Easy & Frugal Baked Bread Recipe

by heather

Easy No-Knead Crusty Bread

Easy No-Knead Crusty Bread

If you’d like to save money on bread, especially that fabulous crusty bread that most bakeries charge $3-$5 per loaf for, then have I got a treat for you…

See the picture on the right? Looks good, doesn’t it?

I made that bread this weekend. It required very, very little effort on my part. And, it cost less than 50 cents to make.

Easy, No Knead Bread

Yes, you read that right…this frugal bread recipe requires no kneading.

Seriously. When I say this is easy to make, I really really mean it.

I first stumbled onto this great bread recipe on Mother Earth News. I was immediately intrigued because a) I’m addicted to crusty bread, b) this recipe uses a Dutch Oven to bake the bread and c) it looked really easy.

So, I decided to give it a go this weekend. And boy, was I a happy girl.

The Benefits of This Simple Bread Recipe…

This simple bread recipe has a lot going for it.

  • It only uses flour, salt, yeast, and water. So, you’re going to save a bundle by making this at home instead of buying artesian loafs at the grocery store.
  • It’s tasty. The flavor is on the yeasty side, which I love.
  • It’s the easiest bread recipe I’ve ever seen. You really don’t have to knead it, and still you get the beautiful bread shown in the picture.

The Downsides To This Recipe…

Is there a downside to this recipe?

Yes. And the downside is turnaround time. This recipe takes a long time to make. But, don’t think this means you do a lot of work. You don’t.

What I’m talking about here is rising time. When I made this bread over the weekend, here’s what happened:

  • I made the dough at 5:00 p.m. Saturday
  • I let it rise until 10:00 a.m. Sunday
  • I worked with a bit more and threw it in the oven- bread was done at 12:00 p.m.

So, that’s a turnaround time of 19 hours.

But, 98% of that time is just letting the yeast do its work. So, this is not a recipe to use when you have people coming over in a few hours.

Ok, here’s the recipe, with visuals:

No Knead, Dutch Oven Bread

1/4 tsp active dry yeast
1 1/2 cups warm water
3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting. You may use white, whole wheat or a combination of the two.
1 1/2 tsp salt
Cornmeal or wheat bran for dusting

1. In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in water. Add the flour and salt, stirring until blended. The dough will be shaggy and sticky. Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let the dough rest at least 8 hours, preferably 12 to 18, at warm room temperature, about 70 degrees.

The shaggy, sticky bread dough...

The shaggy, sticky bread dough...

2. The dough is ready when its surface is dotted with bubbles. Lightly flour a work surface and place dough on it. Sprinkle it with a little more flour and fold it over on itself once or twice. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let it rest for about 15 minutes.

The bread dough's surface is dotted with bubbles...

The bread dough's surface is dotted with bubbles...

3. Using just enough flour to keep the dough from sticking to the work surface or to your fingers, gently shape it into a ball. Generously coat a clean dish towel with flour, wheat bran or cornmeal. Put the seam side of the dough down on the towel and dust with more flour, bran or cornmeal. Cover with another towel and let rise for about 1 to 2 hours. When it’s ready, the dough will have doubled in size and will not readily spring back when poked with a finger.

The bread dough dusted with cornmeal...

The bread dough dusted with cornmeal...

4. At least 20 minutes before the dough is ready, heat oven to 475 degrees. Put a 6- to 8-quart heavy covered pot (cast iron, enamel, Pyrex or ceramic) in the oven as it heats. When the dough is ready, carefully remove the pot from the oven and lift off the lid. Slide your hand under the towel and turn the dough over into the pot, seam side up. The dough will lose its shape a bit in the process, but that’s OK. Give the pan a firm shake or two to help distribute the dough evenly, but don’t worry if it’s not perfect; it will straighten out as it bakes.

This bread is about to go into the oven...

This bread is about to go into the oven...

5. Cover and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the lid and bake another 15 to 20 minutes, until the loaf is beautifully browned. Remove the bread from the Dutch oven and let it cool on a rack for at least 1 hour before slicing.

Voila!

Voila!

The Very Best Part Of This Bread Recipe…

Clean up was minimal for this bread recipe. Yahoo! The bread slid right out of the Dutch Oven when it was done, and all I had to do was dust out the excess cornmeal.

Again, you find this original recipe at Mother Earth News.

Slice of bread with wine and cheese, anyone?

Yummy bread!

Yummy bread!

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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Green Bean June 1, 2009 at 11:25 am

I’m all over this. Been looking for a good bread recipe.

Rebecca Rivera June 1, 2009 at 9:31 pm

looks great. I got a free breadmaker from freecycle and use it every other day. It makes great bread and dough as well.

RowdyKittens June 1, 2009 at 11:04 pm

This looks amazing! Yum, yum, yum! Logan and I were making a lot of bread during winter (and grinding our own wheat too). But we stopped because of the heat. It has been unreasonable hot in Sacramento – I hope it cools down this weekend because I want to try this recipe. Thanks for sharing.

heather June 2, 2009 at 6:33 am

@GreenBean- Thanks so much for reading! I hope you enjoy it.

@Rebecca- That’s so cool you got a free breadmaker! I would love to have one of those. But now that I’ve found this recipe I’ll just use this one all the time. I think next time I’m going to try it with whole wheat flour.

@Rowdy- Yeah, I think you’d love this recipe. But making it in the warm weather would actually do the bread good I think. It says if you can let it rise at 70 degrees it’s the best. My kitchen was a bit cool overnight when I did my loaf, so you might get more fluff where you are. 🙂

Jennifer June 9, 2009 at 11:10 am

There was a similar recipe in The New York Times a few years ago. There is nothing like yummy, crusty bread that doesn’t need kneading! The only reason we don’t make it more often is that we end up eating it rather more quickly than we ought to…

heather June 9, 2009 at 11:36 am

Jennifer,

Tell me about it. My husband and I DEVOURED this bread. We ate it with olive oil and fresh rosemary, with unsalted butter, with blackberry jam…

Yum. Yum. Yum.

And yes, we ate it way too fast…as usual! 🙂

joe October 20, 2009 at 8:03 pm

I was looking for a loaf bread recipe….I read Mother and YES this is GREAT!! Easy and better than you could ever buy! Thanks for posting…Read Mother Earth News

Jessica January 30, 2010 at 12:28 am

This was some of the best bread I have ever had! It was super easy to make. I let it set on the inital rise for 17 hour or so. When it came time to let it rise a second time, that rise ended up being closer to 3 hours instead of 2, but it was still wonderful! I am going to play with this recipe more, seeing if cheeses, herbs or whole wheat flour can be used to the same awesome effect. Thank you for this recipe! I will be making this quite often and for anyone that I can! the only downside I personally found was I had no way of baking the bread the way it was recommended (in a covered, oven-proof dish/pot), so I spend 36+ dollars to get a cast iron dutch oven. However, I just know I’ll use the dutch oven for this bread again and again and again as well as other recipes. I would have loved to have not had to buy a somewhat pricey pot, but the taste of this bread made it worth it.

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