No knead crusty artisan bread

There is nothing more satisfying than fresh homemade bread with a thick crisp crust that flakes when sliced. During the lockdown, I’ve been making my own bread with fresh yeast (the only type of yeast I could find and glad I found it!) and light whole wheat flour called “farine bise“. This is a typical Swiss flour that makes a great crusty artisan “Pain Bis”. The flour is available in Swiss supermarkets. However, if you cannot find it, you can substitute with another light whole wheat flour recommended for bread making.

Dense and fluffy on the inside and crispy on the outside, this bread comes together like magic. Great with homemade soups, wine & cheese, as breakfast toast or with any meal, it’s my go-to homemade bread.

It also looks like one of those loaves that you buy at a high-end bakery. The best part is that it is so simple to make. It only takes 3 hours to rise, as opposed to 8 hours, and it bakes inside a hot oven-proof pot with a lid or a Dutch oven.

Fresh yeast

If you’ve never made bread before, have no fear. This recipe calls for basic ingredients and there are no exhaustive lists of ingredients or procedures to follow. There is also no kneading involved. If you are new to bread making, I took some pictures to guide you through the process. I also highlighted six important tips that will give the best quality homemade bread.

No knead crusty bread

No knead crusty bread

Six tips for the best no knead bread

1. It is better to weigh the flour with a food scale (highly recommended). Different types and brands of flour yield different weights / measurements. I use a simple flat digital food scale.

2. Aerate, fluff and move the flour around by mixing it well with a fork prior to weighing or measuring it. Flour settles heavily at the bottom of a container or bag and if you don’t move it around, you will use too much flour and your bread won’t be good.

3. Use hand-hot tap water (125-130°F/ 51 – 54°C). DO NOT USE BOILED WATER.  Hot tap water that isn’t beyond 130°F/54°C won’t kill the yeast and it’s the hot water that will allow your dough to rise in 3 hours instead of 8 or 12. If using warm or tepid water, your dough will need at least 5 more hours to rise.

4. Make sure your oven (and pot/ lid) are heated properly. The oven needs to reach the 230°C / 450°F target before baking.

5. Allow the bread to cool entirely before slicing it. After it is removed from the oven, the bread continues to cook, so let it be.

6. Don’t use more yeast than required. Never use expired yeast and always store fresh yeast in the fridge with left over yeast tightly wrapped in foil with expiry date indicated.

For more tips, check out what Jenny Jones recommends at: Jenny Can Cook.com

No knead crusty bread

No knead crusty artisan bread 

Makes one big boule / round bread.

Equipment: one cast iron pot with lid (this is what I use) or a dutch oven or any kind of oven-proof pot with lid.

INGREDIENTS

  • 500 grams (4 cups) “farine bise* (can sub. with a 50% whole-wheat or white whole wheat flour)
  • 1½  teaspoons salt
  • 10-12 grams fresh yeast, crumbled (I used ¼ of a 42 gram yeast cube)
  • 1¾ cups hand-hot tap water, 125-130°F/ 51-54°C (not boiled water)
  • 2 tablespoons (tbsps) good quality extra virgin olive oil
  • Optional: additional 1 to 2 tbsps of hot water, if dough is dry
  • A small amount of flour for shaping the dough

Farine bise flour is a light whole wheat flour that contains part of the hull of the wheat grain. It is widely available in Switzerland. Below, you can compare it to white all purpose flour and whole wheat flour. Note that 500 grams of this flour yielded 4 cups, but make sure to weigh your flour in grams (or an equivalent unit of weight), instead of relying solely on cup measurement.

PROCEDURE

1. Make the dough: In a bowl hand mix the flour (about 4 cups of it) with a fork. Make sure to mix it well in order to aerate and fluff the flour as this will make a difference in the texture of the bread. After, weigh the flour (you should have 500 grams exactly, so add or take some out). Transfer the flour into a big bowl. Add the salt and mix with fork. Set aside.

In a separate smaller bowl, add the crumbled yeast and add the hot water. Whisk with a fork until the yeast dissolves. Add the olive oil and mix again.

Pour the liquid into the flour and with a spatula mix, turn and fold until you obtain an irregular dough ball that is smooth, thick, sticky and moist. If the dough is on the dry side, mix in an additional 1 to 2 tablespoons of hot water.

No knead bread dough

2. Let the dough sit: Cover the bowl with a clean tea towel (no plastic wrap please) and then cover again with a lid that fits the bowl. You can use any pot lid that you have. Set aside for 3 hours in a dry place at room temperature. The dough will expand and look bubbly. See below.

No knead bread dough

3. Preheat oven and cast iron pot with lid: Preheat oven to 230°C / 450°F.  Place the cast iron pot with lid in the oven while it is preheating.

4. Shape the dough: While the oven is preheating, sprinkle some flour on a hard surface. With a regular metal spatula or a bread spatula, release and lift the edges of the risen dough. Transfer onto the floured surface. Sprinkle a bit of flour on the surface of the dough and with your hands, gently fold and turn the dough over several times until a smooth soft ball forms. DO NOT KNEAD THE DOUGH. Transfer the dough ball onto a piece of parchment paper and then into a clean dry bowl and loosely cover with a tea towel while the oven is preheating.

No knead bread dough

No knead bread dough

No knead bread dough

No knead bread dough

No knead bread dough

No knead bread dough

5. Bake the bread:  Remove the cast iron pot and lid. This is extremely hot, so be careful. Lift the dough ball with the parchment paper kept underneath and place the dough ball into the hot pot. Put the hot lid on and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the lid and bake for an additional 10-15 minutes or until the crust is golden-crispy brown.

6. Let the bread cool:  Remove from the oven and place the bread on a cooling rack. It will continue to cook outside the oven, so let it cool completely before slicing it (this may take 45 minutes to one hour). If you slice it too early, your bread will not be fully cooked inside (this happened to me, so don’t do that!).

Wrap leftover bread in a clean tea towel. Keeps for several days in a dry place at room temperature.

Enjoy!

Fresh yeast image: Demystifying Yeast by Marian Bull, Food52.
Julie Zimmer

Julie has extensive experience in nursing practice and education in a wide range of fields from intensive/coronary care, to medical-surgical to community and public health. Julie has Bachelor Degrees in Psychology and Nursing, and a Master’s Degree in Community Health Nursing Education. She has taught in faculties of nursing and in various communities in Toronto, Canada and in Geneva, Switzerland, and is a consultant to the International Council of Nurses (ICN). Julie also has years of experience teaching English as a foreign language (EFL) in addition to coordinating an English department in a Swiss private school.

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