It’s the holiday season, which means baking is a MUST. When it’s cold outside and the family is gathered around, fresh baked bread is an important staple on the table. This crusty bread is the easiest no fuss loaf you’ll ever make. The two highlights of this recipe are that there is no kneading and it’s made in a dutch oven. The dutch oven steams the loaf, making it crispy and crusty. Towards the end of the bake, a few minutes with the top off gives it that golden hue.
It’s impressive, simple and super rewarding. Slather with salted butter and sop up all the juices of that Christmas roast.
One trick I have learned about bread baking is that it’s important to proof the yeast in warm water for about 10 minutes until foamy. If you are using instant yeast, this is not needed. For active yeast, make sure the water is not too hot. Touch the water, if you say “ouch”, let it cool. If it feels like cozy bath water, use it.
Another tip is that yeast likes damp warmth. If it’s cold outside, heat up the oven to 100 degrees and then turn it off. Put the bread in a bowl, cover with a damp dish towel and put in warmed oven that has been turned off. It will raise very happily.
- Prep Time: 1 hour 30 mins
- Cook Time: 45 mins
- Total Time: 2 hours 15 minutes
- Yield: 1 loaf (about 6 servings)
- 2.25 tsp. active dry yeast
- 1 tsp. sugar
- 1 1/4 cups warm water (warm to the touch like bath water)
- 1.5 tsp. kosher salt
- 2.5 cups bread flour, plus extra for dusting
- Combine yeast, sugar, and warm water in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook.
- Let the yeast proof for about 10 minutes, until the mixture looks foamy.
- Add kosher salt to bowl.
- Add flour to bowl a bit at a time and mix on low speed until all flour is incorporated and dough has just started to pull away from the sides of the bowl.
- Turn off the mixer and remove the bowl & dough hook. Set the dough hook aside.
- Lightly flour all sides of the dough (don’t mix the flour in) and turn it over inside the mixing bowl to coat with flour on all sides. Cover with a damp dish towel and let rise in the oven (turned off) for about 1 hour, until dough has doubled in size.
- When dough has risen, lightly flour a clean surface.
- Tip the dough out of the bowl and onto the clean surface. DO NOT PUNCH THE DOUGH DOWN.
- Sprinkle a bit of flour across the top of the dough, then begin shaping it into a round ball.
- Place your round loaf into the mixing bowl seam-side down. Cover with a damp tea towel and let rise another 30 minutes.
- While bread proofs, place an empty dutch oven (with the lid on) in your oven and heat to 460 degrees F.
- When the oven reaches the temperature, use oven mitts to pull the dutch oven out and remove the lid.
- Put the bread ball onto parchment paper and carefully lower into dutch oven.
- Using oven mitts, put the dutch oven lid back on and slide the whole thing back into the hot oven.
- Cook bread for 30 minutes.
- After 30 minutes, remove the lid from the dutch oven. The bread should be crusty and lightly browned. Continue cooking, uncovered, for 10-20 minutes more until the bread has deepened in color, with a beautiful brown crust.
- When bread is done, pull it out of the oven.
- Use a long spatula to lift the bread out of the dutch oven and onto a cooling rack. Let cool for at least 20 minutes before cutting into it.