Back when I first started this blog I shared a recipe. A bread recipe that’s perfectly divine. Crusty on the outside, soft on the inside. A bread that resembles fresh bakery bread in both texture and taste. Sounds perfect, right? Oh, it is, but one issue.
One slight issue.
That divine bread goes against much of how we eat today. I’ve debated taking down that recipe because it’s both lacking in beauty (you can view the embarrassing post here and be grateful my blogging and photography skills have improved slightly) and wholeness.
What could possibly be so wrong about an oh, so perfect bread?
First, it’s made with white flour. I know, sinful!
Second, it isn’t soaked or sprouted.
It’s just one big ol’ loaf of white, crusty fresh-from-the-oven bread.
Now, I realize the outcry a white bread recipe may elicit from my real foodie, purist friends. I know, I struggle with the idea of a huge white loaf of delicious bread too, but I’ve learned to embrace this white loaf of pure heaven. Before you hit that exist button, please let me explain.
I truly believe real homemade, from scratch food is about bringing family together in the kitchen and the garden and celebrating the time spent preparing food made with basic ingredients. I believe there is a culture we build behind food when we eat in this way. Today, it seems so many of us are so focused on what we shouldn’t be eating, that we lose sight of the goodness we can be preparing in our kitchens and the culture of homemade food we can cultivate with our children. It’s important to eat for nourishment and nutrition, but it’s also important to eat with the idea of not making homemade food into a “good” and “bad” laundry list. Dissecting every last morsel. Homemade food is meant to be prepared with love and celebration. With culture and tradition and the idea of bringing delicious ingredients together to be enjoyed.
With that said, this bread is one that cultivates a culture of tradition in my kitchen. The earthiness of this bread, the time spent preparing it, and the nourishing soups and big salads we enjoy it with will forever be etched in my children’s memories. How every fall the big, well-loved dutch oven is dusted off and the white flour bag is broken open. That my dear readers, is what real, homemade food is meant to be. A joyful memory, a tradition, not based on fear, but instead joy and delight.
So, while I truly strive to soak and sprout most of our grains and use whole sources such as whole wheat, there are times a lovely loaf of crusty white bread just must be made, broken at the table, and slathered with fresh butter.
I’ve been asked if this bread can be made with 100% whole wheat. Here’s my answer, “NO“.
While it can be done, you will be sacrificing so much in the taste and texture departments. Truly the white flour makes all the difference. This isn’t sandwich bread. We don’t consume this crusty bread every day. It’s a treat and homemade treats are meant to be enjoyed and savored. A treat that’s made in our kitchen, by our hands, creating a love for fresh, scratch cooking. And a family tradition and culture of made-with-love food.
If you don’t agree, it’s okay. I’ll be back to posting soaked, sprouted, and all sorts of other goodness later. So sit tight while I tend to some delicious white, crusty goodness.
Homemade Crusty Bakery Bread
- 3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
- 1 3/4 tsp salt
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 1/2 cup fresh herbs grated sharp cheese, dried fruit, whatever your heart’s desire and your tummy’s mood (optional, but highly encouraged)
- Mix: In a large bowl or your Kitchen-Aid Mixer, combine the flour, salt, and yeast. Whisk the ingredients together. If you are using any herbs (or any other additions) add them to the flour mixture and whisk. Now, add the water. With the dough hook or a trusty wooden spoon, mix all the ingredients together until the dough is wet and sticky. You are not looking for a perfectly formed ball of dough. Wet and sticky are the key words. Cover your dough with a towel and let sit for 12-18 hours on the counter.
- Form: After 12 hours, preheat the oven to 450°. Once the oven is heated place your dutch oven in the nice, hot oven and allow it to sit for 30 minutes. While you are waiting remove the towel and scoop the dough onto a floured surface. Form the dough into a ball, cover it with a towel, and allow to rise while the dutch oven gets nice and toasty. I often double this recipe to share with neighbors or a friend. It really pays off to be the neighbor of a real foodie, urban homesteader. Free fresh eggs, fresh herbs and veggies, and fresh bread.
- Bake: Once the dutch oven is toasty and steamy (30 minutes), carefully remove the top and place your bread in the pot. Place the top back on and close the oven door. Crusty, bakery bread is about to happen! Cook the loaf for 30 minutes, covered. After 30 minutes, remove the top and allow to cook uncovered for 15 minutes.
Tools I Use
I use a Kitchen-Aid Mixer fitted with the bread hook attachment to make this bread, however, you don’t need one. You can simply use a wooden spoon and your bread will still come out just as perfect!
The result? Crusty on the outside and soft on the inside, homemade bakery-like bread.
This bread is perfect to serve with a big bowl of fall soup, a big salad, hollowed out as a soup/bread bowl, or smothered with freshly whipped garlic-herb butter.
Later this week I will be sharing my favorite whipped garlic-herb butter. The perfect accompaniment to this rustic, fresh bread.
Hi Kristin! I really dig this recipe you’ve posted… Reminds me of my mom and the strange concoctions she’s used to get me to enjoy baking 🙂
I do have a question (and it may be a really dumb one since I’ve never really attempted bread before): no one else in my house eats white bread (weirdos, right??) but they do eat sourdough bread. Would it be possible to make this kind of bread as sourdough instead of white?
Thank you muchly, hope to hear back soon! ^^
Hey Chihiro, This recipe method will work great for sourdough. Here’s a good tutorial on how to use this method with sourdough: http://www.theclevercarrot.com/2014/01/sourdough-bread-a-beginners-guide/.
Hey there, this bread recipe looks so good! I’m wondering if you are supposed to grease the dutch oven (or soup pot in my case) first? Doesn’t say in the recipe, but I would think that the dough would stick to the pot. Thanks
Hey Danya, No greasing is needed if you’re using a cast iron enamel Dutch Oven.
Okay awesome! Thanks so much for taking time to explain that to me! Now I’ve got a much better idea of how to go about shaping that sticky dough 🙂
Hi, I have made this bread a couple of times and my family is loving fresh crusty loaves (since we usually only do whole grain breads) and it is pretty awesome to be able to bake something like this at home in my Le Crueset! My question is that about the shaping the dough into a smooth round ball step-exactly how am I suppose to do that? May sound silly but each time I have made the bread I’m pretty much baking a blob of dough that is not shaped into a ball at all because I’m not sure how to form it and worried I will ruin the texture of the bread if I overhandel it…and because of this my end result is just not as tall and round as it should be :(, I would really appreciate your advice, thank you!
Hey Stefany, I completely understand the ball issue (and I’m so glad your family loves the bread!). It’s a bit tricky, but I generally pull the dough away from the mixer, form it into the best ball I can with my hands, then pull the dough under the ball under I have a nice smooth ball on top. I let the dough rest on a silpat floured mat with a little flour dusted on top of the loaf while the Dutch oven warms, and then I carefully place the ball inside (sometimes this requires a bit of tucking the dough to get a nice ball again). I hope that helps. I’ve over-handled this dough and it still turns into a lovely loaf, so no worries about over-handling. 🙂
Can I mix everything in the bread machine, then remove to follow cooking direction as noted herein? Thanks.
Hey Natasha, I think that would work. Let me know how it goes.
Could this be baked on a cookie sheet in a long loaf shape? Or would that sacrifice texture? Just wondering as I would love to bake it like that to make garlic bread and the oblong shape I think lends itself better
Hey Jenn, The crusty outside is achieved via steam in the Dutch Oven. I think you could place a baking dish with water on a bottom shelf of the oven and a hot baking stone on the shelf above and preheat the oven as you would for the Dutch Oven. Then, you would place the long bread on the hot baking stone and bake. I believe this will achieve a crusty bread similar to this recipe.
Do you think this could be done with a 4 qt dutch oven?
Hey Kat, Definitely! I have a 3 qt, 4 qt, and 6 qt. I just tested out the 3 and 4 last week (6 was dirty ;)) and the bread turned out perfectly! As long as the 4qt is a standard dutch oven, it should work perfectly.
I think I will try this with the King Arthur brand of organic whole wheat white flour- hopefully it will be a healthier compromise 🙂
Sounds yummy, Amber. It will probably bit a more dense, but still delicious.
I’ve made this bread many times with whole wheat and spelt. Both work amazingly well. Still just as tasty. I think letting it sit overnight makes it fluffy and light, no matter what the (gluten)flour.
I don’t really like the texture of the wheat with this loaf, but it’s certainly doable. Glad to hear you like it that way. It’s a favorite in our house.
My favorite is just plain bread like this. Except I only like it made with bread flour, which is different flavor than all purpose. Such good flavor and smell. YUM
Yum! Nothing like warm, fresh bread.
It’s ready and set, tomorrow morning I’ll be baking bread for the first time. I’m so exited!!!
Yay! It’s so yummy! You’ll be so addicted 😉
I made your bread. it came out beautiful. thanks for sharing.
Thank you for sharing. So glad it came out well. It’s a huge favorite in our house 🙂
Made the bread and filled it with sweet potato soup…they both turned out great!
Yum! That sounds fantastic!!
Sometimes you just gotta enjoy a little crusty-bakery-bread! Mmmmm…..
Thank you so much for linking up to the Thanksgiving round up on Homestead Bloggers Network. 🙂
I am asking every foodie I run across if you know how to make sourdough bread with Coconut flour.
Sorry I don’t. I don’t make much with coconut flour.
At http://www.mydailysourdoughbread.com she makes sourdough bread with millet flour-so cool and she has a video.
That’s awesome. I love following her account on IG–such gorgeous bread creations.
I love this bread. I have a very similar recipe I have been making for the past couple of years, and made the same way. I bake mine in an old cast iron dutch that belonged to my mamaw. Probably one of the most versatile and simplest bread recipes I have ever come across in 20 + years. Good stuff!
Thank you, Tina, for sharing. It really is so delicious! I love the tradition you have behind making yours using your cast iron dutch oven from your mamaw!
hi, I only have spelt (dinkel) flour. Could I use that?
Is the dough after that long a rise not even more wet then before? Or do you flour just the outside to form a ball and the inside stays as wet?
never used a pot to bake bread in, hope I’m right in what kind of pot it is you linked too (I’m from Belgium…)
Hi Vera, You can try spelt flour. It might be a bit dense (like whole wheat), but it will probably still be delicious. After the first rise the dough is wet and very sticky, although easier to handle than when it was first mixed together. It will easily form into a ball and you can use a floured surface and hands if you need. That’s the correct pot. Any Dutch Oven type pot will work beautifully.
This bread looks amazing. It will go perfect with the soup I am planning for tomorrow. However, I do not have a ditch oven. Do you think it would work ok in an oven proof sauce pan or stockpot?
A stockpot would work perfectly! I’ve used my stockpot to make this bread many time.
you did a great job making and baking that bread wow girl give yrself big pat on the back yes it is white bread once in awhile i make white bread mostly whole wheat and little bit of gluten free here in canada gluten bread is so expensive just to buy the products to make one loaf my loafs are bigger yes thinly sliced good luck
Kristen, thanks so much for posting this wonderful bread recipe. I, like you, do my best to keep my food whole, non-processed and organic. Sometimes it’s nice though to have something like this wonderful bread – reminds me of the bread that my Grandmother used to make every week. I’m going to make some to eat with the homemade butter I made a couple of weeks ago with the instructions you guys posted. Blessings.
Thank you, Jonnie. I love that it reminds you of the bread your Grandmother used to make. That’s the wonderful culture and tradition of food I just love to hear about! This bread really is so delicious. Can’t wait for you to try it and the homemade butter will be so perfect on a big warm slice.
Are you sure it’s only 1/2 TEASPOON yeast?? In any bread making I’ve done, that does not seem like the right ratio to the rest of the ingredients?
Hey Valerie, Yes, 1/2 teaspoon :). I know, it seems a bit off, but it works. You’re welcome to increase the yeast to 1 teaspoon if you’d like.
That looooong fermentation develops a lot of flavor without a lot of yeast 😀
Thanks, Cheryl! 🙂