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.


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


  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.

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

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

  1. Sarah says:

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

  2. 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.

  3. 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!

  4. 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!

  5. 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.

  6. 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!

  7. 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.

  8. 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!

  9. 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!

  10. […] 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 […]

  11. Faith says:

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

  12. […] 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 […]

  13. 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.

  14. 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.

  15. Nadia says:

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

  16. 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!

  17. 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!

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

  19. 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!

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

  21. 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!

  22. 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.

  23. 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 🙂 great instructions

  24. Frankie says:

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

  25. 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.

  26. 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 🙂

    • 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!

  27. 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!!!

  28. 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.

  29. 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.

  30. 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.


  31. 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!

  32. 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.

  33. Jim Croce says:


    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.

  34. Rita says:

    The best and easiest recipe for bread making ever!!

  35. 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!

  36. 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…

  37. 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!!!

  38. 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!!

  39. 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?)

  40. 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!

  41. 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!

  42. 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?

  43. 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!

  44. 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!

  45. 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!

  46. 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! 🙂

  47. 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.

  48. 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 🙂

    • 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?

  49. 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!

  50. 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.

  51. 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.

  52. 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!!!

  53. 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!

  54. 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! 🙂

  55. 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!

  56. 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.

  57. 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.

  58. 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.

  59. 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

  60. 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.

  61. 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 real well in my dutch oven. a little tweaking on my part and it will be great.
    thanks again and keep them coming

  62. 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.

  63. 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. 🙂 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. 🙂

    • 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!

  64. 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.

  65. 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!

  66. 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!

  67. 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!

  68. 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.

  69. 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!

  70. 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.

  71. 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!

  72. 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:)

  73. 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!!

  74. Tanya M. says:

    I made this last night into 6 bread bowls… worked great! 🙂 Thanks!!

  75. Norah says:

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

  76. 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.

  77. Kathy says:

    Thanks for such a detailed tutorial!

  78. 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.

  79. 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!

  80. Annie says:

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

  81. 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!

  82. 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.

  83. 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!

  84. 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

  85. Hi Mel –

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

    Many thanks,


  86. 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!

  87. 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

  88. 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

  89. 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!

  90. 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.

  91. 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. 🙂

  92. Michael Baumwohl says:

    Mine is cooling as we speak. Thank you.

  93. 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!

  94. 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.

  95. 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

  96. 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 😉

    • Stefanie says:

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

  97. 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).

  98. debbie says:

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

  99. Mickey says:

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

  100. 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!

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