For Christmas dinner, I wanted to go all out and make some delicious homemade no-knead crusty artisan bread. A few years back I made bread over the holidays and served it with homemade strawberry jelly. Yes I am that overachiever. In any case, it had been a while since I made the bread and I failed to remember all the steps.
What I did know was that I was looking to achieve a no-knead crusty artisan bread and I wanted to cook it in my dutch oven. I use this one from Lagostina. In truth, I was really pressed for time. I had to make two loaves of bread and sticky toffee pudding all before 2 pm because that was when the roast needed to be in the oven.
However, I am essentially as cool as a cucumber and didn’t balk at this challenge. I couldn’t wait to accomplish it. And the easiest way to do that was with my easy no-knead crusty artisan bread recipe!
The ingredients are simple. Flour, salt, yeast, and water. Which ideally makes this recipe vegan-friendly! However, the one downside to this recipe is time. Most recipes require you to let your dough rest for 12-18 hours making these overnight recipes instead. And if you cannot tell by now, I am the least patient person on this earth. Especially when it comes to making baked goods. I admit that is my vice!
So when I made my bread, I let me dough rise for about an hour. I essentially waited for the dough to double in size and then I went and baked it. I had to do this because I was on a time crunch. While the dough turned out tasty, I think that it would have been even tastier if I waited for the dough to rest longer.
I remember the last time I made it, I let the dough rest for at least 4 hours. When the dough has a longer time to rest, the flavours develop in depth and range, bringing out that slight tart-yeast-y flavour you get in homemade dough. So if you know you want to make bread, I suggest leaving a lot of time in your day to let the dough rest, since baking it doesn’t take long.
Speaking of which – baking the bread. This part is the easiest and it does not require any fancy machines. Just your dutch oven. When I am making my dough I “knead” it a bit with the dough hook attachment on my stand mixer. Yes I know, the recipe says this no-knead, but I still think mixing it a bit by hand or with an attachment for a few minutes is helpful. Especially if you are going to be letting it rest for a shorter amount of time.
Finally, I mention rolling the dough into a boule. A boule is French for “ball”, and is a traditional shape of French bread, resembling an oval ball. It is a rustic loaf shape that can be made of any type of flour.
I made two types of bread, the regular crusty artisan bread (flaked with some sea salt), as well as rosemary garlic bread. The recipe makes enough for one large boule. You can half the recipe and have two small-sized boules. I used fresh rosemary from my garden and I made a garlic confit. For the garlic, you just place some cloves on a baking tray, drizzle some olive oil on top and let it broil until it becomes brown and soft. If you squeeze the garlic a paste should come out. I used the back of a wooden spoon to smash the garlic roughly into a paste. Alternatively, you could use a tablespoon of garlic powder in lieu, but I think fresh garlic is better!
The recipe is for a regular artisan bread with no additions to it. You will add the dry flavourings/herbs to the flour mixture. If you are adding the smashed garlic you will add it once the dough has been kneaded with the dough hook. In other words, you will knead the fresh garlic in with your hands.
And now without further ado, let’s get right into making some delicious no-knead crusty artisan bread, shall we?
This recipe yields an artisanal bread that is crusty, slightly tart in flavour and is oh so delicious. No fancy equipment is needed, you only need is a dutch oven! Feel free to mix up the flavours by adding different ingredients like rosemary and truffle salt!
In a big bowl sprinkle yeast and sugar into 1 1/2 cups of warm water. Let the mixture rest for 10 minutes, so that it becomes bubbly.
Slowly incorporate the flour and salt into the mixture. Either using a spatula, wooden spoon or the dough hook of your stand mixer, mix the ingredients until well incorporated. If you have a stand mixer, you can "knead" the dough for 5 minutes with the dough hook.
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it sit on your counter for 4 hours (minimum) to 12 hours. If letting rest for 4 hours, keep the dough in a warm place.
Add your cast iron pot (with the lid) to the oven and begin to preheat your oven to 450 F degrees. While oven is preheating, place dough onto a floured surface and knead it for 5-7 minutes. Eventually, you will form your dough into a boule*. Let this boule rise for 15-20 minutes.
Remove the pot from the oven and either sprinkle some cornmeal or carefully place parchment paper at the bottom. Add your boule of dough, sprinkle some Maldon sea salt (optional) and cover it with the lid. Place the bread into the oven.
Bake for 30 minutes with the lid on. The bread should be nice and brown. If not, remove the lid and bake for another 5-10 minutes or until golden brown.
Remove the bread from the pot. Let cool completely before slicing into it and serving.
The link above takes you to a YouTube Video that shows you how to form your dough into a boule. Essentially you are rolling it into a taut ball shape.
Resting your dough
It is important to rest your dough for at least 4 hours, although 6 would be better and 12 is ideal. I am impatient when it comes to baking as well, but bread needs some TLC. And that requires a bit of time as well.
As you can tell by the photos, I made two kinds of bread. A regular crusty boule as well as a rosemary garlic boule. For this variation, you will add the following ingredients when adding the flour to the yeast mixture. Alternatively, you can make your flour mixture in a separate bowl with the following additions:
You will add the mashed garlic once the dough has been mixed:
Roasted Red Pepper:
You will add the roasted red pepper once the dough has been mixed (i.e. knead it in with your hands).
**If at any time your dough feels too sticky, you can add a little extra flour. Only add 1 tbsp at a time (enough to not let it stick to your hands).
*** If your dough is too dry you can add a little bit of olive oil or water. Again only a 1 tbsp at a time.