in pursuit of more

living with just a little less

Easy Crusty Home Baked Bread (Baked Beans on Toast – Part Two)

Baking beautiful bread? Bread. Beauty. Bounty (alliteration today is brought to you by Cara). Today is the day!

I’ve been excited about this one for weeks, that is ever since I discovered it (I haven’t stopped baking beautiful bread since that day). This was a recipe I randomly & luckily stumbled upon, and I am not sure through which medium it actually came to me (I am thinking Pinterest) – however, it must be noted it was this amazing blog post that got me going.

Insert major gratitude here. Over the years, I’ve certainly tried all manner of bread recipes. Yeast and flour and I have never really gotten each other, and it could be that the precise nature of all things baking just does not come naturally for me. I am happy to say that I’ve finally found the one recipe that has made me a bread baker. The day has come, and now, if you want it, it is yours for the taking too!

It is true that not all good folks enjoy bread freely these days. With the rise in sensitivities to gluten, more and more people every day are avoiding the stuff.

Wheat being one of the oldest crops known to man-kind, it always seems crazy to me that evolution would take us down this road. Especially considering wheat’s status as the ‘staff of life’ and the fact it is an age-old source of sustenance that has been relied upon since the dawn of human existence. Wheat berries are cheap, they can be grown all over the world, and in their whole form are full of sound vitamins, minerals, and other healthy nutritious properties.

Used in their most natural form, whole wheat berries can be made into all manner of salads, added to stews, or famously sprouted for making raw bread or used to make rejuvelac and to grow wheatgrass. However, when wheat berries are milled, bleached, bagged, and left in giant storehouses to spoil & turn rancid, it’s no wonder that our bodies are struggling to recognize wheat for the simple, life-giving grain that it is.

So if you are sensitive to wheat & gluten, but can still eat it from time to time, do source out organic freshly milled flour if possible. You might just notice a difference in how you feel after eating it (or you might not). Whole wheat, all-purpose, or white, the most important thing to know is that it is fresh. Just like roasted coffee should be ground right before use, or nuts & oils can go rancid if left for long periods of time at the wrong temperature, all milled flours are susceptible to the same conditions, so use it fresh. Like all of your food (if you can).

Easy Crusty Home Baked Bread:

(3) cups all-purpose flour
(1/2) tsp active dry yeast
(1 3/4) tsp salt
(1.5 – 1.75 cups) cold water from the tap

Whatever additions your heart desires: fresh or dried herbs like rosemary, grated cheddar cheese, dried fruits, nuts & seeds, the ideas are endless! One ovenproof casserole with lid, preferably ceramic or cast iron.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together all the ingredients except for the water. Next, add the water (in bits or all at once) and mix thoroughly with a wooden spoon or tough plastic spatula. Once mixed, the dough should be sticky, like the picture shown below.

Feel free to play with the amounts of water used as I have used anywhere from 1.5 cups (the original recipe amount) to almost 2 cups. A good friend of mine uses a bread recipe very similar to this and suggested to add more water particularly if I play with other flours – ie. a mix of white & whole wheat.

Once the dough is well mixed, cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave to proof on the kitchen counter for anywhere from 12 – 20 hours. Seriously, this is (just one) of the beautiful things about this recipe. You can start the dough at anytime and get to the baking when it works for you. I have baked after 12 hours proofing and I have baked after 22 hours proofing. All delicious, all the time.

When you are ready to bake (and have a free hour and a half), turn on the oven and heat it to 450 degrees. Once the temperature is reached, put your oven proof dish in the oven and heat it for 30 minutes. Just before the heating time for the dish is ready, flour a work surface with a very generous handful of flour. With your hands, pull the proofed dough out of the bowl and set it on the floured surface.

Shape the dough into a roundish loaf and evenly coat it with the flour. Don’t worry about any inconsistencies with the shape of the dough – it will all sort itself out in the baking process. This is a no-knead recipe. Yes, that is right, no kneading! So. Very. Awesome.

Remove the hot pot -careful it will be HOT! – and place the dough carefully into the dish. No oil or anything required. Place the lid on top (or foil if this is your method – use good oven mits!) and place the dish into the hot oven still set to 450 degrees. Bake for 30-35 minutes, keeping the oven hot by not peeking (I love having a hot and heavy lid that prevents me from peeking).

I have done both times and prefer the 35 minute time, the crust gets (just a little) crustier that way, but feel free to play with a time that works for you.

After 30-35 minutes, carefully remove the dish from the oven, and voila! Hot, beautiful, glorious bread. Remove onto a wire cooling rack and allow to cool before slicing. For best keeping, do not store in a plastic bag until the loaf has cooled completely as this will diminish the crust on the loaf. A paper bag or on the counter is great right after it is made.

Though if you make this in time for a family meal I can almost guarantee leftovers will not be an issue. Serve with soup, salad, curry, pasta, or make into crusty bread sandwiches with tofu steaks, cheese, lettuce, and ripe red tomatoes. My personal favourite? Fresh out of the oven with butter. A bowl of hearty warm beans. And not a whole lot more (or less) 🙂

Whatever makes up your daily bread, doing so with reverence and appreciation of all things past can give us a better understanding of how it is we got where we are today. Things don’t always get better with time (but thankfully many things do).

In our modern world full of processed, packaged, ‘middle grocery aisle’ foods, fresh foods from fresh ingredients are still best. It’s been that way for thousands of years. Funny how some things never change. Fresh is still best.

89 responses to “Easy Crusty Home Baked Bread (Baked Beans on Toast – Part Two)

  1. Shira, I love bread and haven’t tried the no-knead breads yet. This sounds like a good reminder to do so. I have a bread machine, which I also love using. Nothing like waking to the smell of fresh bread. Beautiful pictures as usual.

    Just an FYI–little typo–“her’s to wishing all of my Canadian readers”–“Here’s”. 🙂

  2. Lovely post! Your bread looks absolutely beautiful, inside and out.

    We’ve still never made a no-knead bread around here, but an oven-proof Dutch oven-type dish is on the someday wish list…

    1. Thanks Allison! This was so easy it really did seem to good to be true…I’d love to see/hear how it turns out in a pan with foil..I am going to try that at some point myself! 🙂

  3. I am so excited about your post! I have been eagerly awaiting it since you talked about it in your last post (which also looks amazing and right up my alley). Baking bread has always intimidated me, but I think I can handle this! I am SO bothered by the bread options at the big chain grocery stores. I hate that something my kids like to eat every day is so full of unnecessary and unhealthy ingredients. Can’t wait to try this! Thanks for the post!

    1. My pleasure, I am so glad to have discovered it and am able to share it! I agree with you on all counts when it comes to average grocery store options…this might just just do 🙂 Keep us posted! X

  4. Beautiful bread! My favorite is homemade sourdough – like you said, fresh out of the oven – with butter. 😀
    Looking forward to the Brussels sprout recipe!

  5. Just a 1/2 tsp of yeast? I’m so excited to try this – looks amazing, but I wanted to double check that it’s the correct amount. Thanks, Shira! I love your blog!

  6. Shira, I can’t wait to try this…in fact, I think I’m going to make it tonight and proof it overnight for dinner tomorrow 🙂 I can’t believe how easy it is and no kneading! I recently got into making bread, and there really is something therapeutic and comforting about the whole process. I love presenting my family with freshly baked bread. Have you substituted part whole wheat in this recipe and in what proportions?

    1. Hi Maura! Awesome! You won’t be disappointed 🙂 I tried a full whole wheat version one night when I had used up all the white flour…truthfully it wasn’t to our taste but I would think (maximum) half and half would be good! My more experienced friend suggests 1/3 whole wheat and I think if I try it with other flours I will start with that – just be sure to add a little more water (never exceeding 2 cups though). Good luck! Let us know how it goes 🙂

      1. Hi Shira! I tried it with 1/3 whole wheat and 2/3 all purpose flour. I used 1.75 cups of water, but I think next time I would only use 1.5 cups. Not sure if it is the humidity in Hawaii or what, but my dough was really liquidy when I checked on it at 20 hours. It was still very yummy and crusty though, after I baked it!

        1. Hi Maura!! that is interesting – you might be right about the humidity – mine has been also very wet (but not liquidy) so maybe the 1.5 cups of water would be better…I find the inside to be so moist too which is why I love it so much. I definitely agree with your ratios for the next try too. Wasn’t it crazy easy? Happy it worked out in the end! Thanks for letting us know! 🙂 X

  7. I think bread is a miracle. It wasn’t until I’d been cooking out of Deborah Madison’s Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone that I decided to attempt homemade bread again. I figured she was right about everything else… why not? Even with the occasional dense loaf (I am impatient with the yeast), there is little I enjoy more than ripping into a fresh, hot, homemade loaf. Tonight ours was 100% white whole wheat with sunflower seeds. Yum.

    1. Your bread sounds SO good! Enjoy! I am so with you….I do wish I could eat it all the time but alas I must be moderate…it’s difficult! 🙂

  8. I was in love with this post, then I saw my favourite Dr. Seuss quote and my heart just melted. I have only baked my own bread a couple times, but fell in love with the results. For some reason it never stuck though. You are re-inspiring me!

    Hope you had a lovely Thanksgiving in Whistler 🙂

    1. We did Gabby! Thanks! The weekend was spectacular (20+ degrees, amazing) – this bread is too easy no to try, then again it is a bit addicting…have a great week! Hope you had a great weekend too 🙂

  9. Your bread is beautiful, Shira. I am a bread baker and I think my favorite bread is an oatmeal bread that uses maple syrup as the sweetener. It’s white and somewhat sweet, but contains rolled oats so it is healthier than some white breads — not much fat in it either.

    1. That bread sounds yummy too Sharyn- is it posted on your blog? I love that about this recipe too as there is absolutely zero fat from oil at all 🙂 It’s awesome!

      1. Hi Shira, I think it is on the blog in a post called something like “What’s for Breakfast When the Milk Is Gone?” It is a milk-free recipe that only calls for a tablespoon of fat — it does require kneading, but it is a sponge method, so you don’t have to knead it in its first stage.

  10. mhmm there is nothing better than homebaked crusty bread. I used to be so spoilt from my grandmother because she made a couple of fresh loafes every single week when i was little. for dipping and to match with baked beans, a white loaf is perfect.. and although i usually prefer the spelt and wholewheat ones, this one would be the one and only to match a stew! mhmmm

  11. Oh my. That looks incredible. Baking bread is so comforting and sociable. (I usually only make a loaf when I’m with friends, otherwise I’d eat the whole thing). On the topic of gluten intolerance – the fundamental cause is that modern wheat has been bread with a high gluten content which are difficult to digest. Ancient wheat had shorter protein (gluten) strands that were easier to digest. If you are sensitive using kamut or spelt flour, which are older forms of wheat and have shorter protein strands, may help stave off tummy trouble.

    1. Thanks for the info on the gluten…this is super helpful! I’ve often thought this is why I have no issue eating bread in Europe – is it possible they are using ancient strains of wheat when we in North America are not? I personally have a bit of a sensitivity and go through phases…however in France I ate bread everyday with no issue at all 😉 I agree with you about baking for friends….it saves us from ourselves 100%! Great comment!

  12. Shira! I’ve made the Jim Lahey/Mark Bittman versions a few times as well as the “artisan bread in 5 minutes a day” Love them all. And there are never any leftovers, can’t wait to try your version. I can tell from all the different loaves you’ve made how much your family adores this bread!!!

    1. Awesome Somer! I’ve often seen delicious breads grace your blog…it honestly makes one feel so accomplished and nothing makes me happier than feeding the family with home baked bread 🙂 X When it is this easy there is just so many reasons why it is a good idea!

  13. My grandma taught me how to bake bread the way her mother-in-law did every single day (she had 10 sons so she would bake about 3-4 loaves a day. I can’t even begin to imagine…). Aside from that bread recipe and pizza dough, I generally don’t have good luck with bread baking, though I always wish I was better.

    This recipe looks so wonderful- I love that you can let it proof for 12-22 hours. That is a huge bonus for me! I cannot wait to give this a try. I’m so excited! Thank you! xo

  14. I have a love affair with bread I never intend to break away from! I loveee bread, fresh bread is the best. This looks so delicious, even with the dollop of butter, YUM!

  15. That looks like a different method to my normal way of making bread – not sure about how the recipe varies but I do have cup measures so will definitely be giving it a go, thanks!

  16. YUM! All last winter I used a similar method from Artisan Bread in 5 minutes a day and it was dangerous – homemade bread everynight was addicting (but so good) – I am pretty sure I put on 5 pounds in that bread loving eating month :0

  17. I’ve been making this bread for a couple years now and we all devour it as soon as it comes steaming from the oven! It’s the absolute best, and your photos are delicious! xx

    1. Thanks! I knew there would be other kitchen savvy blogging friends that already knew of this magical bread 🙂 I am late to the party but boy am I glad I came!! Love it Spree! 🙂

  18. Hi, made this bread using your method (didn’t quite get the recipe quantities right for various reasons so used a slightly different white bread recipe). Love it, thank you! Will be blogging it with due credit!

    1. So glad and of course! Blog away – if only everyone could know how wonderfully easy it is to make amazing bread at home 🙂 So happy it worked out! Thanks! 🙂

  19. So when I first read that you had been crazy about this bread and making it every day, I might have passed a couple subconscious judgments. The word crazy might have been echoed. Then I made the bread. Yesterday, when I mixed it up, I was disappointed that I had to wait 12 hours. This morning I baked it, was tortured with the smell as I wrote my blog post, and have since eaten about half of the loaf. It is amazing and fool proof. To test that last sentiment, I’m going to try to convince my husband to make the next loaf… Thank you for sharing, and I either no longer think you are crazy, or have become crazy, too! 🙂

  20. Your bread looks amazing…just a question – do you think it would work with spelt flour in the same way?

    1. Thanks! I think it would be worth a try – I’d love to hear how it turns out. I don’t see why not though? 🙂

  21. I had this bread at my niece’s the other day and it was wonderful. I tried it today and it seemed it was not baked enough. I baked it at 350 for 35 min. and did not peek. Can you tell me what I might have done wrong.
    Marge

    1. Hi Marge! Did you bake it at 350 degrees or 450 degrees? The bread will only bake at 450 degrees as it is the heat that makes the magic happen 🙂 It should be pretty fool proof if done that way!

  22. Just an update–I am still making this bread, and only this bread, every week. I have long had it memorized. The husband has made it, raves about it, and brags to his friends how we don’t eat store-bought bread anymore. My sister has even started making it for her family in between chasing two kids and working full time. Thank you again for sharing and inspiring me to try this!

    1. Hi Marian – what a fantastic update!! I am so happy this has turned out to be such a great recipe for your household. We love it too! Thx for sharing!

  23. I was an avid bread baker until I was diagnosed with a gluten sensitivity a few months ago. I haven’t had much luck with gluten-free bread recipes. I saw this recipe on another blog and the simplicity of it had me getting out my bowls and pans once again. I mixed up a batch with my gluten-free flour blend to bake tomorrow, fingers crossed. Then I came to your page here and had to chuckle a bit at your references to gluten. I will be so very excited if this turns out!

    1. This. bread sounds wonderful. I can’t have gluten and I am waiting to hear how the bread came using gluten free flour that Tami was going to use.

  24. Trying this recipe for the first time. I made bread with my Mom whenI was much younger. Love the smell of bread baking. Anyway, I have mixed together the dough, using only 1 1/2 cps water. My dough looks really wet. I used regular AP white flour. Hope it works out fine. It just doesn’t look like the picture! Wish me luck!

  25. Sorry to say, this was a complete disaster! I followed the recipe, used 3 cps of. AP white flour and 1 1/2 cps water only. It was so soupy! I added in approximately another 1/2 cps of flour. My dough did not look like the photo at all! Anyway, I let it proof 24 hrs. It did look bubbly like the photo. When removing it from the bowl, it basically poured out, leaving about an eighth of it stuck to the bowl. I poured onto the generous amount of flour I had put on my board. It was next to impossible to shape. A mess! I couldn’t even lift it to put into my pot so I poured it in! It’s in the oven. I have NO hope for a good result. The amounts shown in the recipe above HAVE to be wrong!

    1. Hi Jan! This recipe has been made many, many, times with amazing results (and is directly adapted from the New York Times recipe which has been made by people all over the world) – I am sorry you did not have a good experience! Are you sure you used fresh yeast?

  26. Hi Shira, Yes, I bought the yeast the morning I mixed my dough. It was strange, I knew something wasn’t right when I added only 1 1/2 cps of water and it became really soupy, nothing like your photo. I couldn’t even imagine using 1 3/4 cps! After adding the extra 1/2 cps of flour and proofing 24 hrs, it did look like your proofed dough photo. I knew the yeast was doing its thing, it was all bubbly and I could smell it. I agree, I’ve searched other recipes and they seem to be the same. I’ll give it another try. Just frustrating because I’m no beginner, I bake/cook all the time. Plus, I was looking forward to nice fresh crusty bread!

  27. Thank you SO much for this recipe! I’ve been ogling it for months, and I finally got a Dutch oven and just pulled my first loaf out – it’s life changing! It seems unlikely, but have you ever frozen this bread? I cook for one, so I’m always curious. If it doesn’t freeze well, that just makes a great excuse to share with friends around town!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Instagram