This is the crusty bread recipe to end all crusty bread recipes. It’s my go-to and it turns out beautiful every time. There’s a reason why the original recipe has 5 star reviews from 3K people. To my initial disbelief, it’s also the easiest bread recipe I’ve ever encountered as it requires no kneading, no specific shaping, and no scoring. It’s truly fail proof and I’m happy that such a simple recipe can produce such amazing bread. The only thing that it requires is time. It’s very little effort on your part but you do have to prep it ahead of time and let it sit. You’ll impress everyone with this, trust me, and you won’t ever have to spend $7 for a similar loaf at the local bakery ever again.
This bread is perfect for sandwiches, dipping into balsamic vinegar and olive oil, a side for soup, or just by itself. It’s very crusty, which I love, but this isn’t the bread for you if you don’t like a supremely crunchy crust.
- 3 cups (430 g) of all purpose or bread flour (I like bread flour and substituting up to 1 cup of whole wheat flour)
- 1/4 teaspoon instant yeast
- 2 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1 5/8 cups (345 g) lukewarm water
- In a large bowl combine flour, yeast and salt. Add 1 5/8 cups water, and stir until blended; dough will be shaggy and sticky. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rest at least 12 hours, preferably about 18, at warm room temperature, about 70 degrees.
- Dough is ready when its surface is dotted with bubbles. Lightly flour a work surface and place dough on it; sprinkle it with a little more flour and fold it over on itself once or twice.
- Using just enough flour to keep dough from sticking to a work surface or to your fingers, gently and quickly shape dough into a ball. Generously coat a piece of parchment paper with flour and place the dough ball seam side down. Sprinkle the top with flour and cover with a towel and let rise for about 2 hours. When it is ready, dough will be more than double in size and will not readily spring back when poked with a finger.
- At least a half-hour before dough is ready, heat oven to 450 degrees. Put a 6- to 8-quart heavy covered pot (cast iron, enamel, Pyrex or ceramic) in oven as it heats. When dough is ready, carefully remove pot from oven. Grab onto the parchment and turn dough over into pot, seam side up; it may look like a mess, but that is O.K. Shake pan once or twice if dough is unevenly distributed; it will straighten out as it bakes. Cover with lid and bake 30 minutes, then remove lid and bake another 15 to 30 minutes, until loaf is beautifully browned. Cool on a rack.
Adapted from NYT Cooking.