Easy Crusty, Rustic Bread with only 4 ingredients!

 This is the first loaf of bread that I've ever baked in my entire life! And it came out perfectly!! 

Rustic loaf of bread

I cannot believe how simple it was to make this. It turned out to be as lovely as any rustic, specialty loaf of bread that you get in an artisan bakery. Golden brown on top with a hard crusty top. And when you cut through the crunchiness, you get into the soft, slightly chewy center of goodness. And to think that it's made with just 4 simple ingredients! 

I never imagined in my wildest dreams that I would be able to bake a loaf of bread. 

It seemed to be a daunting task, an exact science that required precise measurements, right temperatures, waiting times for proofing and rising and a mastered technique for kneading, folding and preparing the dough. It sounded like something that required a lot of practice to actually get perfect. And I wasn't sure I had what it took in terms of patience and perseverance.

However, in these days of COVID-19 and quarantine, I've been taking this time to try things I've never done before. So, one fine morning, my husband and I woke up and decided that we'll bake a loaf of bread together. We started the process at 9am and by 5pm, we had a golden loaf of goodness that we admired oh so lovingly and proudly, in total disbelief that we had actually created this.

At tea time, we enjoyed warm slices of bread slathered with butter and our favorite thick cut marmalade. And for dinner, the fresh bread was the perfect accompaniment to a hearty homemade stew. It was absolutely delicious. 

The next day for lunch, we used the bread to make mouth watering Mediterranean style sandwiches with pesto, sliced tomatoes, red onions, cucumbers, feta and fresh basil. I swear it  was good as any Panera style sandwich.

The recipe for this loaf is super easy with no kneading required.

The hardest part of making this bread, is actually doing nothing.
Just let the yeast do the work and find something else to do while the dough is rising.

Rustic loaf of bread

How to make an Easy, Crusty, Artisan Bread.


Time: 8 hours

Servings: 12 thick slices

Nutritional information: 

1 slice= 120 calories (Carbs 24g; Fiber 1g; Protein 4.3g; Sodium 240mg)

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/4 tsp      Red Star Active Dry Yeast (1/4 oz. packet 7g)
  • 1.5 tsp         Kosher salt
  • 3 cups         Unbleached bread flour + approximately 1/4 cup flour for dusting
  • 1 1/2 cups   Lukewarm water

Method:

  1.  Add 1 cup of flour, salt and yeast to a large mixing bowl and mix well to combine.
  2.  Add warm water slowly to the mixture and make a smooth paste.
  3.  Add the remaining 2 cups of flour slowly to the mixture, initially stirring with a spoon. If it becomes too difficult to mix with a spoon, you can use your hand to form a rough dough. 
  4.  Cover dough with a cloth and leave in the oven/ microwave for 5 hours to rise.
  5.  Grease a 9" pan with oil and sprinkle it with flour.
  6.  Turn dough out on to floured surface. Use additional flour for dusting and form a smooth round  ball by tucking the edges of the dough under.
  7.  Place dough in the pan, smooth side up. Cover it with a cloth and let it proof for 2 hours.
  8.  Preheat oven to 450°F. Place a large baking tray at bottom of the oven and keep a glass of warm water ready.
  9.  Dust top of dough lightly with flour and score top of dough with a sharp knife.
  10.  Gently place pan on the center rack of the oven.
  11.  Pour the warm water quickly into the tray at the bottom of the oven and shut the oven door, quickly and gently. Steam will fill the oven. 
  12.  Bake for 30 minutes.
  13.  Remove and cool for 30 minutes on a wire rack.
  14. Slice and Enjoy!

This recipe was inspired by New York Times- Simple Crusty Bread

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