Baker Bettie

4 Ingredient No-Knead Rustic Bread

This is the easiest bread recipe. With only 4 ingredients (water, flour, yeast, salt) and no-kneading you can have fresh bread our of your own oven! If you are scared of using yeast, this bread will get your feet wet!

4 Ingredient No-Knead Bread Overview

  • Skill Level: Beginner

I have been told by many of my readers that they are intimidated by working with yeast. But yeast bread is one of those things in baking that can range from being incredibly simple to being very complicated. 

No-knead bread is the easiest yeast bread you can bake. It will get your feet wet and make working with yeast feel less intimidating. And you only need 4 ingredients to make it: water, flour, salt, and yeast. 

Easiest Bread Recipe, 4 Ingredient Rustic Bread- Baker Bettie

Ingredients in No-Knead Bread

Basic no-knead bread only calls for 4 ingredients: water, flour, salt, and yeast. That’s it! But you can also add in spices, herbs, and other add-ins like cheese, nuts, or seeds if you like to further flavor your bread! 

Yeast- The yeast for no-knead bread can be either active dry yeast or rapid rise (also known as instant or quick rise yeast). No matter which kind of yeast you choose, you can put it right into the dry ingredients without proofing it. Active dry yeast will need a little longer rising time than rapid rise yeast. 

The yeast is your leavening and what will make your bread dough rise. It is also what will flavor your bread. 

Water- Water wakes up and activates the yeast. Dry yeast is in a dormant state and needs moisture to wake up and being feeding.

The water is what can kill your yeast. You want to use very warm but not hot water. Somewhere around 110-130 F is great. If you have a thermometer definitely check the temperature. If you do not, error on the side of your water being lukewarm. 

Flour- Flour is the yeast’s food. Yeast feeds on sugar and will break down the starch in the flour to eat and create carbon dioxide gas and alcohol.

The flour in this recipe can be either unbleached all-purpose flour or bread flour. You do not want to use bleached flour as it will not develop a strong enough gluten structure. Bread flour will develop the strongest gluten structure and will allow the bread to rise higher and develop more chewiness. You can also substitute in some wheat flour for the white flour in this recipe (see recipe notes for details).

Salt- Salt not only flavors the bread, but also slows down the yeast a bit. Dough without salt will rise much faster resulting in larger air pockets and an uneven crumb to the bread.

Kosher salt or fine sea salt is preferable because it has a bit of a course grain to it, but if you only have table salt you can use it. Just cut the amount of salt in the recipe in half.

That’s it. Yeast, water, flour, and salt! If you buy yeast in bulk like me, you probably always have all of these ingredients on hand. It is really nice to be able to whip up a loaf of bread on a lazy Sunday afternoon.

And if you don’t want to sit around waiting for it to rise, store the dough in the fridge over night or even for a few days. It will slowly rise and will be ready for you when you want to make some bread!

This is a very rustic free form bread recipe. You can form it into two loafs or one big circle. You can also bake it straight on a baking sheet, in a cast iron skillet, or the best option is in a preheated dutch oven. 

How to Make No-Knead Bread

Step 1: Mix together your Dry Ingredients 

In a large mixing bowl, mix together the flour, salt, and yeast. If you want to add any spices, herbs, or other mix-ins, you can also add those in at this point. 

Step 2: Add the Warm Liquid

Warm your water to about 120-130 F (49-54 F). If you do not have a kitchen thermometer, this will feel very warm but not hot to the touch. Error on the side of a little cooler if you are unsure so you do not risk killing the yeast.

Next, add the warm water into the bowl and stir until all of the dry ingredients are saturated. It will look like there is not enough liquid at first, but as you stir, the mixture will come together into a shaggy and sticky dough. As soon as all of the flour is mixed in, you can stop stirring. 

Step 3: Let the Dough Rest & Rise

Place a kitchen towel or a piece of plastic wrap over the bowl and let it sit in a warm spot in your kitchen to rise. If your kitchen is very cold, sometimes inside the microwave or inside an off oven with the oven light on is a bit warmer. 

This step of the process is called “bulk ferment.” What will happen during this time is the yeast will begin feeding on the starches in the flour and will create carbon dioxide gas and alcohol. 

Let the dough ferment until it is about double in size. If you used active dry yeast, this process will take about 1 hour. If you used rapid rise yeast it will take about 30 minutes. 

Step 4: Shape the Dough

Dust the top of the risen dough as well as your hands with flour. Gently pull the dough away from the sides of the bowl and gather it all up in your hands, gently pulling down on the sides to roughly form a ball. 

Now you can transfer it to your either a piece of parchment paper or directly into the skillet if you will be choosing that baking option.

Options for Baking No-Knead Bread

You have 3 options for baking your no-knead bread. You can place it on parchment paper and bake it on a baking sheet. You can bake it in a cast iron skillet. Or you can bake it in a preheated dutch oven (or an oven proof pot with a tight fitting lid). 

Baking the bread in a dutch oven (or lidded pot) is the best way to get a nice rise on your loaf as well as a crispy outer crust. This is by far the preferred method if you have this potion available to you. However, baking the bread on a sheet pan or in a skillet does still result in a beautiful loaf. 

Step 5: Proof your Bread

Cover the shaped dough with a piece of plastic wrap and then let it rise a second time. This is called proofing and will build up more gasses in the dough and also improve the flavor. 

Proof the dough for about 1 hour if you used quick rise yeast and about 90 minutes if you used active dry yeast. 

Step 6: Preheat your Oven

Preheat your oven to 450 F (232 C) for about an hour while your bread if proofing. Even though your oven may indicate that it is up to temperature much quicker, the full hour will insure that every part of your oven is truly hot. 

If you will be using your dutch oven to bake your bread, put that in the oven to preheat as well. 

Step 7: Bake the Loaf

Once the dough is finished proofing, carefully remove the plastic wrap and dust the top of the loaf lightly with flour. If desired, you can use a sharp knife to score the loaf as well. This is optional and the loaf will naturally open in a rustic way if you do not score the loaf. 

If you are using the dutch oven, use oven mitts to remove it from the oven and transfer the whole loaf on the parchment paper into the pot and put the lid on top. If you are using a skillet or a baking sheet, you can go right into the oven. 

Slicing and Storing your Fresh Bread

Once your bread reaches a golden brown crust, remove it from the oven and place it on cooling rack to cool before slicing. Wait at least 1 hour, and preferable 12 hours before slicing. Waiting until the loaf is completely cooled will give you the best texture and flavor for your loaf. It will also prevent it from staling as quickly. 

Once your loaf is sliced, keep it out at room temperature on a cutting board, cut side down for up to 2 days. After that, I suggest slicing it and putting the slices in the freezer. Toast to refresh. 

No-Knead Rustic Bread

No-Knead Rustic Bread

Prep Time: 3 hours
Cook Time: 50 minutes
Total Time: 3 hours 50 minutes

This is the easiest bread recipe. With only 4 ingredients (water, flour, yeast, salt) and no-kneading you can have fresh bread our of your own oven! If you are scared of using yeast, this bread will get your feet wet!

Ingredients

  • 3 3/4 cup (450 gr) flour (unbleached all-purpose or bread flour, see note for using whole wheat)
  • 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 package (2 1/4 tsp, 7 gr) active dry or quick rise yeast
  • 1 1/2 cups (340 gr)  warm water (about 120-130 F)

Instructions

  1. In a large mixing bowl, stir together the flour, salt, and dry yeast until well combined. (If you are measuring with cups instead of by weight, make sure you lightly spoon the flour into your measuring cups without packing it down at all and then level it off. This will insure you won't end up with too much flour in your dough.)
  2. Add the warm water into the mixing bowl and stir until all of the ingredients come together into a thick dough that is shaggy and sticky. There should be no pockets of dry flour left, but it will be quite lumpy.
  3. Cover the bowl with a towel or loose plastic wrap and let it sit in a warm spot in the kitchen to rise until double in size. This will take about 45 minutes if you used quick rise yeast and 75 minutes if you used active dry yeast.
  4. Generously sprinkle flour over top of risen dough and cover hands with flour. Gently pull the dough away from the sides of the bowl and gather it all up in your hands. Start pulling down on all of the sides of the dough to form into a smooth ball (you can watch the video tutorial in the post to see a demonstration of this). Transfer to dough onto a piece of parchment paper if you will be baking it in a dutch oven or alternatively you can place it right into a greased cast iron skillet or a parchment lined baking sheet.
  5. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and let it proof (rise again) for about 1 hour if you used quick rise yeast and 90 minutes if you used active dry yeast. The dough should double in size again.
  6. Meanwhile, preheat your oven for about an hour while the dough is proofing. This will insure that the oven will be completely hot when the bread goes in. If you are using a dutch oven, preheat to 450 F (232 C) and also place that in the oven to preheat. If you are baking on a sheetpan or in a cast iron skillet, preheat to 375 F (190 C).
  7. Once the dough is finished proofing, carefully remove the plastic wrap and lightly dust the top with a little more flour. IF desired, score the top of the loaf a few times with a sharp knife. This is optional and the loaf will naturally open up in a rustic way if you do not score it. If you will be baking the loaf in the preheated dutch oven, carefully remove it from the oven with oven mitts and place the loaf on the parchment paper into the pot. Place the lid back on top.
  8. If baking in the dutch oven, bake at 450 F (232 C) for 30 minutes with the lid on and then an additional 10-20 minutes with the lid off until deep golden brown. If you bake on a baking sheet or in a skillet, bake at 375 F (190 C) for 45 minutes - 1 hour until deep golden brown.
  9. Transfer the loaf onto a cooling rack and let cool for at the very least 1 hour before slicing.
  10. If bread is left over, place sliced side down on a cutting board and leave and room temperature for up to 2 days. After that, slice the loaf and store it in a ziplock bag in the freezer. Toast to refresh.

Notes

  • Substituting Whole Wheat Flour: For the best texture, substitute only up to 1/2 the amount of flour with whole wheat flour. For every 1 cup you substitute you should substract 2 tbsp whole wheat flour. My preferred ratio of using wheat flour in this recipe is 2 1/2 cups white flour and 1 cup + 2 TBSP whole wheat flour.

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Nutrition Information:

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 53

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163 comments on “4 Ingredient No-Knead Rustic Bread”

  1. Pingback: How We Begun Our Food Storage – The Peso-Pinching Pinay

  2. Would this recipe work to bake the bread in a loaf pan? Or would it be impossible to get it out of that type of pan? I like tall bread vs. long.

  3. Can I substitute self rising flour instead of the yeast?

    • Hi Jessica! Unfortunately, self-rising flour will not work as a substitute for this recipe. Self-rising flour uses baking powder as the leavening agent which acts very differently than yeast does. If you do not have yeast on hand and are looking to make a bread, I recommend trying my Basic Quick Bread Recipe!

  4. I make this exactly as instructed but the crust gets hard and cracked. Any idea why?

    • Hi Jinger,

      This is a “lean bread” meaning that it does not contain any fat in it and therefore is a crusty bread. Fat is what makes breads soft on the outside. This bread is meant to be chewy and crusty. If you want a softer bread, like a sandwich bread, you will want to make a bread recipe that contains fat. My Country White Sandwich Bread would be a great place to start!

  5. Hi. Can this be made using gluten free self raising or plain flour

    • Hi Wilma! I have not personally tried it, but I know other’s have successfully made it with a gluten free blend. I would use a plain gluten free blend, and not a gluten free self-raising flour.

  6. At what point do I add spices?  I was thinking rosemary or garlic or both! 
    Another question, do you think using mini loaf pans will work? 

    Ps- I’ve made this recipe before and it turned out great! I just want to spice it up a bit. So easy!

  7. What is the weight of the ingredients in ounces and grams?

  8. Thank you!! this is came out perfect…had some ‘happy little accidents’ but this recipe seems very forgiving.  Used less flour 3 1/3c so used less of the yeast watery blend for example and I proofed it twice.  Must say this is the best bread I have ever baked.

  9. I have made this Rustic bread quite a few times and have found it to be the easiest and best recipe ! We love the soft inside and the crusty outside. So easy to make! Try it you will Love it!

  10. Did you brush the top with butter to get it to brown like that?

    • Hi Kevin, no I do not brush the bread with butter. I just dust it with flour. If yours is not browning, you could throw the broiler on for the last little bit of cooking, but watch it very closely!

  11. I thought bread had to be punched down and kneaded after letting it rise the first time? But this recipe does not require that step, why? I am currently in the process of making this bread and I don’t want to mess it up by adding in a step if it is not necessary. Thank you!

    • Hi Cheyenne! The traditional process for making bread is to mix all ingredients together, knead the bread, let it rise, deflate the air out (also known as “punching”), and then shaping the bread. You do not knead it again after deflating it. This bread is a no-knead bread so there is not any kneading in the whole process and the process of picking the bread up to shape it after it rises will deflate the dough. No need to actually punch the dough, the air will come out just by shaping it. Hope that helps!

  12. Can I bake this bread in a glass container? 

    • Hi Cassandra! This is a very rustic free form bread recipe. While you can bake this bread in various pans, I don’t recommend a glass pan. This bread is a bit crusty and it will be difficult or impossible to get out of the pan. Do you own a cast iron skillet, ovenproof pot, or metal baking pans? Any of these would work well!

  13. Pingback: Rustic No-Knead Bread | A Growing Home Rustic No-Knead Bread |

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  16. The easiest bread recipe for us to date. Quick by most any standard. The only difference we made was to use a pyrex dish with a lid. We preheated the bowl and oven as one then took the lid off for the last three minutes for a bit thicker crust. This is what we intend sticking with as the only way easier would be to have someone come to your home and bake it for you.
    Mike

  17. Fantastic recipe and really got me out of a bind when I found myself without bread last night with a toddler who demands toast for breakfast! Lovely and crunchy crust and soft and fluffy inside I will definitely be making this again

  18. Stupid question, but can you half/quarter this recipe? To make a few bread rolls.

  19. Hey Kristen, for travelling with kitties i’ve heard that playing cat music (for anxiety) could help soothe them a little. Haven’t had the chance to try it on my baby yet but next time give it a try, it could save you and them a hell of a lot of stress if it works! Hope this is helpful x

  20. I have always used a bread maker because I thought making bread from scratch was probably too hard. Then I came upon this recipe. I made this yesterday and I have to say this was the best bread I have ever made! I followed the recipe exactly as written including using a cast iron skillet. It was crunchy on the outside, soft on the inside and the flavor was delish! Thank you! I will be making this over and over.

  21. Such a great, easy to follow recipe! Trying to be a bit more heart healthy so I’m wondering if a 12 grain flour be substituted for white flour with this recipe? 

  22. Hi is it normal for the dough to stick like mad to the bowl when taking it out after the initial rising time?

  23. Greetings – happy Sunday! made this bread this afternoon while drinking some wine, the bread came out excellent… Thanks so much

  24. Can I also use wheat flour? I would like to try it with wheat flour. Comments appreciated. Thanks!

  25. Yummy! My son and I made this today. Came out perfectly! But, I made it in my cast iron skillet, didn’t preheat or grease. Yikes! Googled how to get it out and finally did. It really only stuck in the corner. We will definitely make this again.

    • Hi Lilly! You shouldn’t need to preheat your cast iron or grease it. I make this all the time! Does your cast iron need seasoned? I’m wondering if that may be the problem. Also, do you have an oven thermometer? If your oven is actually heating to the set temperature that could cause it to stick.

  26. Hi, I was wondering if I could let the dough rise over night and come back to it in the morning

  27. Really easy I added a little molasses and cinnamon

  28. I have my first batch raising right now! I’m so excited, baking bread for a living has always been a dream of mine and now I can finally begin starting with this super fast and easy recipe. I actually wanted to start a second batch right away, but I don’t have fancy equipment! I don’t know yet how it will taste, but I love bread, so it’ll be fine no matter what to me!! can’t wait to never have to buy bread ever again! I’m gonna be checking out ALL your bread recipes!!

  29. Hi, have I read this recipe wrong? Is it 4 cups of 1/3 or 4 1/3 cups of flour? 
    Silly question, I know but in England we go on measure nor volume! I’m standing by my bowl of flour with 4 and one 1/3 cups of flour in it..!

    • You are correct Anna. If you see “4 1/3” that means 4 cups plus 1/3 cup. I have added weight measurements to the recipe for you. All of my newer recipes are written that way and I have been going back and adding weights to old ones but it is a big project. Hope you enjoyed the bread!

  30. Thanks for the recipe. I didn’t yet have my baby (sourdough culture) back from my friend who was babysitting it while I was away and came across your recipe in its place. It made a nice loaf with 50/50 plain white and rye flour and a mixture of sesame seeds, linseeds, sunflower seeds, pepitas and fennel seeds.

  31. Easier stil.
    Try this recipe from South Africa.
    500 gram self raising flour.
    500 ml buttermilk.
    Mix and put in i individual bread pans muffin pans or for single bread, in a single bread pan.
    180 celsius oven. About 20/30 min.

  32. Loved this recipe! I used half wholemeal flour. Kids have devoured it straight from the oven. Yum!

  33. Very yummy, and super easy to make.  Is now my quick go to bread recipe!

  34. Thank you Baker Bettie for a wonderful easy and tasty bread recipe!
    Honestly , life-changing for us!
    We may never buy store bread ever again!
    Many, many thanks!

  35. Made this today and couldn’t be happier! Thanks so much for a delicious recipe that is easy enough for a new baker (like my grandchildren) and tasty enough for a seasoned baker! Tomorrow we are on to cinnamon and raisin. Thanks again!!

  36. Wow, this bread turned out great! I feel like some sort of master chef! And I never thought I’d be someone to make homemade bread, from scratch!

    I meant to make bread for the first time in the bread maker my mom gave me. But the machine was really moldy and gross after sitting so long. Howevrr I still had a serious hankering for bread so I made your recipe. I’ve never attempted to make bread of any sort before today and it turned out fantastic! And it was so easy! Thanks for making a breadmaker out of me with your awesome recipe! My husband and daughter thank you too! Delicious!

  37. There’s not much good bread to choose from in the store and I am so happy to have found your fantastic recipe Bettie! It’s really easy to make and came out perfect in a round baking pan. My boyfriend and I love it! Thanks so much for sharing it!

  38. Can I shape the dough in a circle and bake on a regular baking sheet?

    • Hi Minda, yes you can! But your dough likely won’t hold the circle shape very well and will spread more out rather than up. This is a very wet dough, due to being no-knead. I suggest sprinkling a generous amount of flour on the dough and your hands. Gather all the dough in your hands and then pull down on all the sides gathering a seam on the bottom of the dough. This will create a bit of tension and allow it to hold its shape. Hope that helps!

  39. Delicious recipe! Prepped it up whilst doing laundry and just thought it could help others, I only let the bread rise once.
    Resulted in a very dense, cake like bread. Still yummy though.
    Might have to make another 😉

  40. Hi Bettie,
    I noticed you dont use any sugar
    Can i use a bit more flower to make a bigger bread? Cause i got farm loaf pans.I also got a thermo fan oven,can i use the fan during baking as well?
    Many thanks
    George

    • Hi George, yes this is a traditional “lean dough” meaning that it only uses the 4 main ingredients needed for bread: flour, water, salt, yeast. You can add a little sugar if you like but your proofing time will likely be quicker. If you want to make a larger loaf of bread you would need to increase all of the ingredients proportionally. So you could multiply the recipe by 1.25 or by 1.5 to make the loaf 25 or 50% bigger. How big is your farm loaf pan? Are you able to turn the fan off in your oven or is it always on? You can use the fan if that is the only option, but you might want to turn the heat down by about 25 F and check on the bread as it might be done cooking a little faster. Hope that helps!

  41. I live where kosher salt isn’t available but sea salt is plentiful. I know that table salt should be halved, but what about sea salt?

    • Hi Jon, if you are using coarse sea salt you can substitute it in equal amounts. If you are using fine sea salt, you will want to cut down the amount to about 1 tsp. Hope that helps!

  42. Made it to day for lunch to go with my starter soup, the bread flour I used is French flour, the result was excellent, I am passing the recipe to my friends. It has brought back the joy of breadmaking thank you.

  43. I tried and it came out like magic!!! The last time i made bread, it came out like a rock and I gave up. Your recipe is magic! Thank you so much

  44. Was this recipe edited recently??? I haven’t made it since Dec and it turned out differently. I feel like the temp wasn’t over 400 before…

    • Hi there! Thank you for bringing this to my attention. I did update this recipe recently because I now bake it in a dutch oven which gives me better results. So I updated the recipe to include instructions for baking it this way. However I intended to also keep in the instructions for baking it in the skillet and the time and temp got removed accidentally for that method. It is now updated with details for both methods! If you do have a dutch oven or oven proof pot I definitely encourage you to give that method a try!

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  46. I used this for my first bread-making experience and it turned out great! I will definitely make it repeatedly moving forward. 

  47. My and my friend “IDON’TLIKEBREAD25” just made this! She is allergic to gluten and bread is my least favorite food, but it turned out OK and everyone enjoyed it! Thanks for the recipe!

  48. Pingback: self rising flour and yeast – Exst

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