for 10 minutes before slicing. Baking in a Dutch oven creates a soft loaf with a very crispy crust (see below for alternative baking method that results in a slightly softer crust). Enjoy!
*ALTERNATIVE BAKING METHOD – EVEN EASIER AND NO DUTCH OVEN REQUIRED:
Follow all instructions above for making dough. You can divide recipe and make two loaves with different flavors and/or make one plain loaf, split, and add toppings before baking. Instead of a Dutch oven, preheat a well-oiled cast iron skillet – and a smaller one or other pan on the bottom rack – in 450°F oven for 20 minutes (it might smoke a bit). Carefully remove skillet and put your loaf(es) in the skillet. Put in oven and carefully dump 1 cup ice in pan on bottom rack. Bake small loaves for 20 minutes, and large for 25.
If you have any questions about EASY NO KNEAD ARTISAN BREAD FOR BEGINNERS, or would like to comment, please do so. Remember, always have fun in the kitchen!
I’m already geeking out on bread baking!
Blades for scoring bread pre-bake – haven’t used yet. Excited!