You are four simple ingredients (and some time) away from a crusty, yet tender, loaf of bread. With just bread flour, salt, yeast, and water you can make a bakery-style loaf right in your own kitchen. Didn’t plan ahead, and want to get started right away? All-purpose flour will work, but the beauty of bread flour (we love King Arthur Unbleached Bread Flour) is that its high gluten content will give the loaf extra structure. When measuring out the ingredients, a digital scale is the most accurate, but if that’s not an option just make sure to use dry measuring cups for the flour and a liquid measuring cup for the water. (Bread is easy; the hardest part is being diligent while measuring the ingredients.) Once you’ve got a well-combined mixture, be patient with the time it needs to rest. A nice, long rise in a warm spot is how the dough develops deep flavor. The second rise is much shorter—only 2 hours max. Then, it’s time to dust off the trusty Dutch oven, preheat it in a hot oven, and get that bread baking. “The pot acts as an oven within the oven, trapping the steam created by the dough,” says Jim Lahey, the founder of Sullivan Street Bakery in New York City, who helped popularize the no-knead method. How do you know when it’s ready? Tap the top of the loaf to test for doneness. According to Apollonia Poilâne, CEO and owner of the famed Poilâne bakery in Paris, it “should sound like knocking on a wooden door.” Do stick to that 1 hour of cooling time after it comes out of the oven for the loaf to complete its magic. You won’t regret it.

Pam Lolley
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Ingredients

Ingredient Checklist

Directions

Instructions Checklist
  • Whisk together flour, salt, and yeast in a large bowl. Gradually stir in water until no dry bits of flour remain and mixture is well combined. Cover bowl tightly with plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature until very bubbly and consistency resembles pancake batter, 12 to 18 hours.

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  • Turn dough out onto a generously floured surface or floured parchment paper. (Dough will be very loose.) Incorporating as little flour into the dough as possible, shape into a taut ball by folding edges of dough in toward middle and repeating folding process until dough begins to develop structure and hold its shape, 2 to 3 minutes. Line a medium (9-inch diameter) bowl with a large piece of parchment paper that goes up sides bowl; flour parchment. Gently lift and place dough, seam side down, into prepared bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let stand in a draft-free warm place until doubled in size, 1 to 2 hours.

  • Preheat oven to 500°F. About 20 minutes before baking, place a cast-iron Dutch oven (5-quart or larger) with lid in oven to preheat.

  • Once Dutch oven is fully preheated, remove from oven and carefully remove lid. Carefully lift dough using the parchment paper as handles and place dough into hot Dutch oven. Using shears or a very sharp knife, make one or multiple slits down the middle into the dough about ½-inch deep. Replace lid to cover pot and return to oven. Reduce oven temperature to 450°F. Bake, covered, until loaf has increased in volume and turned a light golden brown, 28 to 30 minutes. Remove lid and continue baking until a deep golden brown, 12 to 15 more minutes. Carefully transfer loaf, by lifting parchment paper and using as handles, to a wire rack. Remove parchment and let cool on wire rack, at least 1 hour before slicing.