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Crusty Homemade Bread

Crackling homemade bread makes an average day extraordinary. Enjoy this beautiful crusty bread recipe as is, or stir in a few favorites like cheese, garlic, herbs and dried fruits. —Megumi Garcia, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
  • Total Time
    Prep: 20 min. + rising Bake: 50 min.
  • Makes
    1 loaf (16 slices)

Ingredients

  • 1-1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 1-3/4 cups warm water (110° to 115°)
  • 3-1/2 cups plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour, divided
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon cornmeal or additional flour

Directions

  • In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Using a rubber spatula, stir in 3-1/2 cups flour and salt to form a soft, sticky dough. Do not knead. Cover and let rise at room temperature 1 hour.
  • Stir down dough (dough will be sticky). Turn onto a floured surface; with floured hands pat into a 9-in. square. Fold square into thirds, forming a 9x3-in. rectangle. Fold rectangle into thirds, forming a 3-in. square. Place in a large greased bowl, turning once to grease the top. Cover and let rise at room temperature until almost doubled, about 1 hour.
  • Punch down dough and repeat folding process. Return dough to bowl; refrigerate, covered, overnight.
  • Grease the bottom of a disposable foil roasting pan with sides at least 4 in. high; dust pan with cornmeal. Turn dough onto a floured surface. Knead gently 6-8 times; shape into a 6-in. round loaf. Place into prepared pan; dust top with remaining 1 tablespoon flour. Cover pan and let rise at room temperature until dough expands to a 7-1/2-in. loaf, about 1-1/4 hours.
  • Preheat oven to 500°. Using a sharp knife, make a slash (1/4 in. deep) across top of loaf. Cover pan tightly with foil. Bake on lowest oven rack 25 minutes.
  • Reduce oven setting to 450°. Remove foil; bake bread until deep golden brown, 25-30 minutes. Remove loaf to a wire rack to cool.

Crusty Homemade Bread Tips

Why do bakers put flour on top of bread?

Bakers dust the tops of bread loaves with flour before scoring to give the bread a rustic appearance.

Why does steam make bread crusty?

Once steam hits the outer layer (crust), the starches on the surface gelatinize. When mixed with the oven's heat, this causes the outer layer to harden and give it that crackly consistency.

What do you eat with crusty bread?

This bread is so delicious on its own with a heavy smear of butter, jam or honey. But it’s also perfect for dunking in your favorite sauce or soup (like creamy white chili) or marinara sauce. A fresh green salad is also a nice accompaniment.

How can you tell when bread is finished baking?

The traditional method to test the doneness of bread is to tap on the bottom of the loaf and listen for a hollow thump. But if you are unsure, double-check the internal temperature of the loaf; it should be 200° to 210°. Don't have a foil pan for baking? A Dutch oven works great as well, but you should halve the recipe.

What temperature should you proof yeast at?

To proof yeast, it should be proved and dissolved in warm water with a temperature between 110-115°.

What variations could you make of this crusty bread recipe?

You can make cheddar cheese, rustic cranberry and orange or garlic and oregano variations. After refrigerating dough overnight, knead in 4 ounces diced sharp cheddar cheese, 1 cup dried cranberries and 4 teaspoons grated orange peel or 1/2 cup liquified garlic (to liquify, just add 1/4 cup 2% milk, microwave on high for 45 seconds and discard milk) and 2 tablespoons minced fresh oregano before shaping.
Nutrition Facts
1 slice (calculated without add-ins): 105 calories, 0 fat (0 saturated fat), 0 cholesterol, 296mg sodium, 22g carbohydrate (0 sugars, 1g fiber), 3g protein.

Reviews

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Average Rating:
  • Kimberly
    Oct 29, 2020

    Have made this twice - Love it so much and have shared it too.

  • David
    Oct 26, 2020

    Perfect! The high side disposable aluminum pan is ideal to seal for initial bake temperature. Just because they are labeled disposable, wash and reuse- little effort required and even more environmentally friendly than recycling.

  • Deborah
    Oct 19, 2020

    Easiest bread I have ever made, you just need time for the different rises. Followed recipe except for final bake at 450 for 20 min. with foil loosely on top for the first 5 min of those 20. Then removed foil and continued to bake for 15 more. Absolute perfection. Crusty outside, soft inside.

  • Lynda
    Oct 19, 2020

    No comment left

  • Diana
    Oct 17, 2020

    No comment left

  • Bruny
    Aug 23, 2020

    Excellent recipe. Will definitely make it again.

  • Barb
    Jul 24, 2020

    Loved this recipe. Will make it again.

  • Suzy
    Jun 13, 2020

    This is my husband’s favorite bread. I just started baking bread and have tried several different types of bread recipes but this is the best. It comes out beautifully each time, crunchy crust and soft inside. I use instant yeast and mix it in with the flour and salt and then add the warm water. It raises nicely and seems almost fluffier than with active dry yeast. I accidentally ordered 2 lbs of instant yeast and didn’t want to waste it so I gave it a try. No problems. I otherwise follow the recipe exactly as stated and bread comes out perfectly exact time. This has replaced store bought bread and I bake for my friends, etc.

  • Catherine
    May 12, 2020

    No comment left

  • Heather
    Apr 28, 2020

    Amazing and so easy!!!!!