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

199 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! :-)

  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! :)

  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 :)

  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! :(

  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! :)

  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. :)

  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 Café- 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.  It was a recipe for rustic, crusty bread.  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.

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