Want to bake easy, no-knead artisan bread with a crackly, chewy crust and a fluffy crumb? Of course you do! Read on for the EASIEST, no-knead bread recipe out there.
3 Cups (390g) bread flour (or plain flour – recipe will work with both)
¼ teaspoon fast active yeast
1 teaspoon sea salt
1.5 cups (354ml) hand-hot tap water
Extra flour for shaping the dough
Cling film or beeswax wrap
Clean tea towel
A cast iron casserole dish with lid – make sure handle isn’t plastic.
Making the dough
NOTE: Aerate your flour before measuring. To do this, simply stir the flour around in the bag or a roomy mixing bowl. Flour often settles and compacts in the bag, so aerating it will prevent too much flour from being measured out.
Scoop 3 level cup measures of flour into a roomy mixing bowl. Add a teaspoon of sea salt. and ¼ teaspoon fast active yeast.
Stir the flour, salt and yeast to thoroughly combine.
Pour in 1.5 cups of hand-hot tap water and mix thoroughly until it turns into a wet, rough dough. You can use a fork to do this if it’s easier. Different brands of flour have different absorption rates, so if the dough seems dry and stiff, slowly add more hot tap water until the dough is sticky.
Cover the dough with cling film/ a beeswax wrap and a clean tea towel and leave to rise. This dough is very forgiving, so you can leave it on the counter overnight, ready for baking fresh in the morning, or leave it for around 3 hours at room temperature to rise.
Your dough should be puffy and the surface should be bubbly when it’s ready to be baked.
Baking your loaf
1. About an hour before you want to bake the bread, put your lidded cast iron casserole dish into a cold oven, then turn your oven on to its maximum temperature and leave it in there to heat up.
2. Carefully remove the clingfilm/beeswax wrap and use a spatula or scraper to transfer the dough to a generously floured board.
3. Sprinkle a large pinch of flour over the surface of the dough and gently fold the sides of the dough over the flour sprinkled surface a few times to create a large, soft dough ball. The dough should feel soft and springy to touch.
4. Wash and dry your mixing bowl and tear off a large piece of baking paper.
5. Scrunch the baking paper into a ball and then smooth out again and line your mixing bowl with it.
6. Transfer your dough to the paper-lined bowl and cover with a clean tea towel for around 15 minutes.
7. When you’re ready to bake the bread, remove your casserole dish from the oven, using oven gloves.
8. Carefully transfer the dough to the hot pot using the baking paper (the dough stays on the baking paper in the dish). Replace the lid and bake at max temperature for 45 mins to 1 hour.
9. Remove casserole dish from oven using oven gloves, take off lid and then carefully remove baking paper from the part-baked bread. The casserole dish will be raging hot when you do this, so please take care!
10. If you want to darken the crust, put the bread back into the casserole dish and return to the oven for around 15 mins, this time leaving the lid off. This will brown the bread and give you the characteristic crackly crust you’re after.
11. Once the bread crust has coloured to a deep golden brown, remove the bread from the pot with oven gloves and turn out on to a wire rack to cool for 15 minutes.
Turn this into an artisan sourdough loaf
To make a sourdough version of this loaf, replace the yeast with 1 cup of recently fed sourdough starter and carry on with the recipe as usual. Learn how to make your own sourdough starter here.