This recipe is for anyone that loves bread. Crusty on the outside, chewy on the inside, and has alllll the delicious, comforting carbs. It boasts a right-out-of-the-bakery image, but with only 4 ingredients and no kneading, baking just doesn’t get any easier at home! With its slow fermentation, the flavor is amazing. I make this for a Farmer’s Market in the summer and of all my offerings, this always sells out first. I had someone tell me it was even better than the bread she had in France. You must try it for yourself!
Real talk: my husband who does not bake and very rarely cooks, made this bread before I did. He found a video on-line with Jim Lahey demonstrating how to make this amazing bread that not only met but surpassed the quality and freshness you’d get from an artisan bakery…and that you could make it at home with no special equipment and absolutely no time or effort kneading dough. And it is, indeed, amazing. I modified the recipe a bit to suit my style and I have made countless loaves since. This is the recipe I use in the summer when I bake loaf after loaf of fresh bread for a local farmer’s market, and it’s the bread my kids fawn over once it has just barely cooled enough after coming out of the oven filling our home with the most amazing scent!
If you haven’t made bread before and are nervous to do so, do yourself a favor and try this out. It’s so rewarding. The only part I ever get hung up on is that the dough is REALLY sticky so go in accepting that you need to oil up your hands and then have fun with it!
Don’t have a cast iron Dutch oven? You can still make this bread! I’ve had success using a large metal pot with a lid (both oven proof of course), and the bread was just as good although it took about 25% longer to bake in total. No biggy, your house will just smell amazing longer!
It’s such a forgiving recipe, and is easy to change up if you’re in mood for something a bit more dressed up through the addition of (e.g.) dried fruit or olives and herbs. Here is my take on the original recipe by @JimLaheySSB which was covered by the NY Times in 2006.
Crusty on the outside, chewy on the inside, this bread boasts a right-out-of-the-bakery image, but with only 4 ingredients and no kneading, baking just doesn't get any easier at home!
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp dry active yeast
- 1 1/2 cups water, room temperature
- Additional flour for dusting
In a large bowl, blend the flour, salt and yeast together. Add the water and mix with a wooden spoon, or your hands for about a minute until there's no flour visible. The dough should be very sticky.
Cover the bowl with a clean towel or plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature away from windows for 12-24 hours. The dough will look bubbly and will have doubled in size.
Generously dust a smooth work surface and your hands. Remove the dough from the bowl - I find going in a circular motion around the dough the easiest and least frustrating as it is very sticky and resists leaving the bowl. Do not add more flour! This dough is not the same as traditionally made kneaded dough. Once the dough is on your work surface, tuck the edges under to make a domed loaf. Place on a piece of parchment paper. Sprinkle with a bit of flour and cover with a tea towel or plastic wrap. Let rest for 1-2 hours until roughly doubled in size.
Half an hour before baking, place a 4-6 quart lidded, oven proof heavy pot (cast iron is ideal) in the center of the oven. Set the oven to 450°F.
Using pot holders, remove the very hot pot from the oven and take the lid off. Make 3 5-inch parallel slits on the top of the dough with a sharp knife. Quickly and carefully, taking the parchment paper too if it's easier, lift the dough and drop it into the pot, being careful not to burn yourself. Using a pot holder, place the lid on the pot and bake for 30 minutes, then remove the lid and bake for another 20-30 minutes until golden brown and firm. Using a wooden spoon, carefully remove the bread from the pot and let cool on a wire rack. Let rest for 45-60 minutes before slicing.
Don't have a cast iron Dutch oven? You can still make this bread! I've had success using a large metal pot with a lid (both oven proof of course), and the bread was just as good although it took about 25% longer to bake in total. No biggy, your house will just smell amazing longer 😉