Simple Crusty Bread

by Shawnda on March 8, 2008

in Bread

Simple Crusty Bread

I was reminded last month that making bread can be quite the labor of love. Julia Child’s French Bread took forever to make. While I was looking for a creative way to pay homage to Julia and her 10-hour bread, I ran across a no-knead “wet dough” recipe in, surprise, the New York Times.

Since stumbling across the recipe last month, we’ve made three batches. It’s pretty easy to pull off just enough for a small loaf of hot, fresh bread with dinner every night. The dough produces a good crust and a light, chewy crumb. It’s also quite pretty :)

Simple Crusty Bread

Simple Crusty Bread

Chewy, crusty bread shaped in the form of a wheat stalk.


  • 1 1/2 Tbsp yeast
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp kosher salt (I used sea salt)
  • 6 1/2 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour, more for dusting dough
  • Cornmeal


  1. In a large bowl or plastic container, mix yeast and salt into 3 cups lukewarm water (about 100 degrees). Stir in flour, mixing until there are no dry patches. Dough will be quite loose. Cover, but not with an airtight lid. Let dough rise at room temperature 2 hours (or up to 5 hours).
  2. Bake at this point or refrigerate, covered, for as long as two weeks. When ready to bake, sprinkle a little flour on dough and cut off a grapefruit-size piece with serrated knife. Turn dough in hands to lightly stretch surface, creating a rounded top and a lumpy bottom. Put dough on pizza peel sprinkled with cornmeal; let rest 40 minutes. Repeat with remaining dough or refrigerate it.
  3. Place broiler pan on bottom of oven. Place baking stone on middle rack and turn oven to 450 degrees; heat stone at that temperature for 20 minutes.
  4. Dust dough with flour, slash top with serrated or very sharp knife three times. Slide onto stone. Pour one cup hot water into broiler pan and shut oven quickly to trap steam. Bake until well browned, about 30 minutes. Cool completely.
  5. Variation: If not using stone, stretch rounded dough into oval and place in a greased, nonstick loaf pan. Let rest 40 minutes if fresh, an extra hour if refrigerated. Heat oven to 450 degrees for 5 minutes. Place pan on middle rack.
  6. You can find a wonderful pictorial on forming the Pan d'Epi here.


Yields: 4 loaves

Adapted from Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day

Estimated time: 2 hours


{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Joy the Baker March 9, 2008 at 12:41 am

So much bread in so little time! I’m so impressed. It’s beautiful!


2 Mike March 9, 2008 at 9:44 am

That sounds far less intimidating than the 10 hour bread! Looks tasty, and given the amount of bread I consume, well worth trying!


3 cara March 9, 2008 at 9:52 am

Thank you so much for sharing this – I had read about that book and was quite intrigued!


4 Bridget March 9, 2008 at 11:09 am

How funny, Cooks Illustrated’s take on this (Almost No-Knead Bread) is on my menu for this week. I’m intrigued.


5 Michelle March 9, 2008 at 11:47 am

This would be great for nights when you want some fresh bread but didn’t start thinking about it at dawn ;-) The illustrations in the link you provided are great too!


6 cara March 9, 2008 at 12:39 pm
7 Mandy March 9, 2008 at 5:08 pm

beautiful bread! and congrats on the DMBLGIT win!


8 Kate March 9, 2008 at 7:18 pm

Gorgeous bread, and I love that its easy!


9 Jeff Hertzberg March 9, 2008 at 11:51 pm

Hi I’m Jeff Hertzberg, one of the book’s co-authors. Thanks for all your enthusiasm. Come visit us at; you can post to any of the “Comments” fields. It’s a great way to contact us for questions.

Jeff Hertzberg


10 tara March 10, 2008 at 7:33 am

Thanks for sharing this! I’ve yet to attempt bread but this recipe seems so simple! BTW – You Made My Day!


11 judy gal March 10, 2008 at 12:12 pm

What type of yeast is used in this recipe??
Thanks a bunch, J


12 chris March 10, 2008 at 3:58 pm

That’s one good-lookin’ loaf of bread!


13 foodiebride March 10, 2008 at 4:38 pm

Judy gal – Active Dry Yeast (Red Star brand)


14 Julie O'Hara March 18, 2008 at 9:57 am

That does make a pretty loaf. I’ve been wanted to try a recipe from this book, so I think I’ll do this one soon. I think I’ll try using half whole wheat pastry flour. I think this is my first time visiting your blog–very nice!


15 Vickie April 20, 2008 at 9:08 pm

I just love how easy you make this sound. I love it so much that I must try it… and try it I did. SUPER EASY!!! This really is the best method yet. I just purchased the book and everything in it sounds very simple. I made some of the basic boule for some people at work and five of them wanted me to make some for them… can you say “fast cash”?


16 Felecia September 30, 2011 at 1:12 pm

Are there any substitutes for the broiler pan if you don’t own one?


17 foodiebride September 30, 2011 at 1:22 pm

A cake pan works great! I don’t have a broiler pan anymore, either.


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