This title may sound like a bit of hyperbole, but if you try this unbelievable 4 ingredient no-knead bread recipe and don’t agree with us, we’ll eat our words!
There are two things that make this recipe really stand out; just HOW EASY it is, and HOW GREAT it actually tastes! It requires a little planning, but the actual time spent working is very short, and the recipe is very forgiving! The only things you need are a cast iron dutch oven, some parchment paper, and a cooling rack; a Kitchenaid Mixer does make short work of the mixing the dough!
You will see quite a few variations of this floating around the web, but I have added a couple tips and tricks I have picked up along the way. The first trick is to proof the yeast (may not be required if you’re using instant yeast, but can’t hurt!) in warm, NOT HOT, water. Room temperature works here. Another trick is to add a little seasoning, but this one is strictly optional, and I only do it about half the time, because the plan, basic bread is so good by itself. But, every not and then, I’ll add a little Italian Seasoning, or maybe even some Vegeta (careful, as this contains salt, and too much can kill your yeast and make your bread inedible! Ask me how I know…), or maybe even a little roasted garlic. It’s hard to go wrong!
So, here we go!
6 cups bread flour (recommended, we prefer King Arthur Bread Flour) or all-purpose flour, plus more for your hands and the work surface
1/2 tsp. instant or active-dry yeast
2 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
2 2/3 cup water
- Proof the yeast with about 2/3 cup warm water
- In a large bowl, combine the flour and salt. Add the remaining water plus the yeast and mix until all the ingredients are well incorporated; the dough should be wet and sticky. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap.
- Let the dough rest 12-18 hours on the counter at room temperature. When surface of the risen dough has darkened slightly, smells yeasty, and is you can see bubbles, it is ready for baking!
- Lightly flour your hands and a work surface. Place dough on work surface (a rubber spatula helps remove it from the bowl) and sprinkle with more flour. Fold the dough over a couple times and shape it into a rough ball.
- Generously dust some parchment paper twice as big as the bread with enough flour to keep from sticking as it rises; place dough seam side down on the paper and dust with more flour, cornmeal, or wheat bran. Cover with the edges or a second piece of paper, and let rise for about 2 hours, until it has doubled in size.
- After about 1 1/2 hours, preheat oven to 425 degrees. Place a 6-8 quart heavy covered pot, such as a cast-iron Dutch oven, in the oven as it heats. When the dough has fully risen, carefully remove pot from oven. Remove top paper from dough and slide your hand under the bottom paper; flip the dough over into pot. Shake pan once or twice if dough looks unevenly distributed; it will straighten out as it bakes.
- Cover and bake for 40 minutes. Uncover and continue baking for 10-15 more minutes, until the crust is a deep chestnut brown. The internal temperature of the bread should be around 200 degrees. You can check this with a meat thermometer, if desired.
- Remove the bread from the pot and let it cool completely on a wire rack before slicing (if you just CAN’T wait, BREAK a piece off but DO NOT cut it with a metal knife yet!!).
- Enjoy your handiwork!
Now is the perfect time to make some Salata De Vinete!