I have tried a lot of bread recipes. A. LOT. They tend to be a ton of work, and the loaves have always turned out dense and tasteless.
Until this recipe.
You GUYS. I can bake bread. This is dangerous. Everyone loves it far more than we should, especially considering how easy it is to make.
This recipe from King Arthur Flour (reprinted from Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day) is idiot-proof. You need flour, yeast, salt, water, and a bucket. That’s it. The hands-on portions of the dough prep take less than 15 minutes. The results are consistently beautiful and delicious. Give the finished loaves a squeeze and listen to the crackle of a chewy golden crust.
No food-grade buckets in your collection? Ask at your favorite restaurant. They often have a few sitting around that they might be willing to sell for a few bucks.
- 3 cups lukewarm water
- 1.5 Tablespoons instant yeast (if you don’t have/don’t want to use instant yeast, just proof regular yeast in 110-115° water for 10 minutes before adding it to the flour)
- 32 oz. flour (weigh it. If you don’t have a food scale, check out the recipe link for measuring tips)
- 1 Tablespoon salt
- Throw the ingredients into a food-grade bucket, stir until completely mixed, then put the lid on and let the dough rise for 2 hours in a warm place.
- Stick the bucket in the refrigerator (we put ours in the garage during winter) for up to 7 days. The yeast will ferment a bit and give you more flavor the longer it sits.
- When you want to bake a loaf, dust your hands with flour and pull off a chunk (1/3 will give you a nice-sized round loaf). Shape it into a round ball or a french-bread-looking long loaf on a floured surface.
- Place the loaf on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and loosely cover it with plastic wrap. Let it rise for up to an hour. You won’t see a lot of height – it will mostly spread outward. Don’t worry – it will puff up nicely in the oven.
- Preheat oven to 450°. Place an empty shallow pan on a rack directly below the rack where you’ll be baking the bread. Get 1.5 cups of water ready to go. Sprinkle the bread with a little flour and cut a few slashes across the top right before you bake it.
- Working very quickly, slide the bread into the oven and pour that water into the pan below, then immediately close the oven. That steam will settle on the crust and give it that chewy magic you’re seeking in a great loaf of bread.
- Bake for 25-30 minutes until the crust is a deep golden brown. Cool on a baking rack.
- Try not to eat the entire loaf in one sitting. But if you fail at this last step, there will be no judgment here. I feel you.