Freshly baked bread… Best scent ever!
The aroma of freshly baked bread is so comforting for me. It’s right up there with the scent of freshly baked chocolate chip cookies or apple pie. If I was told I couldn’t have gluten, I’d obviously learn to adapt, but it would definitely be heart-breaking. I can’t imagine my life without fresh bread.
As a person of Portuguese descent, I think bread is built into my DNA 😂. We seem to enjoy our carb over-loading. It’s not unusual to be served potatoes, rice and bread with the same meal at Portuguese homes and restaurants.
A new bread recipe.
I’m thrilled to share our new no-knead artisan bread recipe with you today. I’ve kept testing, tweaking, and tasting recipes to make the best possible homemade loaf of bread. This recipe is a combination of ingredients, quantities and techniques I’ve learned from making homemade artisan bread over time.
My perseverance has paid off! This bread is definitely one of the best I’ve ever made, and I’m incredibly proud of this recipe.
A crusty crust is the best kind of crust.
Whenever I think of artisan bread, I think of an imperfect, beautiful, crunchy, golden crust. This recipe achieves that.
In addition to the dough itself, there are a few factors that contribute to that perfect crust. By baking this bread in a covered dutch oven for the first 30 minutes, the bread is baked in its own steam which helps thicken the crust.
The last part of the baking process is done with the lid removed and at a high temperature. These conditions help create that wonderful golden colour.
Besides the crust, another true sign of a great artisan bread is the crumb (the part of the bread inside the crust). It needs to be soft, have large air pockets and not be overly dense. I think this recipe meets all the criteria. I’m always thrilled to slice into a loaf like this… especially one I’ve baked myself. Such satisfaction!
Baking on a weekday… It’s all about the timing!
I love baking, but when it comes to artisan bread, it’s often a weekend project for me because of the dough’s lengthy rise times. But, I’ve played a lot with timing and I now have it down to a science.
Here’s how I make this bread on a weeknight… I usually wake up at 6:30 am to get lunches started and then I wake up our little guy and get him started with his breakfast. Getting a new bread started only takes about 5 minutes, so it’s something I can squeeze into my morning routine. Basically, I put all the ingredients in a bowl, mix them long enough to incorporate, and cover the bowl. That’s it for the morning bread task. Then I go to work.
At 7:00 pm (roughly 12 hours later) I turn the dough out onto the counter, give it a light knead for about one minute, shape it into a tight ball and place it in a proofing basket or bowl. I cover it and let it rise for another 2 hours. 30 minutes before the last rise is complete, I preheat the oven so that I can start baking as soon as the dough is ready. In it goes, and 50 minutes later, we have a perfect artisan bread.
I let the bread cool completely and cover it. By now, it’s roughly 10:30 pm (almost my bedtime) and we have fresh home-baked bread for breakfast. Another option is to freeze the bread for future use (though it doesn’t usually make it to the freezer before it’s gone, in our house).
Although it sounds like a lot of time from start to finish, the effort is minimal.
Give it a try!
If you’ve baked bread before, this will be a piece of
cake bread for you and you’ll love it. If you’re new to baking bread or you’ve never tried because you’re afraid it’s complicated… I’m here to tell you that it’s really not. So now’s the time! (Well… maybe not right now… I have no idea what time it is for you right now… but definitely really soon ;-).
Try it out, then slather on some quality butter, or a generous slice of cheese, or a jam or fruit compote (like our apple pie compote, or berry compote), or…heck I could go on… but you get the point. You’ll be so proud to serve this bread to family and friends (or enjoy it all to yourself… I won’t judge). Enjoy, and prepare to eat well, friends!
This bread is so good! Soft on the inside and crusty on the outside. A huge bonus is that you can bake a loaf during the week if you manage your time well.
- 3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
- 1 1/2 tsp salt
- 3/4 tsp traditional active dry yeast
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 1/2 cups water, at room temperature
- extra flour for dusting
In a large bowl, mix all the ingredients with the back of a heavy wooden spoon or use your hand. Mix until all the ingredients are well combined.
Place the bowl in an area that doesn’t have any sort of breeze. Cover the bowl with cling wrap and then a towel to keep it warm.
After 12 hours, dust the countertop with a little flour.
Turn the dough out onto the counter.
Dust your hands with flour and start pressing into the dough with the heal of your main hand in a forward motion (right hand if you’re right handed).
Bring the dough back over using the tips of your fingers.
Repeat the last two steps for about 30 seconds.
Form a ball with the dough. Start pulling the edges of the dough down and under. Rotate the dough and keep repeating until a nice tight ball is formed. The top should be smooth.
Flour a proofing basket or large bowl with a towel inside.
Place the dough ball, top down in the basket or bowl.
Cover the bowl with a towel and set aside for 2 hours.
About 30 minutes before the second rise is done, heat the oven to 475 ºF with the dutch oven inside, on the second shelf from the bottom.
Once the two hours of rising are done, uncover and quickly, and carefully turn the dough over, upside-down onto a large square of parchment paper.
Using a very sharp knife, cut slits (a couple of cm deep) with a quick movement into the top of the dough. We cut a square, but you can use any shape you like. These cuts are needed. They let out steam while the bread is baking.
Remove the dutch oven from the oven (careful, it’s very hot) and remove the lid. Using the edges of the parchment paper, place the dough into the dutch oven and cover.
Place the dutch oven back in the oven (second shelf from the bottom) and bake for 30 minutes.
Open the oven door and remove the lid from the dutch oven. Close the door and bake for another 20 minutes uncovered.
Take the finished bread out of the dutch oven, using the edges of the parchment paper (or large tongs) and place the bread on a cooling rack.
Let the bread cool for at least 30 minutes before slicing into it.
You now have a beautiful and delicious loaf of bread! Caution… your neighbours will be knocking on your door shortly! 🙂