Essential Recipe: Simple Artisan Bread

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Jim Lahey’s bread recipe, featured in the NY Times in 2006, swept home kitchens and persists in popularity. For good reason. If you still haven’t tried no-knead artisan bread, if you still buy 99-cent grocery store French bread, you really must give this recipe a shot.

If you take both the electricity to run the oven and the gas to go to the grocery store out of the equation (I wouldn’t know how to calculate either), this bread costs approximately $.25-$.30 making even a $.99 loaf look expensive. Not to mention this homemade bread will make than loaf taste like cardboard.

And it is easy. I promise.

The recipe at NYT is thorough, and there are even a few YouTube demonstrations available. Mark Bittman even has a quick version.

Want to bake great bread? Relax. No, really. This recipe will help you experiment with all aspects of baking and give the perfect loaf.

My hint, after years of making this bread? Relax. You can hardly mess it up. Let it sit for 4 hours. Let it sit for 24 hours. Put it in the fridge at let it sit for 2 days.

Simple items already in your kitchen

Also, letting the dough do its second raise on a tea towel is a pain and a mess. I use either a flexible cutting board or a bread paddle. I’ve let it rise on the board for 30 minutes, 1 hour, 2 hours, 3 hours. It always turns out.

For baking I have used lidded Pyrex, regular stainless steel stovetop pots, a Dutch oven, and a lidded casserole dish. They all work. But the lidded surface is the key to the crusty crust.

I’ve baked it at 400, 425, 450, 475, and even 500.

Relax. Experiment. Just go with what makes it convenient. Homemade bread is the perfect accompaniment to soups, beans, pastas, and grilled meats. Homemade bread impresses and gratifies guests. Homemade bread makes your house smell amazing.

There are few actions you will ever take that have more of the stuff of history in them. A woman with her sleeves rolled up and flour on her hands is one of the most gorgeous stabilities in the world. Don’t let your family miss the sight. Robert Farrar Capon

Learn how simple bread-making can be!

Fresh homemade bread is more of an art than a science. This one-page printable shows you how to approach the process artistically so you can have delicious, reliable bread every time - by hand or machine, whole wheat or white!

  1. Deb
    | Reply

    I followed the links for the pots in which to bake the bread. They were different sizes. Is there a particular size which works better? 2 quart? 6 quart? I know you could make varying sizes of loaves depending on the amount of dough and the size of pan. Do you have suggestions? Thanks!

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