easy crunchy crust bread

Homemade chewy, moist bread with a crunchy crust is something I attempted for years. I’ve tried a variety of bread bibles, baking stones, clay cloches, brotforms, multiple gadgets and techniques to make the kind of bread I was aiming for. Turns out, the very easiest technique I tried ended up creating exactly the kind of bread I wanted.

Here’s the skinny:

Step 1 – Mix the dough

The dough has only four ingredients: 3 cups bread flour, 1.5 tsp. salt, 1 tsp. yeast (I use Saf Instant), and 1.5 cups water.

Put the ingredients, in order, in a 2- or 4-quart mixing bowl. Mix ’em together.

pre-dough

The dough will look shaggy when completely mixed.

dough_mixed

Step 2 – Let the dough do its thing, overnight recommended

Put a cover on the bowl, or plastic wrap if the bowl doesn’t come with a cover.

Let the dough rest in the bowl at room temperature 8-24 hours. I usually make the dough the night before and bake the next day. Sometimes the next morning, sometimes the next night. Either way works fine.

Step 3 – Preheat a dutch oven with cover 30 minutes at 475F

I have a 5-quart dutch oven that works perfectly.

dutch_oven

Step 4 – Form your loaf

Your dough should look very sticky and shiny at this point – not shaggy at all.

bread shiny stage

Sprinkle a couple tablespoons of bread flour over the dough. I tap the bowl lightly while turning it, slightly tipped, to distribute the flour to the edges. Once the flour is at the edges, I take a rubber spatula and start to ease it down the sides of the dough. Then I tip and turn the bowl to loosen the dough while the flour slides down its sides.

bread start forming loaf

After most of the outside of the dough is covered in flour, I swirl the bowl lightly to form a flour-covered ball. It’s easier than it sounds. The main idea here is to form the dough into a ball WITHOUT KNEADING. There is NO KNEADING required. Easy peasy.

dough_formed

Step 5 – Put your loaf into the preheated Dutch oven, put the lid on, lower temperature to 450F, and bake 30 minutes

bread_pre_oven

Step 6 – Take off the Dutch oven lid, bake 10-15 additional minutes

After 30 minutes, your bread should look lightly cooked – see below.

bread_30_mins

Step 7 – Check the crust, take your bread out to cool

After 10-15 minutes, the crust should look like the pic below.

bread_out_of_oven

Take your bread out to cool and voila! Crusty bread ready to serve or save for later.

bread_finished

One comment

  1. […] last up to a year unrefrigerated. Homemade bread is easy to make in a dutch oven — see this recipe. It can be made using coals from a campfire as well, though I recommend you research the process […]

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