Easy Crusty Bread

Easy Crusty Bread Recipe Needed!

To me, bread is France, France is bread, and thinking about it can even make me feel a tad homesick actually. Getting nice freshly baked bread seems like such a fuss in North London, whereas going to the bakery for a baguette was just part of my daily routine when I lived in France.

I love everything about fresh bread: the smell, the crunchy crust, the soft, warm middle, and the endless possibilities of what to eat with it… A piece of square bread is good for the occasional toasted sandwich, but there is nothing like nice, crusty bread to mop up gravy, for butter and honey on toast or for a sandwich that feels like a treat. Oh gosh, I could live on baguette and smelly French cheese… Sorry, digression… Focus, Mel, focus!

I did attempt making bread once when I was a teenager, and after kneading for what felt like hours, the loaf did not rise, then did not cook properly and I ended up with a charred, inedible lump of dough. My bread-making enthusiasm went straight in the bin with that loaf!

Easy Crusty Bread with watermark

Could I Make My Own Bread?

Since then, I had never even considered making my own bread again, until I stumbled upon a post on Janet’s blog, “Simply so Good”. The recipe only included 3 ingredients and tap water, a promise you would not have to knead and an unbelievably easy process. I was really sceptical… It really looked too easy to be true, but I decided to have a go.

What was the worst thing that could happen? We would not have yummy bread that night? Well, I had not had any since I had last gone to France so I thought having a go would not hurt, and it was so simple my four-year-old boy made the dough all by himself. I just had to supervise and give it a last stir.

It worked! The bread turned out just like it was supposed to! I have been making bread a couple of times a week ever since, after I adapted the recipe slightly to make it work for us. I have also been taking yummy loaves in pretty tea towels as presents when going to my friends’ houses for lunch.

How to Make Easy Crusty Bread

Right, time to move on to serious business: how to make this delicious yet easy crusty bread. Here is what you will need:

2 cups (300g) plain flour,

1 cup (150g) self-raising flour

½ tsp (1g) yeast (“easy bake” or “fast action”)

1 ½ tsp (10g) salt 1 ½ cups (350 ml) water

ingredients with watermark

First, get your ingredients together, and mix all the dry stuff in a large bowl with a spatula (I normally use a 2L bowl).

Add the water, and mix for a couple of minutes with your spatula.

I know, it looks like a little mount of gooey matter, and that is just the way it is supposed to look.

dough with watermark

Cover your bowl with cling film and leave to rise in a warm (not hot) place for 12 to 24 hours. I normally get the dough ready around 9 p.m. and cook the bread either at 12 p.m. for lunch the next day or around 6 p.m. for dinner.

raiseddough with watermark

When you are ready to cook your bread, preheat your oven to gas mark 8 (230 degrees Celsius / 450 degrees Fahrenheit). Using your spatula, drop the sticky dough on a heavily floured work surface (when I have people coming over and want to keep my kitchen clean, I use baking paper which I can throw away with the leftover flour). Shape the dough in a sort of ball and roll it in the flour so it gets covered all around.

Easy Crusty Bread in Le Creuset

Place your cooking dish (I use my cast iron Le Creuset casserole dish with the lid on or a loaf tin with foil on top) in the oven to warm for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, make sure the dough is nicely covered in flour all around and plop it in your chosen cooking dish (no grease needed, just put some flour in the bottom of your dish if you are worried the bread might stick). Cook for 30 minutes with the lid (or foil) on, and a further 15 minutes uncovered, and ta-da! You have delicious home-made bread…

Now good luck to resist the temptation to eat it as it is on your cooling rack…

bread with watermark

Alternatives: I really like a seeded loaf, and would normally add anything I have in the cupboard without measuring, from poppy seeds to sesame seeds, sunflower seeds to pumpkin seeds. Today I put two teaspoons each of poppy seeds and sesame seeds in my bread mix. I sometimes add a couple of tablespoons of pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds. I also think half a cup of walnuts makes bread that goes amazingly well with goat’s cheese. You can add anything you fancy to flavour your bread, from seeds to nuts to raisins to cheese to herbs. Just mix it with the flour, salt and yeast before adding the water.

Easy Crusty Bread in a Loaf Tin

If you use a loaf tin rather than a cast iron casserole dish, you will only need plain flour and your bread will raise beautifully.

Crusty Bread in Loaf Tin

For an even simpler version in a Pyrex bowl, check my Easiest Bread Ever Recipe. If you are into seeded loaves, this one will be perfect for you! Trying to cut down on white flour? Check my healthy loaf recipe.

www.lecoindemel.com 29 March15

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Easy Crusty Bread

Prep Time 3 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 cups plain flour (300g)
  • 1 cup self-raising flour (150g)
  • ½ tsp yeast (“easy bake” / “fast action”) (1g)
  • 1 ½ tsp salt (10g)
  • 1 ½ cups water (355 ml)

Instructions

  1. Mix all the dry ingredients in a 2L bowl, then add the water, and mix for a couple of minutes with your spatula.
  2. Cover your bowl with cling film and leave to rise in a warm place for 12 to 24 hours.
  3. When you are ready to cook your bread, preheat your oven to gas mark 8 (230 degrees Celsius / 450 degrees Fahrenheit). Using your spatula, drop the sticky dough on a heavily floured work surface. Shape the dough in a ball and roll it in the flour so it gets covered all around.
  4. Place your cooking dish in the oven to warm for 30 minutes.
  5. After 30 minutes, make sure the dough is nicely covered in flour all around and transfer it to your cooking dish (no grease needed, just put some flour in the bottom of your dish if you are worried the bread might stick).
  6. Cook for 30 minutes with the lid (or foil) on, and a further 15 minutes uncovered, then transfer onto a cooling rack.

Recipe Notes

Tip: You can add nuts, raisins, cheese or seeds (e.g. poppy, sesame, sunflower, pumpkin) to your dry mix before adding the water.

Are you considering giving this easy crusty bread recipe a go? If you do, tag me on social media so I can see your yummy bread!

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Comments

  1. 05/03/2015 / 4:19 pm

    Your loaf looks like it comes from my local boulangerie, it’s so beautifully professional! And you take lovely food photos too, but I find it hard to believe it’s so easy. I think you must be a baking genius! I bet it tastes fabulous. What would you suggest I use in France to try this out? As you surely know SR flour isn’t really a thing here. Just normal flour and a sachet of levure boulangère? I’m definitely going to try it out but I’m quite convinced mine won’t look like yours. Thanks for linking up to #AllAboutFrance Mel!

    • 05/03/2015 / 4:52 pm

      I promise you it works, Phoebe!

      When I make the bread in France, I use Alsa levure de boulangerie express (from any supermarket) and only plain flour. Use a loaf tin. You might have to tweak cooking times depending on your oven (mine is gas / my mum uses electric and she needs slightly longer, my best friend uses a slightly lower temperature with fan oven).

      I have a couple more recipes like that (bit more healthy / less white flour), just type ‘bread’ in the search bar.

  2. 05/03/2015 / 4:52 pm

    Finally, a bread recipe for me! I have never given much thought to making my own bread fearing that it would be a total failure. There may be hope, after all. It won’t quite be like getting a fresh baguette in Paris every day, but I can dream.

    • 05/03/2015 / 5:02 pm

      To be perfectly honest, it would not even cross my mind to make my own bread if I lived in France, but I was getting sick of eating square bread that contained way too much sugar to taste nice or baguettes that were more crumbly than crusty. This bread recipe has allowed me to buy nice, strong French cheese and really enjoy it!

  3. 05/03/2015 / 8:38 pm

    That looks very yummy, I agree about bread and France, I have to have some salted butter from Brittany on my French bread. I will have to give this recipe at try!

    • 05/03/2015 / 8:46 pm

      Ooooh, do you mean the one with fleur de sel in? I could have a whole baguette with that (seriously!).

  4. 16/03/2015 / 12:08 pm

    I can make soft bread but have never quite mastered crusty. I’m going to give this a go! #AllAbout France

  5. 29/03/2015 / 8:25 pm

    I have been meaning to make this for AGES. It works! It really works! Oh wow! OK, I’m going to do it!

    • 29/03/2015 / 8:27 pm

      You will love it, Nagi! I have three or four different versions on the blog, just type ‘bread’ in the search bar.

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