This soft, homemade warm bread with a crispy crust is delicious and easy to make. You only need 3 ingredients, a bit of prep work and patience as it rises for a few hours.
You’ll have your kitchen smelling super toasty as it bakes in the oven and I promise, you’ll be thinking of your Grandma as the aroma of freshly baked bread spreads throughout your kitchen 😋
There’s something about bread and butter that simply melts your worries away, puts a smile on your face and takes you back to your younger years.
And remember how Jesus shared a loaf with thousands of people? Pretty amazing how bread and love go together, right?
- 3 1/2 cups flour (any kind will work; I use the one from Aldi) ***1/2 cup will be used for dusting later)
- 2 TSP Sea Salt
- 1 TSP fast-rising Dry Yeast
- 1 1/2 cups warm water (I put it in a glass and warm it up in the microwave for about 30-45 seconds)
- Mix the flour, salt and yeast in a large plastic bowl. Slowly add the warm water and mix well with a spatula or wooden spoon until a soft dough forms. It shouldn’t be sticky or flaky. You can add a bit more water or flour until the consistency is soft and doughy.
- Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough rise at room temperature until it doubles in size, usually 8-12 hours. As it’s rising, you’ll see tiny bubbles in the dough, which means the yeast is working 🙂 ***Tip: I put my bowl by the stove where it’s warm and this helps with rising.
3. Heat oven to 450 degrees F. Once it’s preheated, place your dutch oven with cover in the oven for 30 minutes before baking your bread. ***Tip: Heating the dutch oven before baking the bread creates a nice, golden crust all around and keeps the hot temperature distributed evenly as it bakes.
4. Transfer the dough to a well-floured surface. Put flour on your hands as you fold the dough, creating a soft ball. Place it on a large square of parchment paper, dust with more flour, cover with plastic wrap and let rest for 20 minutes.
***Tip: Keep the dough by the stove and don’t expose it to any cold air, since a drop in temperature could affect the dough’s texture. (I let my dogs outside once while the dough was resting and sure enough, it didn’t bake as well and created a dry, tough bread.)***
5. Carefully remove the dutch oven from the hot oven. Place the shaped dough with the parchment paper inside the dutch oven. Using a sharp knife, slightly cut (score) an X on top of the dough. Scoring the dough prevents unwanted cracks and helps the dough rise up instead of expand out. Then, using a spray bottle or pastry brush, lightly mist the top of the bread to give it some moisture. This little trick creates a nice golden brown crust.
6. Cover the dough with the lid, return it to the oven and bake for 30 minutes. The dough should have risen to a nice big oval/round bread with a light golden crust on top. Remove the lid, spray lightly with water and bake for an additional 10 minutes or until the top is brown and crispy.
***Tip: Spraying helps the crust turn more crispy.
***Option: Once the oven is turned off, you can either keep the bread in the oven for an additional 5-10 minutes as it cools off OR you can remove it from the oven right away and let it cool off on a dry surface.
I’ve only used the Dutch oven to bake this bread so I am not familiar how it would turn out using a different casserole dish/stoneware. The heavy duty cast iron or enamel that the Dutch oven is made of is what creates this outstanding, crusty golden on the outside and soft, warm on the inside type of Artesian/old fashioned bread.