After years of trial and error (mostly error), I feel like I’m finally getting into a groove with bread-making.
The other day, the hubs and I were talking about how bad my first loaves of bread were. I’m honestly kind of surprised that I’ve kept at it – we threw out a lot of bread. Most of my first loaves turned out to be heavy bricks – good flavor, but the worst texture. Or I used the wrong kind of flour or combo, and it ruined what was probably an okay recipe.
But now, I’ve found a great sandwich bread recipe (still one of my favorites!) and am working on some other basics to have on hand.
The thought of trying to make baguettes at home still freaks me out (how in the world do you shape them correctly?! This makes me anxious). So before I go off into the unknown of shaped breads, I’ve finally found our favorite crusty, rustic bread recipe.
And the best part is that it’s super easy!
Most of the time for this recipe is the dough sitting by itself – no work required from you. There’s no actual kneading, either, so no need for a big mixer and dough hook.
In the world of bread, this loaf has it all:
– Seriously easy to make
– It gets itself ready while you’re sleeping or working
– No kneading needed
– The loaf gets perfectly crusty, all the way around, and stays soft and tender in the center
– It doesn’t have to be perfect, and it still somehow looks perfect when it’s done. Golden brown, cracked rustic crust, perfectly cooked.
Bread making can seem intimidating, but if you’ve been putting it off, here’s the recipe to get you started! It’s an easy, fool proof way to get your feet wet.
And once you make this once…..you might just be making it every week.
Easy Crusty Pan Bread
Does the thought of making bread freak you out? I used to be the same way. But this bread really is fool proof - AND, most of the work is done for you! No kneading required. The dough gets itself ready while you sleep or work, and then bakes up perfectly soft inside and crusty on the outside.
- 3 cups flour (can be all purpose or a mix of all purpose and whole wheat/white whole wheat - I've tried a few combinations)
- 1/2 tsp instant or active dry yeast
- 1 and 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 and 3/4 cups water
- In a large bowl mix the flour, yeast, and salt. Add the water, and stir until blended; the dough will be shaggy and fairly sticky.
- Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rest at least 10 hours, 12 hours if you can, at warm room temperature.
- The dough should be dotted with bubbles all over the top. Lightly flour a work surface and dump the dough out of the bowl; sprinkle it with a little more flour and fold it over on itself once or twice. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let it rest about 15 minutes.
- Using just enough flour to keep dough from sticking to work surface or to your fingers, gently shape dough into a ball. Put the dough seam side down on a cutting board or kitchen towel and dust with more flour, bran, or cornmeal. Cover with another towel and let it rise for about 2 hours. When it is ready, dough will be more than double in size and will not quickly spring back when poked with a finger.
- At least a half-hour before dough is ready, heat oven to 450 degrees. Put a 6- to 8-quart heavy covered pot (cast iron, enamel, Pyrex or ceramic) in oven as it heats. When your dough is ready, remove pot from oven. Slide your hand under towel and drop the dough into the hot pot; it may look like a mess, but it's alright! Don't worry about how it looks right now. Shake pan once or twice if dough is unevenly distributed; it will straighten out as it bakes. Cover with lid (or foil) and bake 30 minutes, then remove lid and bake another 15 to 30 minutes, until loaf is golden brown. Cool on a rack before cutting.