Baker Bettie

4 Ingredient Easy Bread Recipe

This easy bread recipe produces a beautiful rustic loaf that is nice and crusty on the outside and soft and chewy on the inside. Follow my simple video tutorial to find out how to make this 4 ingredient easy bread recipe! 

Easy Bread Recipe, Rustic Yeast Bread | Baker Bettie

Hello and welcome back to my baking with yeast series. Yesterday I kicked things off with a little informational post, Baking with Yeast 101. If you haven’t checked it out yet, it might be good to do so if you are uncomfortable with baking with yeast or even if you never have done it!

What I’m hoping for in this series is to ease you into baking with yeast so that you become confident enough to try more difficult recipes!

I want to start today with this super easy rustic bread. There really isn’t much to it. At it’s core, there are 4 ingredients: yeast, water, flour salt. That’s it. This type of bread is what we refer to as a lean bread which means there is no addition of fat into the actual dough. Lean breads become crusty on the outside when baked and are bit more chewy on the inside than breads that have the addition of fat which makes them more soft.

We will get to those breads that have some fat in them (ahem, cinnamon rolls) in this series, but lean breads are the best place to start in my opinion because they require the fewest ingredient.

I have had a lot of requests for baking tutorial videos with my posts. But I have had difficulty finding the time to shoot a video and I am not great in front of a camera so I tried something different today. I did a really quick rough video you can find at the end of the post of me making this bread so you can get a sense of what it looks like.

I would really love to hear what you think of it. If it is something you all find helpful I will continue to do them and hopefully make them a little better as I get more experience with it.

Easy Bread Recipe, Rustic Yeast Bread | Baker Bettie

Basic Process of Making a Lean Bread from Dry Yeast

1. Re-hydrate your yeast: Dry yeast has been processed in a way that removes all of the moisture from it which puts the yeast into a dormant state. In order to wake the yeast cells up so that they can begin feeding, you need to re-hydrate them. In lean bread the liquid used is warm water. Yeast love warm temperatures. you want your water to be about 105F- 110F. Consider that your body temperature is 98.6F, so you want water that is slightly warmer than body temperature.

Make sure that your water is not too hot! Starting at 120F, yeast will begin to die. You can use a cooking thermometer to check your water temperature if you are nervous about killing your yeast. The water will begin to get murky as the yeast wake up.

Easy Bread Recipe, Rustic Yeast Bread | Baker Bettie

2. Add your flour and salt (and other ingredients if using): Flour and salt and the only two other ingredients needed to make a lovely lean yeast bread. As I mentioned in my Baking with Yeast 101 post, salt can kill yeast in high ratios. I always recommend adding in your flour before your salt so that the ratio is diluted.

The salt will flavor your bread, but also keep the fermentation under control while your bread rises. I love to add in fresh herbs and garlic when making rustic breads, but these thing are absolutely optional.

3. Knead the bread (usually) and let it rise: Most all bread recipes call for some amount of time of kneading. Yes, there are no-knead recipes out there. In fact, I have one on my site that is one of my most popular recipes. But the process of kneading helps develop flavor, texture, and, color in the bread.

I also think that a beginning yeast bread baker should get their hands in there and feel the dough. It really does help you understand how gluten strands develop as you knead and I think it makes the whole process a lot more fun!

After the dough is kneaded it rests and rises. The yeast feeds on the starches in the flour and begins producing carbon dioxide which is what makes the bread rise.

Easy Bread Recipe, Rustic Yeast Bread | Baker Bettie

4. Dough is shaped, allowed to rise again, and baked: After the dough is shaped it is typically given time to rise again before going into the oven. Remember, yeast begins to die at 120F. Once the dough goes into the oven the yeast will rapidly give off some gas and will rise the dough a bit, but most of the rising is done before the dough goes into the oven.

That’s it! It really is pretty simple once you get in there and do it a time or two. Check out the video to see the whole process from start to finish (very sped up!) and let me know if that is helpful! And please ask me any questions you have about the basics of baking with yeast! I would love to address them!

4 Ingredient Bread

4 Ingredient Bread

Yield: 1 Loaf
Prep Time: 2 hours 15 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours 50 minutes

This easy bread recipe produces a beautiful rustic loaf that is nice and crusty on the outside and soft and chewy on the inside. Follow along with my simple video tutorial for step-by-step instructions. 

Ingredients

  • 1 package (1/4 ounce) active dry yeast or instant yeast (2 1/4 tsp if measuring from bulk yeast)
  • 1 1/2 cups warm water (water temp should be warm but not hot, about 105-110F)
  • 4 1/3 cup all-purpose flour (18.4 ounces or 520 grams)
  • 1 1/2 tsp Morton kosher salt
  • oil for greasing the bowl
  • 1 TBSP fresh rosemary, chopped (optional)
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced (optional)

Instructions

  1. In a large bowl, add your dry yeast and stir in your warm water. Let sit for about 2 minutes.
  2. Add in all of the flour and then the salt. If using, also add in the rosemary and garlic. Stir together until it forms a ball.
  3. Remove the dough from the bowl and knead on a clean work surface for about 5 minutes until smooth and elastic.
  4. In a clean bowl, add about 1 TBSP of oil of your choice (canola, vegetable, olive, etc...) or spray the bowl with cooking spray. Put your dough into the bowl and turn it over to coat both sides with oil.
  5. Cover the bowl with a towel and put in a warm place to rise. I like to put mine in my oven that is off. Allow to rise for about 1 hour, or until double in size.
  6. Gently push the air out of the dough with your fist. Lightly oil a cast iron skillet (I use a 10" skillet, but an 8" or 12" will also work. See notes) or other oven proof skillet. Place the bread dough into the oiled skillet and dust the top of the dough lightly with flour. Cover with a towel again and let rise for another hour or until doubled in size.
  7. Preheat your oven to 425F.
  8. Once the dough is doubled in size, slash the top of the dough a few times with a sharp knife.
  9. Bake for 35-40 minutes until the bread is a deep golden brown and sounds hollow if you thumb the top.

Notes

I use a 10" skillet for this recipe. You may also use an 8" or 12" skillet. Bread baked in an 8" skillet will result in a taller bread and will likely take a few extra minutes to bake. Bread baked in a 12" skillet will result in a wider and shorter loaf and will likely be done a few minutes quicker.

Nutrition Information:

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 0

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47 comments on “4 Ingredient Easy Bread Recipe”

  1. This looks so good, I am going to make it tomorrow. Never thought of making bread in a cast iron skillet!

  2. mmmm this bread is perfect!!!! and I think the rustic-ness is pretty 🙂

  3. I love making breads, would like the recipee for Italian bread. Could not see your video, but your directions are great.

  4. I tried this and my dough was so hard, I could barely knead it. Also, it never rised any during the hours of sitting. Any idea what I possibly did wrong?

  5. Can I use bread flour in place of the AP flour? If so, does the amount of flour change?

    Thank you!

  6. Literally the single best bread I have ever made. I used yeast flour, so deff feel the dough for if it’s wet enough, but amazing

  7. Bread flour I mean

  8. Hi Baker Bettie! I enjoyed this post. I also think the video at the end is very helpful.

  9. Wow!! Just made it. Eating it now with butter. It came out flawlessly! It’s freezing cold outside here, but we proofed it in the microwave with the light on and a towel over it. I was even a bit short on flour but it was perfect with just four cups of flour! Baked for 38 minutes.

  10. Hi there! I just tried this and my dough was also hard like a previous poster had stated. What could have gone wrong? I was barely able to knead it and the ball wasn’t uniform. 

    • Hi Val! It sounds like you must have had too much flour in your dough! Make sure that you measure it properly by lightly spooning it into your measuring cup, without packing it down, and level it off. If you are sure this is the way you measured it, you can start with 3 1/2 cups of flour and add more a little at a time until you get the right consistency!

  11. After a few failed tries with other recipes, I came across this wonderfully simple bread. Made it today… and it was FANTASTIC!!!!!!!!! I CAN MAKE BREAD NOW!!!! Great crust, delectable crumb and best of all, I can make it any time I want!
    Thanks so much!

  12. didnt rate yet as im waiting on the one hour rise,, nervous as dough did not stir into a ball, just kept falling apart, wet my hands with warm water and even in kneading it was like concrete, so not looking hopeful, will update after done.

  13. ty for reply…its as dry as concrete, not smothe at all, didnt rise as i can see, not sure if worth the oven time at this point

  14. think i had the same prob as val from previous comment

    • Ah I see. I was picturing a wet concrete paste from what you described. I see what you are saying now. Measuring flour is a common baking problem. If you don’t have a scale the weigh the flour, make sure you lightly spoon it into the measuring cups without packing it in at all and then level it off. Also make sure that your water is warm but not very hot. Hope that helps!

  15. Have just made your easy rustic loaf and am thrilled with the result. I substituted 2 cups of oat flour, made from grinding rolled oats, and it has a lovely texture, crusty on the outside and moist and crumbly on the inside. I did add an extra half cup of water whilst mixing as it felt a bit dry. Thanks so much for your recipe and informative instructions!

  16. Mine did not work either!  I tested the water temp and used exact measurements and it’s all crumbly and hard and won’t knead into a ball.  I don’t know what I am doing wrong?  My first try at bread too!  No wonder it’s intimidating 

    • Hi Lesley! Bread can be tricky, but don’t give up! It might be wise to invest in a kitchen scale (you can easily find one for under $20) and begin weighing your flour. If you do want to still measure by volume, make sure you aren’t packing the flour into your measuring cups. Lightly spoon it in and then level it off. It is a common problem to measure too much flour. Hope that helps!

  17. Made this last night to accompany red beans and rice and it was dee-lish!

    Backstory: Ill preface this with… I am a good cook but a mediocre baker on my best day. So, just keep that in mind.
    I made 2 batches because on the first I used bread flour instead of AP and the dough was too dry & i loosened it with olive oil rather than water because I thought bread recipes usually had oil so WTH, right? 😀 Oh, for the record, I messed up the salt as well. I used 1 tsp vs 1 tbsp by accident. By now I am sure you are thinking that it’s 4 FOUR ingredients and I messed up 3! Well, me too sister, me too. So, I researched a bit about bread flour and humidity and what dough texture should feel like and salt factors on yeast and flavor and decided to make a 2nd batch with AP, increased the water by 2 tsp and added the full tbsp of salt. So here is the thing… they both baked up beautifully in the cast iron skillet (BTW’s that genius) and were equally delicious and personally i couldn’t tell the difference. So your recipe is literally fool proof 😀 and really, REALLY
    awesome. Ill be saving this for a go to option for the future.

  18. What kind of dinner or meal would this bread go with? Made it and it was delicious just didn’t plan it with a meal I was interested in making bread on a whim at the time 

    • Hi Corinne, so glad you liked it! You can do so much with this bread from sandwiches, french toast, and paninis to served alongside a dinner. You could add some garlic and pair it with a pasta meal or toasted on the side of a soup. Let me know what you make!

  19. So making this bread was my very first foray into the world of bread baking. I assembled the ingredients late at night and since I didn’t have time to wait for it to rise I placed the dough in the fridge for about 8 hours to slow the dough from rising (not sure if that is correct but I think I read that somewhere). Next morning I took out of fridge, made the finishing touches and placed in the oven. Forty-five min later it came out perfect, looking like something I would find in the bakery. Thank you so much for this wonderfully simplistic yet delectable bread recipe. My 3 year old who is quite picky of what he eats now readily ate up the buttered slice I gave him.
    I was wondering if I would be able to substitute with whole wheat flour in this recipe without having to make any adjustments to other ingredients. I read somewhere I would need to use more water if using whole wheat. Also, I was thinking to add cold milled flax seed to the mix to enhance its nutrional value. Do you have any recommendations on how much I should add? Two tablespoonfuls is considered a serving. Thank you.

    • Hi Thomas! I’m so glad to hear that your first attempt at bread turned out so well! That is very exciting! Your instincts were correct that cold slows down the fermentation process, so a slow rise in the refrigerator works well. You can definitely substitute whole wheat flour for the white flour. Whole wheat flour is more absorbent so you typically want substitute 1 cup minus 2 tbsp whole wheat flour for every 1 cup of white flour you are substituting. You could experiment with replacing some of the white flour or all of it. It will be more dense if you use 100% whole wheat, but delicious all the same. Though I have not personally experimented with adding ground flaxseed to this bread, you definitely can. I would suggest starting with about 1/3 cup and increasing the water to 1 3/4 cup because the flax is very absorbent. Then you can make adjustments from there. Let me know how it goes!

  20. Hello, I do not have a cast iron skillet. I have a non-stick skillets, a loaf pan, non-stick round cake pans, baking sheets, foil, and parchment paper. Which option do you think would be best? Thank you!

  21. I’m thinking this measurement for water is wrong  not enough water to make dough 

    • Hi Gary! 60% hydration is a very standard hydration level for a bread dough which is what this amount of water would calculate to be. I’ve made this bread many times with success, as have others. Can I ask how you measured your flour? By weight or by volume? If you are measuring by volume make sure you do not pack the flour down into the measuring cups. Lightly spoon it in and then level it off. That said, if you live somewhere incredibly dry and find this still isn’t enough water, you can add a little more until the dough feels right. Hope that helps!

  22. I made this bread yesterday. Had some with dinner and made French toast this morning. Excellent and will now be my go to, bake to impress recipe. The only thing I changed is that I added 1/4 tsp sugar to my initial yeast mixture to “feed” it. That small bit of sugar, I’m sure did not change the taste but it does help activate a robust yeast action. Otherwise I followed the recipe exactly. I do bake a lot of different breads but this is a favorite just because of the excellent resuits with minimal work.

  23. Rosemary addition makes the recipe.

  24. Wonderful recipe Bettie. I thank you. I’m in Nairobi and found that the flour here is tougher. Kneaded for 10 minutes.

    Rose beautifully. Baked perfectly. Thank you so much.

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