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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
- 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)
- In a large bowl, add your dry yeast and stir in your warm water. Let sit for about 2 minutes.
- 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.
- Remove the dough from the bowl and knead on a clean work surface for about 5 minutes until smooth and elastic.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Preheat your oven to 425F.
- Once the dough is doubled in size, slash the top of the dough a few times with a sharp knife.
- Bake for 35-40 minutes until the bread is a deep golden brown and sounds hollow if you thumb the top.
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.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 0