Rustic Crusty Bread

Do I have any other panini lovers out there? Ever since receiving this little gem* as a gift a couple of months ago, paninis have made a happy appearance for dinner at least every other week, if not weekly, in our home. Something about pressing a sandwich together to form a gooey, hot, mess of panini goodness makes a regular grilled cheese feel absolutely dinner-worthy. In fact, I’ve gone so panini crazy that I even put together a panini spreadsheet, if you will, to make the panini options even more user-friendly. I like to refer to this as my Make-a-Panini model. And yes, I have spreadsheet-love issues. It’s ok. I’ll seek out therapy eventually.

The only hangup with paninis is you have to have the right bread. I hate paying 4-5 bucks a loaf for bread I know I can make for pennies at home so I went on the search for the perfect panini bread.

And this is it! Rustic crusty bread. And you won’t believe how easy it is. Not only is it no-knead, but you don’t need a stand mixer, electric mixer or any kind of mixer to make it. Just a bowl and a spoon. From start to finish, it is ready to bake in about 2-3 hours, and I promise, it is some of the most delicious, crusty, golden brown, perfect bread to ever come out of my oven.

Not only have we used it for paninis, but I’ve sliced it up for garlic bread or just served it plain (think: tear off chunks as you go!) with a wide variety of meals. I like to bake up both loaves of bread the same day and pop one in the freezer for easy access next time we get the hankering for delicious, crusty bread.

Read below for the recipe and for step-by-step photos. I promise, you’ll feel like a bread rockstar after making this loaf!

*If you don’t have a panini press but want to get in on the panini-love, no worries! For years I just used my skillet and weighed down the panini sandwich with another heavy, smaller skillet. Anything that presses the sandwich while it cooks in a hot skillet will work great!

Rustic Crusty Bread

Rustic Crusty Bread {A Simple How-To}

Yield: Makes 2-4 loaves of bread

Rustic Crusty Bread {A Simple How-To}

Note: I often use half finely ground white whole wheat flour with good results. The bread is a bit more dense with the whole wheat flour but still delicious.

Also, look at the last paragraph of the recipe for variations to baking if you don't have a baking stone. Also, check below the recipe for step-by-step pictures.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons instant yeast
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 6 1/2 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting dough (see note)

Directions

  1. In a large bowl mix yeast and salt into 3 cups lukewarm water (about 100 degrees). Stir in flour, mixing until there are no dry patches. Dough will be quite loose. Cover lightly with a kitchen towel but don't seal the bowl airtight. Let the dough rise at room temperature 2 hours (or up to 5 hours).
  2. Bake at this point or refrigerate, covered in an airtight container, for as long as two weeks. When ready to bake, cut off a grapefruit-size piece with serrated knife (I have only ever made two loaves out of the batch of dough so I just divide the dough in half to form my first loaf). Turn the dough in your hands to lightly stretch the surface, creating a rounded top and a lumpy bottom. Put the dough on a piece of parchment paper set on a pizza peel or a rimmed baking sheet turned upside down. Let the dough rest for 40 minutes for room temperature dough; if you have used the dough out of the refrigerator, let it rest for 1 1/2 hours. Repeat with remaining dough or refrigerate it.
  3. Place a broiler pan on the bottom rack of the oven. Place a baking stone on the middle rack and preheat oven to 450 degrees. Heat the stone at that temperature for 20 minutes before baking.
  4. After the dough has rested and is ready to bake, dust the dough lightly with flour, slash the top with serrated or very sharp knife three times. Slide the dough (with the parchment paper) onto the baking stone. Pour one cup of hot water into the broiler pan and shut the oven quickly to trap the steam. Bake the bread until well browned, about 24-28 minutes. Cool completely.
  5. If you don't have a baking stone, try turning a rimmed baking sheet upside down and heating it in the 450 degree oven for 10 minutes prior to baking. When ready to bake, slide the parchment paper with the dough on it directly onto the overturned baking sheet and bake according to the recipe. You can also stretch the rounded dough into an oval and place in a greased loaf pan. Let it rise for 40 minutes if fresh (add an extra hour if the dough has been refrigerated). Bake in the loaf pan in the 450 degree oven, watching the time carefully - check after 20-22 minutes.
http://www.melskitchencafe.com/rustic-crusty-bread-a-simple-how-to/

Recipe Source: adapted from The New York Times via Jeff Hertzberg’s Artisan Bread in Five Minute a Day

*Click HERE for a printable PDF file of the below step-by-step instructions*

Rustic Bread How To

255 Responses to Rustic Crusty Bread {A Simple How-To}

  1. Alicia says:

    You make it look so easy! I’m going to have to try this one… and soon!

  2. Janet says:

    Looks delicious, but there’s a difference in rise times. Your photo instructions give the first rise time as 40 minutes, but the written recipe above says 2-5 hours. I assume 2-5 hours is correct?

  3. Kim in MD says:

    Mel- you are my culinary hero! I have had this bread recipe bookmarked forever, and for some reason just haven’t made it. Your tutorials are the best, and you always make every recipe so doable! I love panini, and this is one perfect loaf of crusty perfect bread. Now that you have tested this recipe I have no excuse not to make it! Thanks! πŸ™‚

  4. Cotton says:

    My last bread making attempt was a dismal failure. I am going to try this today and hopefully it will work out as beautiful as yours. Since I don’t have a baking stone I will try it the way you suggest. Wish me luck!

  5. Gina says:

    You make it look soooo easy!! I’m going to have to try this like tomorrow! πŸ™‚

  6. Judith - Texas says:

    Just got a panini press for my birthday – off to the kitchen to make this bread. Plan on making a Cuban Panini Sandwich tonight for dinner. Thanks for the recipe!!

  7. Mel says:

    Janet – thanks for the heads up! Yes, it is an error in my step-by-step which I will correct…but you let it rest for 2-5 hours for the first rise (in the bowl). Thanks!

  8. LOVE your panini spreadsheet–we are a little obsessed ourselves so I totally get your addiction πŸ™‚

  9. brookeO says:

    I’m not a panini lover, but I am obsessed with baking bread. There is something therapeutic about making a loaf of bread and something even more satisfying about enjoying the flavor and texture of each loaf. I love getting new bread recipes. I’m going to have to try this today!

  10. Heather says:

    Picture only shows one loaf in the oven. Do you bake them at the same time?

  11. Liz K. says:

    This is perfect! I have been needing a good recipe for this kind of bread. We love paninis at our house too. Thanks for all of the new panini ideas! I am going to print out your charts and put them in my cookbook binder.

  12. You make it look easy! I just tried to make bread this weekend and failed miserably! πŸ™

  13. Jenn says:

    YES YES YES!

    I’ve made this several times….. it’s DELICIOUS!

    I want to also strongly urge your readers to NOT EAT THIS straight out of the oven. It does not taste as good. You HAVE to let it cool completely…. it messes with the texture if you don’t.

    The most amazing thing with this bread is you can actually double the recipe and store the dough in the refrigerator after the first rise and pull chunks off of it for up to two weeks and follow directions for the 2nd rise from that. The longer the bread sits, it takes on a sourdough texture/taste. YUMMY!

    I bought the book that this recipe comes from – lots of neato recipes!

  14. Rachel B. says:

    Anyone ever tried it with hard white wheat flour?

  15. NicoleCF says:

    We are totally on the Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day bandwagon–it’s fun to see you messing with it too. I try to keep some dough in my fridge at all times so we can just pull off a hunk and have bread for dinner anytime we want in any shape we want (made baguettes and epi last week!). And paninis, oh, yes. We have the same panini grill and use the heck out of it!

    Rachel, they have a similar recipe in their Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day cookbook that is made with hard white wheat flour but it adds vital wheat gluten and a smaller amount of all-purpose flour.

  16. Meggan says:

    Can you bake both loaves at the same time?

  17. I’ve always wanted to know how to make this kind of bread, and your guide seems very simple and easy to use! Your bread turned out so lovely. Thanks for sharing.

  18. Annalee says:

    The Artisan Bread in 5 minutes a day is one of the best cookbooks I own! There are so many great variations! This past weekend I made the buttermilk base, and made cinnamon “roll” bread for french toast=amazing!!

    One of my favorites, is to add fresh (or dried) thyme and rosemary to the base. It makes the most amazing bread!

  19. Michelle T. says:

    Love panini’s! & I love my Griddler! I was lucky enough to have my chef sister buy me one for my wedding- bless her.
    This recipe looks amazing. Do you think it would work with whole wheat flour?

  20. Mel says:

    Heather – I only bake one loaf at a time. It doesn’t hurt the second loaf to sit and rise for a bit while the first loaf is baking. Of course, if you have a large enough baking stone, you could probably bake them both at the same time.

  21. Mel says:

    Michelle T. – I’ve never used whole wheat flour in it (yet) so I can’t attest to how it would turn out. I think if it were white whole wheat and you also add a bit of gluten flour then it should fare pretty well. I’m hoping to try it in the next few weeks but if anyone gets to it first, let me know how it goes!

  22. Melanie H says:

    Looks amazing and easy. Making it to go with Italian Wedding Soup for dinner tonight. Hope it turns out good! Thanks!

  23. Sara Hansen says:

    This looks so good! I am so excited to make it. I have been looking for a recipe for a crusty bread like this. I hope mine will turn out as nice as yours! Thanks.

  24. A suggestion for any other non-panini press owners out there – – I use my waffle iron or george forman grill. Both work great at making paninis! I have an overnight artisan bread recipe that I like, but I’m curious to try this one.

  25. sweetpea says:

    does using unbleached AP flour as opposed to bleached AP flour really make a difference? (I want to be fair
    to the recipe).

  26. Jone says:

    Could you divide the 3 ingredients in half and just make one loaf?

  27. Michelle says:

    I’ve made this recipe a lot and love it every time. A few months ago, though, my (round pizza) stone cracked in four pieces halfway through the baking time. I researched this on-line and found out that stones can crack in the presence of moisture (which the cup of boiling water would certainly do). So I’ve been making it on a baking sheet since then and it’s been almost just as good (my pizza is definitely not as good though so I need to go buy another stone!) I don’t expect anyone to stop using their stone based just on my experience, but I thought I’d just post it as a general warning. Thanks for the great picture tutorial, Mel!

  28. Diane K says:

    I’m pretty sure I don’t own a broiler pan, so would it be tragic if I just put the water in any old baking dish?

    Also, I’m sure I haven’t mentioned enough how much I love your website – I can try new foods without needing to go out and restock my pantry, and you have great recipes from simple to a little more complex… Anyway, I’m a huge fan.

  29. Kelly B says:

    This looks so amazing. Thank you for kindly sharing. I can’t wait to get started!

  30. Cammee says:

    We are huge panini fans here. I can’t wait to try this bread. Do we have to make it in a bowl and stir it with our own hands like the pioneers, or can we be lazy and use our Bosch?

  31. Mel says:

    Jone – I suppose you could divide in half and make one loaf but it doesn’t take any additional effort to make the full batch and then you have two loaves to enjoy (the baked loaves freeze beautifully).

    Diane K – if you don’t have a broiler pan, another aluminum-type pan would work but don’t use a glass pan! If the pan heats up and you add water that isn’t hot enough, your glass pan will crack so substitute a broiler pan with an aluminum or other metal pan.

    Cammee – I’m sure you could make this in your Bosch but I think it would be a bit of a nightmare because the dough is so much stickier and wetter than regular bread dough that I can see it just getting caught around the middle part of the Bosch. So reach inward and get in touch with your inner pioneer – I don’t want you cursing my name when your Bosch is covered in sticky bread dough (plus the dough is soft enough it really isn’t too difficult to dig out a wooden spoon and just go at it).

  32. Mel says:

    sweetpea – you know, I don’t really know the answer to your question because I only ever buy unbleached flour (I but it in big 20# bags at Sam’s Club). I haven’t used regular bleached flour in years so I don’t have it on hand to test it out in this recipe. My guess is that it won’t make a huge difference. I’d use what you have on hand (bleached or unbleached). I’m pretty sure Jeff Hertzberg (author of Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a day) uses unbleached flour as his standard since it is a bit more widely accepted and saluted in professional baker’s worlds.

  33. Sarah says:

    I’ve made this several times and have used both bleached and unbleached flour without noticing a difference. Honestly, I sometimes forget the water to dump in the broiler pan too (I make this from memory and sometimes with 3 kids under 4…I forget stuff!) and it also turns out fine then, though using the water is better. It’s a really, really forgiving recipe – we love it!

  34. Kathleen McGuirk says:

    Hi, Looks like a great recipe. Do you have to steam? I have a tiny oven that is why I am asking. Thanks.

  35. Valerie says:

    If you can stand the wait and leave some of the dough in the refrigerator it will get somewhat sour with time (5-9 days). I usually make a second batch while the first is raising to have for later in the week.

  36. Jackie Brown says:

    Mel, I make my bread just like this and use 7 cups white whole wheat flour and 3 1/2 cups water. I store in a plastic shoe box with lid and let it rise in the microwave, then I store in the fridge whenever I want to make fresh bread. This same dough makes awesome flatbread in the cast iron with a lid. It will make about 13, you can freeze. You’re tutorial is fantastic and so is your spreadsheet. A-types just love your work. Keep it up!

  37. Jackie Brown says:

    I noticed several were asking about using whole wheat. I like King Arthur white whole wheat and I use vital wheat gluten if I’m going 100%. I don’t add if I’m only going half ap and half white wheat. I also like to add 1/2 cup oil to the recipe when I want a soft sandwich bread. The addition of oil is fantastic for everything like cinnamon rolls, pizza crust, flatbread and buns. I blog about this recipe as well and love how easy Mel made the tutorial!

  38. Natalie says:

    This was so good and so easy! Not scared to make my own bread now!

  39. Jamy says:

    Beautiful pictures! I just love your photography. Mind if I ask what camera you have?

  40. Mel says:

    Kathleen – don’t push the steam if it just won’t work…it will still taste great!

    Jamy – thanks for the compliment! I use a Nikon D90 with the 50mm/1.8 or sometimes the 35mm/1.8 lens.

  41. Marie says:

    HI Mel,
    Can you be a little more specific for me about the yeast you use for this recipe? (brand, dried, active, etc)
    Thanks!

  42. Mel says:

    Marie – the recipe states instant yeast so that’s what I use and I alternate between the SAF and Fleischmann brand. Hope that helps!

  43. amy @ uTryIt says:

    What a perfect looking bread. I tried making it before but not quite successful. The crust and taste of my “failing bread” was okay, but inside didn’t have air pocket as I like them to be. I guess I’ll follow your recipe and give it a try again….and YES, (raising my hand), I love panini! πŸ™‚

  44. Jennie says:

    I’m making this right now – I really hope it comes out as nice as yours! The dough came out really, really sticky, even after the first rise. It’s not forming a nice shape as it’s resting. It kind of looks like a dough puddle. Should I have added more than the 6 1/2 cups of flour at the beginning? Oh well, I’ll see how it comes out in a little while…

    Btw, I love your blog and use your recipes all the time. So yummy! In fact, on Thanksgiving, my husband said your turkey gravy recipe was better than he’s ever had before, so good he wanted to drink it.

  45. Ashley says:

    Jennie I am having the same problem! Mine has been rising for over 2 hours and when I tried to grab a hunk it stuck all over my hands and then kind of shrunk down. Dough Puddle is the perfect description to what I’m looking at. I’m wondering if I needed more flour as well. Is it too late to salvage it?

  46. Mel says:

    Jennie and Ashley – out of curiosity, what elevation do you both live at? I’ve never had to add more than the 6 1/2 cups but if you can’t stretch the dough (like in the pictures) then yes, you may need to add more flour. Just like most yeast doughs, you’ll still want to judge it by texture which is why I wanted to include the step-by-step photos. I don’t think it’s too late to salvage it, Ashley. Try stirring or kneading in another 1/4 to 1/2 cup of flour and letting it rest/rise again. If the dough can’t hold its shape after forming into a loaf then that’s probably a good indication a bit more flour is needed. Good luck, ladies! Let me know how it turns out.

  47. Liz H says:

    I had the same problem with my dough. It was super runny and sticky after the first rise, so I ended up adding nearly one cup more flour and kneading it by hand until it came together. Don’t worry about adding a bit more flour–my loaves baked up beautifully. Thanks for the post, Mel.

  48. Jennie says:

    Update: I stuck with it and baked two beautiful loaves, although they’re not very tall. They’re exceptionally tasty, though! I served it to the in-laws for dinner tonight and got rave reviews. The next time I make this, I’ll try adding more flour to see if that makes the loaves form a little better.

    Elevation is only about 1200 feet, so nothing special.

  49. Melanie Miller says:

    I made this today and it was superb! I found the dough incredibly sticky as well (our elevation is 2500 ft.) But the results were so great I will keep messing with the flour until it works. I have seen this recipe before but I was intimidated by it. Thanks for breaking it down!

  50. Hilary says:

    Really, really delicious!

  51. shaela says:

    Mel-so I made the bread tonight and all went great until the baking part. My loaf looked beautiful. Then I went to transfer the loaf ontop of the parchment paper to the over and as I was setting the parchment on the stone in the oven it went up in flames! I quickly pulled it out and seriously had a flame a foot high. Very scary but I was luckily able to quickly grab some water to dump on it. Are you not suppose to put the parchment paper in the oven? And when you said parchment…that is parchment paper right?

  52. MaryAnn Bench says:

    I told my husband I made the bread and he tasted it and didn’t believe me, he said I thought you meant you “made it at the store” hahaha! Awesome recipe. And I didn’t have a stone or a broiler pan. I just used a regular cookie sheet with the parchment paper and another cookie sheet to act as the broiler in the bottom.

  53. Mel says:

    Shaela – yikes! That is scary! I use regular parchment paper and slide my parchment paper right onto my baking stone. I’ve never had that happen but it sounds like you should definitely scrap that idea and perhaps try just baking it on a baking sheet or if you have a pizza peel of sorts, sliding the bread onto the stone sans parchment paper (using cornmeal to help it not stick). I’m sorry that happened and am so glad you were able to put out the fire! Is there any chance the parchment paper came into contact with the heating element?

  54. Katie says:

    Best. Bread. Ever. I love making bread and have tried many of your recipes but this one is the best yet! I love that it turned out so chewy. Like, sink-your-teeth-in-and-give-a-good-tug chewy. The recipe was so simple and the bread so delicious! Mel, thanks for another recipe I will use over, and over again.

  55. Alycia says:

    Love your panini spreadsheet! We’ll be trying some of your combos very soon! I didn’t see it on your sheet, so I just thought I’d add that one of our favorite spreads is pesto!

  56. Ashley says:

    Hey Mel I just thought I would follow up after my previous comment. My elevation is 626 feet. I ended up needing to add over a cup of flour until I got the right consistency. It still wasn’t as tall or as dark brown as your loaf but it was very delicious with your broccoli cheese soup. I will definitely make this again and I’ll just add more flour next time!

  57. Amy says:

    This is the easiest yeast bread I have ever made!!! It should be filed under quick breads. It’s crusty deliciousness made everyone in my house happy. It was great dipped in the Smoked Salmon Chowder. A yummy thank you!!

  58. heather m. says:

    Ok, I made this bread and didn’t read any of the comments on here (big mistake!) and cut into one loaf straight from the oven and we ate it with our dinner that night. Yeah, it was ok, but the texture was off. So I let the second loaf cool completely on a rack, then tossed it onto a ziploc and sliced it up the next day and used it to make a panini sandwich. Wow! You’re not kidding. Best. Panini Bread. EVER! I use my panini grill almost daily and this bread is simply perfect, and I love, love, love that I can make it myself. Awesome! I love the simplicity of the recipe, I love how delicious this bread is, and I love that I can whip up the dough and ram it in the fridge to use it at my convenience over the next few days. Heaven! Thank you a million times over for sharing this gem!

  59. Jana says:

    Mel-
    I made this yesterday and it turned out fabulous! Crusty and chewy on the outside, soft on the inside. Thanks for another GREAT recipe!

  60. Lisa sharp says:

    hi mel! i am just about to attempt this recipe. looks so good! i am just worried about the yeast. i have never used yeast before and i am not sure if i have the right thing. i bought the SAF Perfect Rise Yeast. It says fast rising active dry yeast, but doesn’t say instant yeast. Is this the same thing? thanks so much!

  61. Lillie says:

    I was wondering if you live in a dry climate. My attempts at some of your bread recipes seem to need quite a bit more flour for the dough to look like yours. And then the finished result seems a little dense. It’s pretty humid where I live, so I thought that might be it. Or maybe the winter weather means my kitchen is cold so things need longer to rise. I am definitely not a bread expert, but I’m trying!

  62. Lisa sharp says:

    I ended up trying it with the fast acting yeast and it was amazing! We ate half of the loaf for dinner and I froze the other half to enjoy later this week so it stays nice and fresh. And the other half of dough is in the fridge, and i will probably split that into 2 batches instead of one, so that we have 2 smaller loaves. Thank you so much for sharing this recipe and all of the tips. You have made a bread-makin’ believer out of me!

  63. Mel says:

    Lisa – as far as I know, fast rise or rapid rise yeast is the same as instant yeast – which sounds like it worked after reading your last comment! Thanks for checking back in to let me know.

    Lillie – I do not live in a dry climate. I live in the humid midwest (Wisconsin) so it sounds like we live in similar climates. It sounds like you are doing great – my recommendation for dense bread is to let the dough rise longer (which you are right, can take longe rin the cooler winter months) and take care not to add too much flour. Good luck!

  64. […] bit (ok, it was a while) and I found lots of inspiration and ideas; mainly from alexandracooks and melskitchencafe. This recipe is thanks to all of you ladies! God bless you in your cooking efforts and thanks for […]

  65. Lisa Hansen says:

    Made this bread today and I’m loving it!!! Super easy!! I only used 6 cups of white flour and it was perfect (I live in Idaho; I don’t know if that is what makes a difference) the extra 1/2 c would have made it too dry. I also only cooked it for 20 minutes and it was perfect! I will definitely be making it again and again! As, always, I love your recipes! I can’t wait to experiment with 1/2 wheat flour! I’ll let you know!

  66. Lillie says:

    Made this last night. It took all my will power not eat that and nothing else for dinner!

  67. Debbie says:

    Just made this yesterday and ate paninis with it. Fabulous, fabulous instructions! I would have added more flour, but your pictures and instructions reassured me and it turned out perfectly! I live in Germany and they charge a few euros or this simple type of bread! Now I know how to make it and can take it back to the US with me!! Thank you!

  68. Danielle says:

    I made this into the 2 loaves for a group of hungry kids in our babysitting swap (always a good way to try recipes out right?) and it was a hit. Both loaves were gone really quickly. I used bread flour (just what I had more of)- which has the higher gluten – and it was delish. WARNING I also should have used a metal broiler pan…since I heated a GLASS pan up under my pizza stone. The hot glass pan cracked when I added the cool water. The steam still had it’s effect, the crust was thick and chewy and very golden brown. The second loaf (no steam) was lighter in color. It still tasted great, but I loved the steams outcome. I knew not to add water to a hot pan…ah well. The lengths we go to get our artisan bread. πŸ™‚

  69. Lucy says:

    I made this tonight with about half white whole wheat, half all-purpose flour. We loved it! I did not add any vital wheat gluten. This went great with your Tomato Basil Bisque we had tonight. Thank you!!

  70. Terri says:

    Made these for dinner tonight…we boys loved them…both were gone in under 30 minutes!! And sooo easy!! This is now my go to recipe for home made bread!

    Mel, can I double the recipe next time and just split it four ways? Or is it better to make two separate recipes?

  71. Mel says:

    Terri – yes, you can double the recipe and split it four ways.

  72. Madonna says:

    I have two of Jeff and Zoe’s books. I starting making this bread several years ago when I developed a sensitivity to soy lecithin. (They put that stuff in everything.) My two cents would be – Don’t give up even if you don’t have perfect results keep at it. I have even baked it in an iron skillet. I have started using a scale and this helped me with consistency. And your warning about not cutting the bread too soon is so correct. The remaining loaf will be gummy. It is like cutting into meat without letting it rest – the first bite is good, but the rest will be bad.

    I love your storyboard tutorial. Great photos.

  73. Jenn says:

    using unbleached flour DOES make a difference versus bleached flour.

    We found the unbleached flour holds up better and gives a better texture of the bread. We especially like King Arthur’s flour (and yes, the brand makes a difference two).

  74. Melanie Miller says:

    Hi Mel,
    I wanted to let you know I tried this recipe again today. This time, instead of increasing the flour, I made sure my hands were wet when I shaped the loaves (I read this somewhere). This made handling the dough so much easier! Now I have a loaf cooling for supper and it’s all I can do not to eat the whole thing myself! Yumm-o!

  75. […] worth the effort. In the past, I have shared several favorites here and here. I’m also a fan of this Rustic Bread Recipe. If you’re just starting out, I encourage you to try any of these, as they […]

  76. […] Rustic Crusty Bread by Mel’s Kitchen Cafe. Who doesn’t love the scent of fresh-baked bread? I’ll admit, I’m a bread lover but not a big bread eater. I like the idea of it, but I just don’t find that I chow down on bread often. Now, on the other hand, if I make myself a homemade loaf, it’s a whole different story. I will eat it up so quick, slathered in butter. This recipe looks so quick and simple, I will definitely have to try it. […]

  77. Michelle Barber says:

    Could this bread be any easier? I honestly feel guilty when I serve it and get rave reviews. But I get over the guilt quickly. Thanks for making it even easier with your awesome step-by-step action.

    And when is that baby coming? Or did I miss it and she’s here already? Either way congrats you inspirational momma!

  78. […] Rustic Bread @Mel’s Kitchen CafΓ©- I love making bread so naturally I can’t help but try every recipe I […]

  79. Rebecca says:

    Mel..this bread is fantastic!! So easy to make. We live around the GB/Appleton area, so as I am sure you already know, good bakery bread is hard to come by. This rivals some of the best artisan breads I have found. Thanks for posting.

  80. Jena says:

    I made this bread yesterday and it came out great! It was my first time ever making bread! Thank you for the great recipe!!!

  81. kim says:

    Mel, this was so easy to make and was, hands down, the best bread I have ever made. Thank you for sharing this with us.

  82. kasia says:

    Any tips on the storage of this bread? i made it and it turned out great i use it to make open face sandwiches in the morning and my kids love it, but when i cowered it with tin foil the next day the crust got soggy. Any suggestions?

  83. Mel says:

    Kasia – I always store the cooled leftovers in a ziploc bag. When I want a crisp crust again, I reheat the bread (uncovered) in the oven at 250 degrees for 5-10 minutes. That might help the soggy crust issue!

  84. Cat says:

    Thanks so much for this recipe and photos! I made it today and it is really good. I followed the instructions exactly and it looked just like the photos. It is delicious, but I’m curious, is there a way to make it even more crusty? Mine had good crackle with each bite but not the thick crusty crunch I’ve been searching for. I cooked it 26 min and I couldn’t tell how crusty it would be until it cooled. Should I cook a little longer? Should I use a little more water than the 1 cup? It’s great as is and I will be making it again even if I can’t get a thicker crust. Thanks!

  85. Mel says:

    Hi Cat – I think you could cook it longer and it would develop a thicker, more crackly crust. I think the original recipe baked it for over 30 minutes but when I tried it, it was too dark for my taste; however, it’s worth a try if you want more of a crust.

  86. Julie says:

    Love this recipe but have had some trouble! I am sure it’s my error. I have somehow been messing it up. The first time I made it, I added all the flour at one time. Is that bad? Should I stir it as I add it? It was so dry I had extra flour in the bottom of my bowl. I threw it out and started over. The second time I stirred it as I added the flour with perfect results. I tried again tonight and it had the dry issue again. I added the flour all at one time again because in my mind that shouldn’t matter. Does it? Maybe I am mis counting my cups of flour. Just wondering if you had any advice. I noticed no one else has had this issue, so I figured it was operator error. Thanks.

  87. Mel says:

    Julie – I’m not exactly sure if adding the flour all at once will make a difference but since it worked out when you added it gradually, I’d suggest doing that from now on. When I make it, I add it gradually just because it is easier to stir in. Also one thing to consider is to measure the flour lightly…I use the scoop and sweep method trying not to pack it in the cup. Good luck!

  88. Ariana Garcia says:

    This recipe is absolutely delicious! What I like to do is cover the dough with a little bit of olive oil and let it sit for a bit. Bake it in that oil and it tastes great!

  89. Debbie says:

    Thank you Mel for your wonderful blog. I have enjoyed many of you recipes in only the few weeks since I discovered it. I have been nursing my 87-year old mother and have been making this recipe as my therapy. I divided the recipe into 4 mini loaves and pass them out as thank-you’s for anyone who shows us kindness. Do you think I can freeze the unbaked loaves? It also seems that I have to consistently add an extra 1/2 cup of water. I don’t know if that is a humidity factor (we live at the beach in NC) or a reflection of how I am measuring the flour. Thanks again!

  90. […] wanted try a new bread recipe. Β It was a recipe for rustic, crusty bread. Β It was suggested to use when making paninis, which is what we were going to have for lunch on […]

  91. Mel says:

    Debbie – bless you for the care you are giving to your mother! Yes, I think you could freeze the unbaked loaves but because the dough is so tender and soft, it might be easier to freeze the baked loaves. Then you could pull them out and warm them in a 250 degree oven until they are warm and soft again. I’m guessing the extra water is due to humidity and other climate factors.

  92. Anna says:

    I’ve used this recipe a few times and it’s my absolute favorite! I’ve also done it in a dutch oven, which makes it extra crispy – it’s in there for about 25 minutes with the lid on and then another 12-15 with it off. The last time I made this bread, I mixed in half a cup of chopped kalamata olives – so delicious. Thanks Mel!

  93. Maria says:

    I love the Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day recipe- I also love how you dusted with flour and sliced the top of the loaves to give them an extra special look. Nice photos, too!

    A comment regarding those who are having their loaves turn out flat (or the dough puddle)- I’ve had this problem in the past, and it always seems to be a result of letting the loaf rest for too long after shaping. This seems to happen especially when it is very warm out. You can slice the loaves on an angle to get taller slices when this happens.

    Also, regarding the dough that is too dry- I’ve also experienced that, and it always happens when I’m distracted while counting, so I assume I mis-count cups of flour. I just add a little water and mix it in.

    I dump everything into my bowl before mixing and I’ve never had any problems with this method.

    I’ve never used the pan of water underneath, so I shall have to give that a try next time I make it.

    Thanks for the great panini tips!

  94. mary says:

    the crusty bread recipe sounds great just got married am going to try my mom said to use kosher salt can I thank you

  95. Carla Valli says:

    I’ve never tried to make bread without a machine before. At least not that I recall. This is so simple, yet so delicious!!! Made mine into 3 loaves to eat with home made potato soup. Everyone raved. Making more today.

  96. Beth says:

    Hi Mel! This bread looks fab and from all the comments, it must taste just as good as it looks. Do you think I can sub bread flour for AP flour? Can’t wait to make it. Thanks for all the photos they are very helpful.

  97. Mel says:

    Beth – I haven’t used bread flour but I’m sure you can. Bread flour has more gluten so that may affect the consistency of the dough a bit but I think it should still work fine.

  98. Beth says:

    This bread is fabulous!!! My husband was so impressed-he thought it looked like it came from the bakery. I can’t believe it is so easy but tastes like you worked on it all day! We have eaten it everyday since I made it last week. I am getting ready to make it again. Oh, and I made a panini with it yesterday for lunch-the best bread I’ve ever used for a panini. Thank you so much.

  99. […] similar recipe that I’ve also used *A LOT* is from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe: Rustic Crusty Bread. Even the name of it makes me wanna grab this bread, a hunk of cheese, a bottle of wine, and a […]

  100. Laura says:

    Mel, great recipe! I have been making all the bread we consume for my family for probably around 30 years, and I love this quick way to have homemade bread!

    I do use bread flour, and kosher salt, just to answer the question a couple of people had.

    I have also found that adding a tablespoon of medium rye flour to the flour mixture adds a touch of the french bread taste.

    I also vary the ingredients so that it “looks right”. Sometimes I use more flour or more water or less of these, just depending on how it looks. The reason this varies is that the temperature and humidity in the kitchen at the time of making the bread will affect the requirements of the recipe.

  101. Sarah says:

    I made this today and it was delicious! Thank you so much for sharing.

  102. Judy Lipofsky says:

    I tried making the bread first time today. After 2 hours it had almost reached the top of the bowl, but I wasn’t ready to bake yet, so went away for 2 more hours. When I got home it had shrunk back to about half the height of the bowl and was like soup. I added about 1 1/2 cups more flour and still no way could I shape it. So I spooned it into a buttered pie pan and baked it. It was delicious but flat. Where did I go wrong? The temp in the house was about 75 degrees and we are at sea level (Florida)

    • Mel says:

      Hi Judy – bread can be a fickle thing. If left to rise for too long, it will do exactly as you described and collapse. With this particular bread recipe, where the dough isn’t as stiff as other yeast bread doughs, I can see how it could get kind of soupy upon collapse. Just like the other advice, if you think you’ll be gone during the prime rising time, refrigerate the dough to slow down the rising.

  103. Laura says:

    To Judy Lipofsky:

    I am not sure what technically happens, but I do know that there is a window of time where the bread is ready to be baked and if you overshoot that, the yeast dies or something, and it will do exactly what your bread did.

    If you want to make the dough and then bake it more than a couple of hours later, then you must refrigerate it. It’s the temperature that determines the speed the yeast develops its gas and lives it’s lifetime.

    I have made this dough, baked one loaf and refrigerated (in a bowl with plastic wrap on top) the remaining dough and baked another loaf the next day (after letting the dough come to room temperature).

    Successfully baking bread is based on time and temperature as you are using a living organism (the yeast) to produce the “lift” in the dough that gives you fluffy and tasty (also dependent on the yeast) bread.

    Hope this helps and you will have a better experience next time!

  104. Kim says:

    Hi Mel,
    Just found your site, immediately made the bread and it was absolutely perfect! I was a little worried when it was so sticky but it came out amazing. Thank you for the great recipe, I baked the entire thing and am going to dry some of it out to make stuffing!

  105. Andrea says:

    Hi Mel,
    I’m making these into rolls for our pulled pork sandwiches tonight and am excited to see how they turn out. The reason for my post, though, is to tell you how much I enjoy your blog. I’ve been reading it faithfully for 3.5 years. Yours is my favorite blog — for your sweet personality, great writing, down-to-earth style, and self-deprecating sense of humor. I’ve tried so many recipes, and several have become family favorites (angel food cake with chocolate whipped cream, sweet and sour meatballs, cornbread, and oven-baked chimichangas). Thanks so much for your efforts. You rock! Have a Happy New Year.

  106. Tiffiny says:

    Hi Mel,

    This bread is absolutely, unbelievably amazing. So good that I made it three times this holiday season. I just couldn’t believe that only four ingredients could produce such magic. Everyone loved it! We even joked that I should open a bakery, selling only this bread and we’d be rich, haha.
    The first two times I made this, my loaves were much much flatter than yours. I think a few other have commented on this. The flavor and texture were still amazing, btw! The third time I used more flour until I felt that I had a dough that would hold together better, while still leaving the sticky residue on my fingers. Bingo! That was the key. Now I know how to make those perfect looking loaves like you have in the photo. Thanks for another great recipe!

  107. A Content CREATOR says:

    I don’t get it. You copied the NY Times recipe almost word-for-word. That’s not plagiarism? If you were an HONEST content creator, you would have simply linked to the recipe instead of copying it. Shame on you.

    • Mel says:

      A Content CREATOR – there is a full link crediting Jeff Hertzberg and the NY Times for their recipe so please don’t accuse me of something I haven’t done. I wish you the best at creating the best content you can! I’ll do the same.

  108. Valerie says:

    You are my hero! I’ve been making recipes from this site like crazy ever since I discovered it recently and they’ve all been such a hit with my family! I made this bread the other night and it was AMAZING. I froze half the dough though instead of baking them both (I was all baked out)…how do I handle the frozen dough to bake it now?

    • Mel says:

      Hi Valerie – I would let the dough come to room temperature (either in the refrigerator or on the counter, the counter method will take less time, obviously) and then shape it into a loaf and let it rest/rise according the recipe and bake it. It’s pretty simple, really, you just need to defrost the dough and you’ll be good to go! Glad you are enjoying the recipes, thank you!

  109. Sarah says:

    I also had my dough rise beautifully after 2 hours then shrink and turn runny by the time I was ready to cook it 3 hours later. In the future, I will let it rise for 2 hours, no more!

  110. […] once a week.  True story.  (Featured below: a loaf of rustic, crusty bread.  You can find a recipe here.) I think in the long run I’m looking for a more neutral colored box but until I find one we’ll […]

  111. Faith says:

    This is fantastic! I make this every time I cook pasta! Has any one tried making this in a whole wheat version?

  112. […] recipe I’ve been using is from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe. It’s turns out perfect every time. One thing I do that she doesn’t mention in her […]

  113. LonnieQ says:

    I think that the problems some of you are hav ing is because the recipe tells you to add the salt to the yeast then add water. Everyone I know that makes bread is aware that adding salt directly to the yeast will kill at least half of the yeast. It’s best to mix your salt into the flour therefore encorporating the salt gently to the yeast and you’ll have a much happier bread experience.

  114. Tom Schoeneweis says:

    This is awesome!! I have made three batches in the last two days. I am a single dad with two teenage boys with me all the time. They love fresh made bread … I love the no-knead ease of the whole process. It is so easy to integrate into all of the other things I am doing. I will be making some dough batches to rise on my lunch this week so I can bake them when I get home from the office. I need to train my boys to prep the loaves a little before I get home. I haven’t had a chance to read all of the comments, so I apologize in advance if I am repeating at all, but the bread comes out so much nicer if you let the dough rise for 5 hours. Also … I am looking forward to picking up some green onions (I have several bricks of Asiago in the fridge) to make my favorite bread that is produced at the local grocery chain in Salt Lake that bakes artisan bread. I definitely will enjoy not paying $5.00 a loaf!!! Thanks so much for sharing this wonderful and easy recipe.

  115. Nadia says:

    Yumm!! Loved it! Never buying bread from the store again!

  116. Zannie says:

    This is in the oven as I type! I’m very excited about this bread and I hope mine comes out as lovely as yours looks. I think my dough was a lot on the sticky side… but hopefully it still comes out good! Thanks for the great recipe!

  117. Darcy says:

    I’ve been trying for years to find a good and easy bread recipe. I usually stick with bread machine dough, but with my bread maker stuck in California, I had an excuse to try something new. Thank you for this wonderful recipe. I’m making bread twice a week now, and not buying any at the store!

  118. […] posted about this Rustic Crusty Bread yesterday in my Beef Stew post. Β I raved about how it was the most delicious bread ever! Β And it […]

  119. Zannie says:

    Just a follow up to my previous post… The bread came out GREAT and is by far the best bread I’ve ever made! Thank you!

  120. […] received this bread recipe from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe. Β  She provides a great step by step pictoral of how to make this […]

  121. Katie says:

    This bread is incredible. I was a little wary that it would turn out the way I wanted it to (or the way yours did Mel), but with all the great reviews, I knew I had to try. I was not let down one bit. In fact, it surpassed all my expectations. I thought I had added too much flour and messed it all up, but my loaves baked up beautifully. I have a feeling this is a recipe that would be hard to mess up! I am going to make this all-the-time!

  122. Kerry says:

    I have tried this recipe twice, and each time I have found that the dough is too dry to incorporate all of the flour. I am wondering if I am not mixing long enough or is it ok to add more water? Thanks!

    • Mel says:

      Kerry – I would decrease the amount of flour if you are having trouble incorporating it. Try using 1/2 cup less and see how that goes.

  123. Jamie says:

    HOLY CRAP MEL THIS BREAD IS AMAZING. I just made it today and it looks like I can stop buying all those loaves of crusty delicious bread from the supermarket because I can have them fresh out of the oven. Thanks for the awesome tutorial πŸ™‚ great instructions

  124. Frankie says:

    This is quite possibly the best bread I’ve ever made.

  125. Debe says:

    I just finished baking this bread and it was very easy! I do wonder why a whole tablespoon of salt and 1-1/2 tablespoons of yeast is required. It does taste a bit salty for me. Just checking to make sure that you meant tablespoon and not teaspoon.
    I have pictures and would like to know how to post those on here.

  126. Debe says:

    OK . . . figured it out! I used table salt instead of kosher salt. I referenced Jeff Hertzberg’s recipe. Will try again tomorrow to make it with the right salt πŸ™‚

    • Smithanne says:

      Thank you for sharing thus update, Deb. I am about to make thus bread and I wondered about the tablespoon of salt too, and I was prepared to yes table salt. Now I can skip that disappointment!

  127. Marty w. says:

    I made this two days in a row and today a double batch. This is what I have been looking for… Crisp crust and great air holes. Looks beautiful and tastes even better. A couple of changes was to bump the temp to 500 and cook about 20 minutes. Also I added a tablespoon of sugar… Not sure why up I always add a bit of sugar to bread. Didn’t taste sweet but I thinks adds color to the crust. Great site!!!

  128. Jim Croce says:

    I tried this recipe the other day and I made some observations.

    1) Followed recipe exactly. Did the first rise for 2 hours (2:40 with the proofing once it was risen) and baked a loaf. It was delicious.
    2) The second half of this recipe, I let go for the full 5 hours. I baked this one off as well.

    The full 5 hours resulted in a MUCH nicer bread. Shape, color, texture… taste. It was just superior to the 2 hour rise in all aspects.

    My advice to anyone with the time to do this is to let this do its thing for the full 5 hours. You will love this great recipe even more.

    One more thing:
    I needed a bit more flour than the recipe called for (here in Boston), probably another 3/4 cup. I did not read every comment here, but it seems as though a couple of others had to add a little extra to get the same look in the pictures for once it is done being mixed together.

    Other than that, thank you very much for this recipe. I’ve been looking into baking bread for a long time now and this recipe has really shown me that I will enjoy it.

  129. Breonna says:

    This is my first attempt at making bread and I loved hoe easy the directions are! But I did run into a problem. My dough was still pretty sticky after I let it rise for 3hrs so forming the loaves was very difficult. What did I miss?

    • Mel says:

      Breonna – this dough stays pretty sticky (that’s what helps give the artisan-like airiness in the crumb). If it was too sticky to handle, even with greased hands (I spray my hands with cooking spray), try adding a touch more flour next time.

  130. I made this bread to eat with our spaghetti dinner tonight and it was delicious and very simple to make. I may forgo the water in the pan in the oven though, because I really like my crust hard. It was delicious though. Thank you for a great and very simple bread recipe. I could make this bread every day.

    ~FringeGirl

  131. Amber says:

    I just found this recipe, and I’ve gotta say that I am now addicted to your blog and super excited about how easy this looks! My 5 month old went down for a nap, and I remembered that I had a new jar of yeast, so I decided to give it a shot. The dough is currently rising for its first time and the baby is STILL napping. Can’t wait to bake it and TASTE it. The one thing I was determined to do when I decided to be a stay-at-home-mom was to learn to bake bread. This was a great first recipe to try, it makes it seem far less intimidating! Thank you for your great tutorial!

  132. Olivia says:

    Thank you for the recipe, but it just didn’t work out for me. First, I noticed there mixture was way too moist after letting it rise, so I added about 2 cups more flour. I think this is what screw the recipe up for me. I let the bread bake for 30 minutes and pulled it out because it wasn’t even close to being golden brown. I didn’t want to over cook the bread waiting on it to get brown. The inside was done. I’ll have to try this again with 8 1/2 cups of flour right off the bat and see how it goes. I wonder if adding more flour after it has risen just doesn’t work well.

  133. Jim Croce says:

    Olivia:

    I have made this three times now. The last time, I failed to put the water into the oven with the bread. The color just was not good at all when skipping that step. This time, I used bread flour and did everything else exactly. However, I only used 6 cups of flour (King Arthur Unbleached Bread Flour) as the dough was perfect, according to the images on this site.

    You, in my opinion, simply added too much flour. This dough is not meant to be the typical dough you think of. It is very sticky and loose, more than most bread doughs I have encountered. So just stick with the 6 to 6 1/2 cups. Depending on your humidity, anyway.

    This is really great bread and it bakes to perfection for 27 minutes in my oven.

  134. Rita says:

    The best and easiest recipe for bread making ever!!

  135. Maddie Lynn says:

    I was looking for a recipe for a crusty bread, saw this one, and made it on the spot. I followed the recipe, except for the stone. I subbed a sheet pan turned upside down, and it worked great! This bread is crusty, with a yummy soft chewy center. Plus, as a widow on a fixed income who still has a couple kids at home, I really appreciate that it only needs a few ingredients. Hat’s off to you, Mel! This recipe is a WINNER!

  136. Kevin says:

    Paper can reach spontaneously combustion at around 480 degrees. If your folks have corners of paper hanging over the stone in a gas oven you could easily reach that point during the heating cycle. The steam bath should mitigate this risk a bit but not eliminate it. I always trim the corners so that they do not hang off the stone and all should be good. PS… Fahrenheit 451 is a book that is based upon the temperature which book pages burn…

  137. Julie says:

    I made 2 loaves of this bread this weekend. One for Sunday dinner and the other for paninis tonight. It was simplistic and absolutely delicious. Everyone raved about it. Thanks for the great recipe Mel!!!

  138. Celena V says:

    OMG! This was sooo easy to make and came out perfect! Tasted great!!!! Next time I make it (prob this upcoming week!!!) I’m going to add roasted garlic… nom nom nom!!! Thank you for sharing and I am truly thankful I came across your website!!! It’s awesome!!

  139. Pete Gilham says:

    Hi – why does mine always flop??? Have tried this and a similar recipe 3 times now and initially in thhe bowl I get a good rise very quickly then it all settles back into a very gloopy mix and it is impossible to shape into a ball type shape – more like a flat shape and it doesn’t rise again after that – it tastes “ok” but is only about 2 inches high – so looks more like a disc… Any ideas? I’m about ready to accept I will never be able to bake bread which I want to as I want my kids to eat home cooked bread

    Pete (I live in Hong Kong and at moment the temp in kitchen is about 27C (I guess that’s about 80F – is it too warm?)

  140. Marci says:

    I want to make kid size bread soup bowls with this. I was thinking to make 8 out of the recipe. Any idea how long I would cook them or know when they were done? Love this bread, by the way. I’ve made it several times. Have you experimented with using wheat flour?

    • Mel says:

      Hi Marci – I’ve used half white wheat flour with this bread dough before and it was slightly more dense but still yummy. I would probably bake the little bread bowls for 15-20 minutes. Good luck!

  141. Roxanne says:

    I made this bread last night as my first foray into bread making. The entire time it was rising, I was convincing myself that I messed it up. Then when it was baking I was preparing myself for disappointment. Oh man, did I get the opposite! The bread came out perfectly and was delicious!! I took a loaf over to my boyfriend’s house for a dinner party and it was gone in minutes. Thank you for the awesome tutorial and for helping me feel like a pro in the kitchen!

  142. Joan says:

    I recently made this with white whole wheat flour and it came out decent, but didn’t rise very well in the oven. It rose well initially but not in the oven, so I found it was dense. It’s my first time with bread making and I was wondering if it’s because I followed this recipe with active dry yeast over instant? Is there a difference? Or does something else cause it not to fluff up in the oven?

  143. Joan says:

    Thanks for the reply! I think I may have over-floured it a tad as well. Better luck next time I suppose, thanks again!

  144. Emily Clack says:

    This recipe was so super easy, and I felt awesome pulling this gorgeous bread out of the oven like a pro. Thanks so much for your detailed instructions, it was hard to mess it up when you see what it is supposed to look like! I’m also really impressed with your Thanksgiving spreadsheet, thanks again for sharing!

  145. Terra says:

    Reading all these comments of successful bread making, I’m kind of bummed. I’ve never had a problem with my bread turning out, so I thought this recipe would be great. My bread just came out of the oven and it’s…egh. Didn’t really rise like usual; it’s very small and I guess I’ll have to try this again to see what went wrong.
    The part I’m most upset about is I opened the oven and found my baking stone is cracked in three pieces. I just went to the website for my stone and it said: do not preheat the stone, it is safe up to 450 degrees (I guess not this time), and to prevent extreme temperature changes (would the steam do this?). I am only writing as a precaution to others -make sure your stone is actually able to withstand these requirements!
    I hope to have better luck next time!

  146. Terra says:

    By the way – I’m really glad to have found your blog! It’s very easy to follow your tutorials & find information. And reading above…I now realize the rising problem was I used active dry yeast…not instant. Now I just need a new stone & can try again! πŸ™‚

  147. John Paul Appleyard Green says:

    I had been looking and looking for a recipe to make a crusty “French” bread with some nooks and crannies inside and this works perfectly! Thank you so much for this recipe.

  148. Allyson says:

    Hi Mel!

    I absolutely LOVE your blog. My wonderful mother turned me on to your website. She taught me everything I know about cooking (and I still have so much to learn). I am currently a college graduate student, and love to cook when I have the right resources (and time). I made my second ever loaf of bread when I tried your French Bread recipe, and it turned out wonderful!

    I did have one question for this recipe. I think I understand the difference between active dry and instant yeast. Is there a reason you add the instant yeast to water first? I thought instant yeast didn’t have to proof? I read your tutorial on yeast, but I think I’m still a little confused. Thank you so much for your wonderful recipes! You are such a joy to read and to cook with πŸ™‚
    ~Allyson

    • Mel says:

      Hi Allyson – good question! Instant yeast doesn’t have to proof (like you said) but it doesn’t hurt it to be added to the water and in this recipe, it’s just a matter of how the ingredients are mixed not necessarily to let the yeast proof. Does that make sense?

  149. Amanda says:

    This was my first successful attempt at baking bread. I just made this recipe last night, after another bread recipe failed me. It was SO. GOOD. It made 2 large loaves, which I baked in a bread cloche. It took about 30 minutes per loaf. What a keeper of a recipe! Thank you!

  150. Patricia says:

    Is the dough supposed to still be sticky after the first rise? I live in Illinois and it’s -17 degrees today – not humid at all :).

    • Mel says:

      Patricia – this dough is slightly stickier than other bread doughs I’ve used but it shouldn’t be so sticky that the loaf doesn’t hold it’s shape. Were you able to work with it ok and shape it into a loaf? I’ve found greasing my fingers and hands helps to shape the dough.

  151. Tom says:

    Mel, This is amazing – I’ve never made yeast breads and this came out beautiful!!! I made a vegetable beef soup today and my wife loves crusty bread with soup. This is perfect for the occasion – I’m no longer afraid of making bread.

  152. ali shoup says:

    made this bread this afternoon and it was absolutely wonderful! I didn’t have parchment paper so let the dough rise on floured wax paper then to bake it I put some flour down on aluminum and then placed that on top of the pizza stone! It was delicious!!!

  153. Allyson says:

    Thank you for your response Mel! Yes that definitely makes sense. I made the bread last week for the holidays and it turned out great. Can’t wait to try your other recipes!

  154. River says:

    Thank you for sharing this recipe and for the super useful step-by-step pictures, Mel! I have already made this bread way too many times. Actually, I blogged about it today and when my husband saw me uploading the pictures he asked me to make it again – so the dough it’s rising as we speak! πŸ™‚

  155. Dan Lent says:

    Awesome recipe, after the initial mix and rise time I did add a little more flour and knead the dough for maybe 30 seconds, otherwise the dough wasn’t formable and too sticky. Other than that this recipe worked great , soooo easy and delicious!

  156. Susanne says:

    Amazingly good. I used beached AP flour and it was fine. Also brushed it after the 2nd rise with egg white to get a nice golden glossy finish. Yum! No more more store bought bread for me either. Thanks for a non-scary experience.

  157. Kayte says:

    This recipe is so well written and the picture tutorial at the end is brilliant. I’ve made this bread several times with great success.

  158. Pamela says:

    lf there is such a thing as a baking yeast bread phobia I have it. I’ve been baking up a storm since I was a child but avoided yeast breads at all costs. No idea why but lets just say me and yeast bread were never to cross paths. I did get brave and venture into the yeast breadsticks with great success but had no urge to go further. That is until Dh looked at me and said he really wanted some homemade bread. I said do you want breadsticks or biscuits? Oh no he wanted homemade yeast bread, breadsticks just wouldn’t do.
    So today I sucked up my fear and began this recipe. Sure I was doing something disastrously wrong every step of the way. Thanks to your photos I could see mine looked just like yours but I knew there was no way this was going to end well. All went well until I added the water for steam. My oven is a regular and a convection, the fan brings in heat no matter which method you use so of course when I added the water the fan blew it right out the door in one poof.
    I closed the oven door and hoped for the best. My bread (cooked both loaves at once side by side on the overturned baking sheet) never did get a deep golden brown but after it went 10 minutes beyond the recipe time I could see it was definitely done. I pulled it out and patiently (ok not so patiently) waited for it to cool. Then the moment of truth. I cut through a nice hardy crust and saw a soft perfect bread in the middle. SUCCESS!! But how did it taste? Well DH took some to work and the kids loved it so much they asked if they could have it for their snack.
    A bread the kids are willing to trade their sweets for? I do believe that is a winner. It’s such a thick hearty bread I figured it needed something to sop up so I served it for dinner with your spaghetti sauce that we love.
    Happy to say my phobia is gone and I am going to venture into your other yeast breads soon. Thank you for such a great tutorial.

  159. Old Man Bob says:

    Ok here goes 66 year young guy that has been making bread since I was 12. Been looking for a bread that has a crunchy crust. My normal dough has two extra ingredients from this one more sugar for one and lard, crisco or other oil product. Not to brag but I get good results and reviews from my bread and sticky buns, BUT i cannot get a crunchy crust. Have used water in pan, spray bottle, combos of both, until I finally just threw up my hands and quit trying. Even this recipe has not given me the crunch I am looking for. You know the one where you can hollow it out and use it for a bowel. Love the taste and will continue to use the recipe but sure would like to know where I have been going wrong for 40 some years

  160. Fran says:

    I made this today and used my bread machine to mix a half recipe. I took out have it was mixed and kneaded and proceeded from there. It came out great. We both loved it and now I don’t have to spend $4 on a loaf of crusty bread at the store. This time around I used King Arthur Bread Flour. Next time I might try the all purpose flour and compare.

  161. old man bob says:

    thanks for the link mel.
    took awhile for me to try it. fell and broke my wrist in cast so please excuse typing.
    tried the no knead today.works real well in my dutch oven. a little tweaking on my part and it will be great.
    thanks again and keep them coming

  162. Jordan says:

    Fan-frikkin-tastic! It was delicious. Does the dough really keep for two weeks in the fridge? That’s great if it does.

    • Mel says:

      Jordan – The original recipe says it can stay in the fridge that long although I’ve never personally tried it. The yeast flavor will definitely be more pronounced but it sounds like a lot of people have kept it in the fridge with no problems.

  163. Hi Mel,

    Thanks for posting a fabulous bread recipe! I noticed some were asking you about whole wheat flour, and I’m here to say that I’ve used some. I made these loaves today, and I used 4 cups of white all purpose, and 2 1/2 cups of whole wheat bread flour. It turned out FANTASTIC!!! The bread is fluffy and light, and not dense at all for a no knead bread. You can definitely add this variation to your recipe for your readers. πŸ™‚ Thank you for posting this with great instructions, and beautiful photos. I’ve been trying to bake bread and with horrible results. This is the first bread I’ve made that not only LOOKS good but tastes divine! This is now officially my bread recipe. πŸ™‚

    • Mel says:

      Curious Little Bird – That is awesome that it worked out with whole wheat flour. Thank you so much for checking back in to let all of us know!

  164. Jody says:

    Hi Mel
    Would it work to use rapid rise yeast to get the 5 hour effect in less time or will it not be as good?

    Thanks, Aaron

    • Mel says:

      Jody – As far as I know, instant yeast and rapid rise yeast are the same thing and can be used interchangeably, so yeast labeled rapid rise should work just fine in this recipe.

  165. Erica says:

    Thanks for a wonderful recipe, the step by step pictures are very helpful. My family loves this bread and we make it all the time!

  166. Lisa says:

    I just made this and I’m laughing so hard, because I forgot to half the dough. It’s huge!!! Lol! I just added about 10 minutes to the cooking time, and the crusty outside looks great! I’m sure it will be delicious. Thank you for such an easy recipe that yields such beautiful bread!

    • Lisa says:

      Just wanted to let you know, the extra ten minutes was perfect to bake the whole recipe amount through. I also used an upside down cookie sheet, because I don’t have a stone. The bread is delicious! I will be making this on a regular basis…in halves LOL! The slices are enormous!

  167. Cindy says:

    Hi Mel. I made my very first loaf of bread using this recipe! The outcome was better than I thought (even when I don’t have an oven stone). However, the middle part of my bread is still a little doughy while the crust was beautifully browned.

    Do I lower down the oven temperature? Or should I let the dough rise longer? My dough rested for 2.5 hours before I popped it into the oven.

    I still have half the dough left so I’m really trying to improve! =)

    • Mel says:

      Cindy – If the center was doughy, I’d suggest baking it a little longer. An extra 3-5 minutes can help the bread bake through to the middle – if it’s browning too much with the extra time, it might be that her oven bakes hotter (very common, ovens can vary quite a bit in actual temperature) so reducing the temp by 25 degrees and adding extra minutes may help. Good luck!

  168. Leora says:

    This recipe is SO delicious! I’m not sure how to store it to keep the crust… crusty. It seems to soften if you put it in a bag.

    For other people making it, salt kills yeast, so NEVER add it directly to the yeast. I add it mixed in with the flour, or sometimes will do a starter of just a small amount of the flour, yeast and water and then add the salt after about an hour with the remaining flour.

  169. michelle cox says:

    I made this recipe and it turned out great! But I’m not quite sure what I was supposed to do with the second half of the dough. I formed both loaves at the same time and just left the second loaf sit on the parchment paper while I baked the first. It then got flatter than the first loaf. Should I have done it differently?

    • Mel says:

      michelle cox – I usually let the second half sit out while the first half bakes but I’ve noticed if my kitchen is overly warm, the second loaf will deflate a bit like you mentioned so I’ve started placing the second loaf in the refrigerator and gently removing it when it’s time to bake. Hope that helps!

  170. Of the 87 times I have made it, at least 40 of those times It has flattened during rising times and not puffed in baking. Do you know why this could be? I have notice that happening less when I use one cup of WW flour. Thanks!

    • Mel says:

      Maria – It is very likely because the bread is overrising before baking (when this happens, it doesn’t have enough oomph to continue rising in the oven and like a balloon, it reaches its max and then deflates). It could also be due to underflouring – which would make sense why the sturdier whole wheat flour helps the bread maintain it’s structure a bit better.

  171. Susan says:

    Love this recipe! Whenever I have to bring something to a potluck or party, I make this bread and whip up some honey butter and I’m greeted like a hero! My question is, a dear friend recently found out she is gluten intolerant-do you know if just switching out to gluten free flour would work? It’s so tough for her to find food she loves in gluten free and what better gift than homemade bread!

    • Mel says:

      Hi Susan – you are a nice friend to try to accommodate your gluten-free buddy! Unfortunately I have not tried making this bread gluten-free and can’t tell you whether or not it will work for sure. Good luck if you experiment! Otherwise, you might try doing some searching online for gluten-free artisan breads.

    • caryn says:

      If you use cup 4 cup gluten free flour it comes out very nicely!

  172. meg says:

    This bread is in the oven right now and I can’t wait to taste it!!

    Just in case this is helpful to anyone else, I don’t havea broker pan and thought I would just use a glass casserole dish to hold the water instead. My heat transfer engineering husband is shaking his head at me on this one, because, of course, when I poured the hot water into the preheated glad dish, the whole thing cracked right apart in my oven!! Bad idea!! Don’t use glass (everyone else probably already realizes this;) good lesson for me:)

  173. Jennifer says:

    Made this last night and it was better than the bread I have been making! Definitely a keeper!

    Just wanted to let you know that this bread baked beautifully in my Dutch oven and it was fabulous! I followed all the instructions exactly until it was time to bake. I placed the Dutch oven in a 450 degree oven for 30 minutes, removed the Dutch oven, placed the dough in and covered the pot and baked in oven for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes I removed the cover and baked for another 15 minutes. Perfect bread!!

  174. Tanya M. says:

    I made this last night into 6 bread bowls… worked great! πŸ™‚ Thanks!!

  175. Norah says:

    I made this bread today. Easiest bread recipe I have ever used. The bread came out fantastic!

  176. Marissa says:

    Oh my goodness. I made your bread tonight (with a few changes) and it was amazing. I added lots of Italian herbs to the dough as well as 2 tablespoons olive oil, then salted (sea salt) and buttered the top of the bread just before putting it in the oven, and it was ridiculously tasty. It came out looking a bit more like focaccia bread. It probably sat out a bit too long, but it’s perfect for eating on the side with dinner.

  177. Kathy says:

    Thanks for such a detailed tutorial!

  178. Linda says:

    made this yesterday it was my second attempt at making yeast bread. I don’t have to look any further for a great bread recipe. Thanks.

  179. Jihyei says:

    Mel, I love your site and have had more consistent success with your recipes than those from any other sites! I made this bread for fondue (also from you) a few weeks ago, and I got to thinking, could I shape the dough to make more of a baguette-like bread? What do you think?

    • Mel says:

      Jihyei – so happy you are enjoying the recipes! As for this bread, actually, I think you probably could. As you know, the dough is a little on the soft side but I think you could probably experiment shaping it into various lengths/widths as long as they are transferrable to the oven. Good luck!

  180. Annie says:

    Thanks for the recipe, most awesome bread I make, was worried about stickiness;
    I also used bread flour. Great taste!

  181. Ryan says:

    I have made this bread in the past but tonight after the initial rise, it was so sticky and “wet” I couldn’t even form it into a loaf or barely get it out of the bowl. I also couldn’t get it off my hands after picking it up. Any idea why it was so sticky? Followed the recipe just like before.

    Not sure what happened but I was so frustrated and just threw it away. Not sure if I want to waste more ingredients trying this one again.

    • Mel says:

      Has the temperature/humidity changed since you made it last? That can definitely factor into the texture of a dough although I can’t say exactly what would cause it to be ultra sticky this time. Sorry it didn’t work out for you!

  182. Sherrie says:

    I am going to try this today. I love your pictures, they are nice and small and step by step. Sometimes I hate scrolling through large pictures on blog recipes just to get to the recipe.

  183. Diana says:

    Happened upon this recipe looking for a quick rustic bread. I made it, it was sticky and gloppy and I had NO hope whatsoever that this would be anything but a giant pita bread.

    Wrong. It’s delicious. Toothsome interior,. chewy but tender crust. A keeper.

    Thank you for posting this and you have a new subscriber, too!

  184. Josey says:

    Mel oh my goodness this bread was the best yet thank you thank you for sharing it you are a doll. Not only is it lovely to look at it tastes awesome! Truly you are one of the best cooks on the planet and your baby is more beautiful than ever

  185. Hi Mel –

    Do you still have a printable PDF available? The link for it no longer works!

    Many thanks,

    Chelsea

  186. Esteban says:

    So we are now in 2015. This recipe is from 2012. What happened in between those years? I don’t know. But I do know that this morning while browsing for an easy bread recipe I came across yours. And I daringly decided to try it.
    Well, I didn’t had much expectations since I know making bread is easy… but a bit tricky.
    Anyways, the dough was sticky and I wasn’t sure if it will come out as I was hoping. But all my fears disappeared when I saw right out of the oven this two beautiful rustic, crusty and “free shaped” breads! I was in heaven, as if I won an Oscar or something like that.
    Fantastic, easy, delicious. I’ll never buy bread again.
    Thank you!

  187. saleena says:

    Love this recipe! wanting to change it up a bit. I’m going to do 4 cups white flour and 2.5 whole wheat, but I also want to add some grains (flax, sunflower seeds, chia, maybe oats?). Ever tried anything like this? Any advice? Haha

  188. Mae says:

    I’ve NEVER made bread before, and I’m really scared and excited to make this. It’s also my first time to your site. I get envious of my friend who makes her own bread and it’s delicious, but she uses a bread maker, which is a totally different case in my opinion. I don’t have a baking stone or parchment paper, so I’m going with the loaf pan option. Do I still need to include the broiler pan step with the loaf pan option? I’m hoping my bread turns out as rustic and crusty as yours did

  189. H says:

    Made this bread yesterday and it’s wonderful. Shared it with fresh cracked dungeon us crab with neighbors last night. They lov d the bread, so I’m making more today. Thanks for the post, it’s appreciated!

  190. Pam W says:

    Have made other types of bread but this is a fun and easy recipe, great for hearty soups and stews. I did need to add more flour to be able to shape the loaves. Baked beautifully on my pizza stone. Thanks for sharing. The pictures were really helpful…never worked with such a wet dough.

  191. Bil says:

    Hi, and thanks for posting the recipe and instructions, Mel. I’d like to bake the bread this weekend to go with a homemade sausage, kale, and potato soup. Just for clarification: whether or not you’re using the baking stone, you should also put water in the broiler pan to steam the bread, correct?

    Thanks in advance for the clarification. I look forward to trying the bread. πŸ™‚

    • Mel says:

      Hi Bil – yes, I’d recommend using the water no matter what the bread is baking on. It gives it that nice, crusty crust. πŸ™‚

  192. Michael Baumwohl says:

    Mine is cooling as we speak. Thank you.

  193. Aaron says:

    Freaking awesome! Cooked this in the dutch oven on our wood stove this morning. Let rise 20 min at room temp 63F placed in uncovered preheated dutch oven let rise for an additional 20 min, covered and cooked for 1 hr maintained a temp of 425+/- on stove top. Came out great perfect for fall/ winter in Idaho!

  194. Whitney says:

    Hi Mel,
    It would be wonderful if you updated this recipe with weight for the flour. I think that might take a lot of the guesswork out. No knead bread can go from a giant tortilla to a thick dough puck in almost no time. But, you know, no pressure. I love you just the same if you don’t get around to it!

    • Mel says:

      I’ll officially weigh the next time I make this, Whitney – but I almost always use 5 ounces of flour per cup so I’m pretty sure it will be right around 32.5 ounces.

  195. Michele says:

    Mel – at the beginning of this post under note you reference using half finely ground White Whole Wheat Flour. Are you referring to White Hard Wheat that you have ground? I love making Artisan bread and am excited to try your recipe. I am learning so much from you. THANK YOU

  196. Stefanie says:

    This is probably a total rookie question– I don’t have a broiler pan (and didn’t even know what one was so I googled it…) For this recipe where it just needs to hold water, can I replace it with a 9×13 or an oven-safe skillet or something just to hold the water and provide the steam? Or am I missing something that the broiler pan does specifically here? Thanks so much for all your awesome recipes!!! I always leave your site having gained 5 lbs just looking at all the recipes I want to try πŸ˜‰

    • Stefanie says:

      nevermind! i just dug a little deeper in the really old comments and found the answer! πŸ™‚ I will use another aluminum or metal pan instead. can’t wait to try it!!

  197. Kimber says:

    Am I completely missing something, or is the amount of water not mentioned at all in the recipe?

    • Mel says:

      It is mentioned here in step 1: In a large bowl mix yeast and salt into 3 cups lukewarm water (about 100 degrees). Stir in flour, mixing until there are no dry patches. Dough will be quite loose. Cover lightly with a kitchen towel but don’t seal the bowl airtight. Let the dough rise at room temperature 2 hours (or up to 5 hours).

  198. debbie says:

    This is a very good recipe that results in delicious bread. Thanks for sharing it.

  199. Mickey says:

    Mel, have you ever made this with all 100% white whole wheat flour and added gluten?

  200. John says:

    Hi Mel,

    I made this last week as a test, using half the recipie portions and making two small loafs. They came out perfectly and looked just like the photos about.

    This week I made a larger loaf again using half the recipie. However during the 40 minute rest period I covered the dough completely (the pervious week I had left it uncovered). I found that it spread out cracking the skin on top. I baked the loaf without reshaping it and although its baked well it didn’t rise up as much as the previous weeks.

    Is there anything I can do to prevent it from spreading? Should I leave the dough uncovered durng the rest period?

    Thanks! Awesome recipe and I love the image guide!

    • Mel says:

      Sounds like leaving it uncovered may produce the result you had the first time although I’m not sure why it would have spread more covered unless the covering (towel? plastic wrap?) was a little too tight and it didn’t have room to rise up instead of out. Glad you are enjoying the recipe!

  201. Bri says:

    If you’re baking on the cookie sheet turned over, do you still use the broiling pan with water underneath?

  202. Aretha says:

    What should I do after I refrigerate the dough? I left mine in the fridge so I coud make the bread the next morning.

    • Mel says:

      Just follow these directions from step #2 in the recipe: When ready to bake, cut off a grapefruit-size piece with serrated knife (I have only ever made two loaves out of the batch of dough so I just divide the dough in half to form my first loaf). Turn the dough in your hands to lightly stretch the surface, creating a rounded top and a lumpy bottom. Put the dough on a piece of parchment paper set on a pizza peel or a rimmed baking sheet turned upside down. Let the dough rest for 40 minutes for room temperature dough; if you have used the dough out of the refrigerator, let it rest for 1 1/2 hours. Repeat with remaining dough or refrigerate it.

  203. Amelia says:

    How do you store the dough in the fridge? Is a Tupperware container sufficient?

    This is rising on the counter right now, excited to make the first loaf tonight!

  204. Britt-Marie says:

    What if I don’t have a broiler pan? Could I just put water in a 9×13? Or could I bake it in the same kind of Dutch oven dish as your no-knead recipe?

  205. Jeff says:

    Should I be concerned about adding salt to yeast? Won’t salt kill yeast if added b/f it blooms?

    • Mel says:

      It works fine to add it together in this recipe. I think in other recipes that can happen – especially if the salt amount is excessive (and definitely with active dry yeast) but it works here.

  206. H. Mesina says:

    Just made this recipe and beautiful loaves of bread! So easy!! Thanks! Will definitely make more to share with friends.

  207. Amber says:

    I love that you did a list and pictures! This was delicious. Thank you. β™‘

  208. Heidi says:

    I made this recipe, and there were a few issues.

    1. I used bread flour. I was happy with the cohesive crumb that I got with that – it works really well for sandwiches.

    2. I added a Tb sugar because I just can’t not feed my yeast.

    3. I had to add more flour – I’m at around 2,000 feet so I don’t think that was it. I wasn’t able to handle the dough at all without the extra flour. The first loaf came out a little flat. The second loaf was a bit higher and had more flour. I think it needed the extra flour to have the substance to go up rather than out. Next time I make this I plan to add enough flour until it has a more standard bread texture and see how that goes.

    4. Salt. It was waaayyy too salty. I was accused of misreading the recipe but no – it really says 1 Tb salt. I’m going to try 1 tsp next time.

    Other than too salty, the flavor was great and I really loved the thick, chewy crust – that was a big hit with the family. I’m looking forward to trying this with some whole wheat flour, and a sourdough version as well.

  209. Raj says:

    Tried it in two different ways; there was enough dough for 4 small loaves so I baked two fresh and froze two. Thawed out the dough over the past day and tried it out just now, the second two loaves came out just fine. This is an excellent and ridiculously easy recipe to follow, has now become my go-to standard bread recipe. Love it… now, if I could only stop eating 1/2 a loaf each time I bake it…

  210. Sasha says:

    Have you ever baked a loaf the tried freezing it? Just wondering how it holds up! I don’t think it’ll be a problem having two loaves around but I’d prefer to not eat both within a few days!!

  211. Karin Carlson says:

    wow, so i just made the bread. The second loaf is in the oven as I type this. It looks marvelous, smells great and was pretty easy to make…Now comes the task of waiting …. until it is cool enough to devour. I hope it tastes as good as it looks…. Thanks for a great recipe β™₯

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