Crusty Artisan Bread made with only 4 simple ingredients: flour, water, salt, & yeast. A beautiful crusty artisan bread, it has a wonderful crispy crust on the outside & the inside is soft & dense.
This is the simplest bread recipe I have ever made! This recipe only has 4 ingredients in it & chances are you probably already have at least 3 out of the 4 ingredients on hand: water, flour, salt, & yeast. If you have never made bread before then this recipe is a great place to start! I love that this recipe doesn’t require the use of a bread machine or for you to spend any time kneading dough. You just mix it up in a bowl & let it rise. The only thing hard about this recipe is having the patience to wait for the dough to rise. From start to finish it takes about 3 hours but the majority of that time is spent just waiting for the dough to rise & then bake in the oven.
Everyone in my family loves this bread so much that I try to make it once a week. I love to make this bread to go with dinner, it tastes so good served warm from the oven with butter. It stays fresh & great tasting for a few days after you make it too. I love to use the leftovers to slice up & eat it with butter on top or to make sandwiches.
The recipe below is half of the original recipe because I didn’t want to make a huge batch of bread. With this recipe I like to make 2 smaller sized loaves instead of one big one but you can make it however you like. I also chose to bake mine on a cookie sheet instead of a baking stone because it was easier.
Source: This recipe is from the amazing book Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day (amazon affiliate) by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois. The authors also have a great video on YouTube that is very helpful: Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. For more information on this bread you can also visit the website they have: Artisan Bread in Five.
- 1½ Cups warm water
- ½ Tablespoons + ¼ Teaspoon Salt
- ½ Tablespoon Yeast (I used Red Star Quick-Rise Yeast)
- 3¼ Cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- Add yeast to large mixing bowl, next add warm water to activate the yeast.
- Add flour & salt to the large mixing bowl & stir all the ingredients together.
- The bread should be just a little sticky but not too much, if it's really sticky & wet add a little extra flour, if the dough is super dry then add a little more water (sometimes I have to add a little extra water to mine).
- Cover the bowl but not airtight (I placed a clean kitchen towel over the top of the bowl) & let it rise for 2 hours.
- After 2 hours place the dough onto a well floured surface. If you want to make 2 smaller sized loafs of bread then divide the dough in half.
- Shape the dough by picking it up & using your hands to fold the edge of the dough under until you have a round loaf shape with smooth edges. Place onto a greased cookie sheet.
- Using a serrated knife cut the loaf (about a ¼ inch) into the center & then also make one about 1 inch to the left of center & one to the right so the top doesn't crack while its baking (See picture above).
- Let it rise for 40 more minutes.
- After the 40 minutes, preheat oven to 450 degrees BUT first place a metal 9x13 inch pan onto the bottom rack of your oven (*WARNING*: Do Not use glass, it can explode or shatter!)
- When the oven is preheated place cookie sheet with bread onto the middle rack of your oven then quickly add 1 cup of water to the bottom 9x13 pan you have on the bottom rack. This pan is used to create a steam in the oven while the bread bakes, in the end it will make your bread have a nice hard crusty texture on the outside but still be soft inside.
- Bake for 18-30 minutes or until the top & bottom are a nice golden brown color. If your making 2 small loaves it will probably be done in 18-20 minutes but if your making one large loaf it will take longer.
- Remove from oven & let it cool for awhile so it will slice easier, then enjoy!