The most delicious bread recipe I have tried. It is easy to make and requires very little effort and delivers a crusty, delicious loaf every time.
Before you think “Oh, it can’t be the BEST bread she’s ever had”, let me be clear. I am not exaggerating when I say that the first time I tasted this bread I was absolutely blown away. I set out to develop a good, crusty loaf of bread but I honestly wasn’t planning on it being THIS good. All I wanted was a nice, easy bread recipe. What happened was the most delicious, perfectly seasoned and well-flavored bread I had ever baked.
But, I am a bread addict so I asked my husband and brother (both harsh critics and not easily impressed) to try and they both agreed that this was insanely good bread. My brother in fact begged me to bake him a loaf. I’ve baked this bread 4 times since then and every time I am surprised at how good it turns out.
Tips for making the best crusty bread
- Using a stand mixer with a dough hook definitely simplifies this recipe even more but it can totally be made by hand.
- Giving the dough a good 90 minutes to proof allows a good amount of flavor to develop. You can leave the dough in the fridge overnight for slow fermentation to happen but I haven’t felt the need to do that yet.
- Preheating the dutch oven (casserole pot/pot with a lid) in the oven is perhaps the most important step in this recipe. The screaming hot pot is 100% the reason the crust is so shatteringly crisp.
- Even though a loaf of bread straight from the oven is one of the most glorious things in the world, resist temptation and allow the bread to cool to room temperature before slicing. Cutting into the loaf too quickly can cause the interior to be gummy. Allow the bread to cool completely for the fluffiest, softest interior just begging for a thick layer of butter and flaky sea salt.
Making ahead and freezing
- Make ahead: This dough can be made up to 4 days ahead and kept in an airtight container in the fridge. Allow to come to room temperature before baking as instructed.
- Freezing: The kneaded dough can be frozen in freezer bags for up to 4 months. Thaw in a bowl covered with a damp tea towel and allow to rise before baking as directed. Baked bread can be wrapped and frozen for up to 3 months but won’t be as crusty once thawed.
What to serve with crusty bread
- Rosemary Pecorino Potato bread
- Cheese and herb Irish soda bread
- Easy garlic butter dinner rolls
- Brioche loaf
Easy crusty bread
- Dutch Oven / Oven-safe pot with lid
- 1½ cups warm water (When you put your finger in the water, it should feel like nothing. This is called blood temperature. 98.6°F or 37°C)
- 10 g (2tsp) instant yeast
- 1 tsp sugar
- 3 cups flour (+1 cup for dusting)
- 1 tsp salt
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the water, sugar and yeast. Allow to stand for 5 minutes until foamy.
- Add the flour and salt then knead with the dough hook for 5 minutes.
- The dough will be slightly sticky but shouldn't be wet. If it is, add 1-2 tbsp flour and knead in.
- Bring the dough together into a ball with your hand. Dust over 1-2 tbsp flour (you want it to be well covered).
- Cover the bowl with a damp tea towel and allow the dough to rise for 1 hour until doubled in size. Leaving the dough in a warm spot will aid the rising.
- Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F. Place a pot (dutch oven) with a lid into the oven to preheat.
- When the dough has proved, turn it out onto a floured surface. Fold the edges into the center of the dough then place into a floured bowl, seam side down. Dust over more flour.
- Cover with the tea towel and allow to rise for another 30 minutes.
- Carefully remove the pot from the oven and remove the lid. Transfer the dough to the pot and cover with the lid.
- Place in the oven and allow to bake for 30 minutes.
- Remove the lid and bake for another 10-15 minutes until the bread is golden brown.
- Remove the bread from the oven and allow to cool on a wire rack for 20-30 minutes (or until it has cooled to room temperature) before slicing and serving.