If you could see me right now, you’d know I am jumping for joy for this post.
Because this beautiful loaf — this glorious no-knead Dutch oven bread — might just be the very best bread I’ve ever baked. Seriously. And it also happens to be one of the easiest ever, too. And I’m going to show you, step by step, just how to do it.
Like I said, so much jumping for joy. And for carbs.
First things first: The reason I believe this may be the very best bread I’ve ever baked (the method for which, by the way, originated from the great Jim Lahey of Sullivan Street Bakery) is three-fold. One, the taste. It’s just amazing. It’s slightly salty and not at all boring, like some basic breads tend to be. Two, the texture. It’s mega-soft on the inside but with a light, tender, almost flaky crust on the outside. And the air pockets in the bread slices just slay me. You’ll soon see what I mean. AND YOU WILL LOVE IT.
And three, the preparation. This recipe couldn’t be simpler: As in, you stir a few ingredients together, let them sit overnight, and the next morning, you bake a loaf of bread. DONE. No, I’m not joking. Yes, you need to drop everything and make this bread right now. So let’s get to it!
First, in a large bowl, whisk some flour, salt and yeast (I used my go-to Red Star active dry yeast) until well mixed. Pour in warm water (about 110 to 115 degrees F, or just slightly warmer than lukewarm) and use a wooden spoon to stir the mixture until it forms a wet, sticky and shaggy dough. That’s it! No kneading, no nothing. Just cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough rise for at least 8 hours (but no more than around 18 hours).
When the dough is fully risen, it should be more than doubled in size, bubbly and flattened on top. That means it’s ready for baking! Yes, already. No, it won’t be difficult.
Heat your oven to 450 degrees F, and place a covered Dutch oven on the center rack to preheat for about 30 minutes (I used a 6-quart Dutch oven, but even a 4-quart or 8-quart Dutch oven would work). Meanwhile, punch down the dough and, using very well-floured hands (the dough is pretty sticky, remember!), transfer the dough to a well-floured sheet of parchment paper. Shape the dough into a ball and sprinkle the top lightly with more flour. Cover the dough with a sheet of plastic wrap and let it rest for 30 minutes.
When the dough is fully rested, remove the Dutch oven from the oven (careful, it’s insanely hot!) and either transfer the dough alone directly to the Dutch oven, or place it in the Dutch oven with the parchment paper underneath. If the bottom of your Dutch oven isn’t enamel-coated, it’s best to use the parchment paper. Mine is enamel-coated, but I find it easier to keep the round shape of the dough if I just place it in the Dutch oven with the parchment paper. Whatever works fer ya!
Cover the Dutch oven and return it to the oven (how many times can I type the word “oven”?). Bake the dough 45 minutes covered, then another 10 to 15 minutes uncovered until the top of the bread is a lovely golden brown. Can you believe it? YOU BAKED THAT. And you barely had to do anything.
Let the bread cool for just a few minutes — basically until you can handle it without burning your fingerprints off — and then slice away. Suggestions on how to eat it: As grilled cheese, dipped in soup, as garlic bread, spread with peanut butter (and jelly!), cut up into croutons, ripped apart and shoved right into face, etc. etc. I have done/will do all of the above.
Of course, if you also need someone to come over and assist you in eating all of this gorgeous and delicious loaf of bread you just baked, I’m your leading lady. But if you’re anything like me, I have a feeling you won’t need any help.
Uhhhhhhhhhh those air pockets, AMIRIGHT?
- 3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for shaping
- 2 teaspoons sea salt
- 1 teaspoon Red Star active dry yeast
- 1½ cups warm water (about 110 to 115 degrees F)
- In a large bowl, whisk flour, salt and yeast until well mixed. Pour in warm water and use a wooden spoon to stir until a shaggy dough forms. The mixture will be wet and very sticky to the touch.
- Cover bowl tightly with plastic wrap and set aside in a warm place 8 to 18 hours until dough rises, bubbles and flattens on top.
- Heat oven to 450 degrees F. Once oven is preheated, place a 6-quart Dutch oven (with cover) in oven 30 minutes before baking.
- Punch down dough. Generously flour a sheet of parchment paper; transfer dough to parchment and, with floured hands, quickly shape into a ball. Place dough on parchment paper and sprinkle top lightly with flour. Top with a sheet of plastic wrap and let rest 30 minutes.
- Remove Dutch oven from oven. Uncover dough and carefully transfer to Dutch oven, with or without parchment paper beneath (if bottom of Dutch oven is not coated with enamel, keep parchment paper beneath dough). Cover Dutch oven and return to oven.
- Bake bread 45 minutes covered, then another 10 to 15 minutes uncovered until dough is baked through and golden brown on top. Cool slightly before slicing.
Disclosure: I received compensation from Red Star Yeast for recipe development purposes. All opinions are my own.