Sunday, February 22, 2015

EASY No-Knead Crusty Bread

Can you tell from this blog that I am NOT a baker? It might be hard to recognize, but my best recipes tend to be dinner recipes, or drinks. Because that's what I can do pretty well on a regular basis. Honestly, baking scares me.


Why? Because baking = chemistry. And guess what necessary high school class Ashley ended up not taking? Yep. Chem. Here's the short story: I went to a TINY school in New England. This meant we didn't have very many "fun" classes. When I decided I wanted to go to Art school, I decided I needed to take an extra year of art to build my portfolio. Unfortunately, the only art class was opposite chem. I was told I totally could take chem senior year... until senior year happened and chem was opposite gym. That's right, chem was not a graduation requirement, but gym class was.


Luckily, my college didn't require I take chem. Even more luckily, one of my best friends, John, was a baking fanatic and was able to teach me the basics. For a while John and I met weekly for Foodie Friends Night where he'd make the baking portion of the meal--everything from bread to cakes to cookies--and I'd make the rest. One day I got a call from John at 4am with a serious plan to open our own bakery/restaurant. If we both weren't drowning in student debt, I may have joined.

Our baking nights are one of the things I miss most about New England. John's bread skills are way more advanced than this super easy recipe, but it does the trick.


With a little planning ahead I can whip this up for dinner. The slices are narrow, so they make excellent dinner bread slathered with butter, or great cafe sandwiches.

If I can make this, so can you!

Easy, No-Knead Crusty Bread
  • 1 1/2 cups warm water
  • 2 1/4 tsp yeast (1 package)
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 3 1/4 cups bread flour or all-purpose flour
  • 1 egg, whisked
  • Herbs or mix-ins (I like using roasted garlic!)
  • cornmeal for dusting stone

-In a stand mixer with a dough hook attachment (or just a bowl + spoon + elbow grease) combine water, yeast, and salt and stir until combined. Wait about 10 minutes, until mixture has begun to froth. This is how you'll know the yeast is "proofed" and ready to go!

-Add the flour and gently stir until incorporated. Add in any herbs or mix-ins you'd like. Mix on low speed until dough is smooth and elastic.

-Place a clean dishtowel or plastic wrap over the bowl and set in a warm spot for 2 hours. I like to set the oven to 200 degrees, then turn it off and put the bowl in there.

-Pre-heat oven to 450 F. Place your bread cooking pan of choice (pizza stone is preferred, but I do fine with a silicone baking mat on a cookie sheet.  

-Add 2 cups of water in an oven-safe dish and position in the bottom rack of the oven. The steam from the water will help ensure a crispy, crusty crust!

-Gently form dough into a ball (or any other shape you desire!) and brush with the egg if you'd like a shiny crust. Make two or three shallow slices on top of the bread.

-Sprinkle your baking sheet with corn meal and set the dough ball on top. Bake for 30 minutes, or until crust is golden brown.

18 comments:

  1. NK bread is terrific - look at those big holes and airy crumb! Try the overnight version, with some some beer in the batter, baked in a covered and heated Dutch oven.

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  2. Gorgeous!! I love making homemade bread and this looks so great!

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  3. I'm always amazed at what schools deem is required. We had to take gym our freshman year -- if I had to fit it in my senior year, I would've had to take an extra class in the morning. Yup, my school had the option of taking "extra" classes (which I did one year <-- nerd). I love baking bread, but despite the fact that 95% of my coworkers are chemists, chemistry is not my fav. But warm, crusty bread is always worth it.

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  4. Oh yeah, I am going to definitely give this a try. I am not good a breadery. (new term!). I'll let you know how it turns out!

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  5. Hey Ashley, this looks beautiful! Although I haven't made bread in a while because my bf is coeliac and can't take anything with gluten!

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    1. I actually have a really awesome gluten free beer bread recipe (using gluten free beer!) that I photographed for the blog and never posted! It came out really fluffy, almost like sandwich bread. I'll have to find the pictures or re-do the recipe and blog about it soon, I go through periods of eliminating gluten and it's a really useful recipe to have!

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  6. Ashley,
    My daughter is halfway through her freshman year of high school and is DONE DONE DONE with PE! She took it in the summer before school started, to Health online, and finished up her PE requirement with a second class during her Fall semester. No more changing in the middle of the school day!
    This bread looks so easy! I'd say yeast is my B**** since pizza dough and I get along really well, but I rarely bake anything using my oven. In the summer it's too hot to turn on the oven, in the winter it's too cold in the kitchen, so I mostly just toss everything into the bread machine and call it good.
    Thanks!

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  7. Yup this is going to be made! I am a bread girl! I love anything with bread, but homemade bread is the best of all.

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  8. We love crusty bread, this looks delicious!

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  9. what a great bread recipe! you're totally a baker :) looks SO tasty!

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  10. I'm trying to overcome my fear of baking too!

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  11. I would never guess you were not a baker! That bread looks amazing!

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  12. I love no knead bread. It's amazing how easy it is, and how crusty it is too! Great shots.

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  13. Random fact: I so am not a science/chemistry person but I LOVE baking! ...weird

    and this bread looks sooo incredibly perfect and now all I want is a slice slathered in butter!

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