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!

I feel like I have been away for ages. I don’t like that. It’s like missing a friend so terribly but then getting incredibly excited when you get to see them again.

That is this. This blog, you readers, creating recipes… all of it. It feels good to be back. Even though I feel bumbly and out of practice.

To catch up for a minute, we are finally settled into our place in Philly. We got here on the 15th after two very long and stressful days of driving with cats crying in the backseat as if I was murdering them.

I felt like a terrible cat mother because I could not sooth them. I was sure they would never let me force cuddle them again. But thankfully I was wrong.
kitties

The day after we got our moving truck cleared out and into our place I went on another long drive from Philly to Cape Cod for a fantastic bachelorette party for my bestie.

I feel like I got my city driving feet wet quickly with my drive into New York City on the way to pick up a friend for the party. I also think I’m completely insane for doing that.

But it worked out well and now I think it might be a dangerous thing to know that I could do it sort of easily. New York City has a magnetic pull on me.

I have finally had some time to get everything organized and functional in our place. Mainly the kitchen, which I LOVE! It is amazing. So open with tons of light from our huge windows and it just feels so good to cook in it. I feel happy in there.

It is starting to feel like home. I have no doubt that it will be far more inspiring than my closed in little box from our last place.

IMG_4419

Before we left I was dreaming up a new series called “Back to Basics” focusing on standard baked goods. I wanted to simplify recipes and do some baking science to make baking feel very approachable.

The second I started to tell my husband about the series he interrupted me and said, “That all sounds great. But I see one problem. You need to call it Back to ‘Bake’sics. Get it?…” So here we are.

It all started with that 5 Ingredient Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe I posted. I love the idea of a stripped down recipe. Down to just the basics. It helps understand baking science and then gives you a blank slate to get creative.

So today we are doing a blank slate bread recipe. An extremely simple, no-knead, 4 ingredient bread recipe. It really can’t get much more simple.

I have heard many people say that they are scared to use yeast or that they always kill it. But trust me, this is fool proof! No special baking skills or equipment required! This is the recipe to get those who are afraid of yeast comfortable with it so you can try more complicated recipes later!

Easiest Bread Recipe, 4 Ingredient Rustic Bread- Baker Bettie

The 4 basic ingredients when making bread are:

Yeast- For this simple and basic recipe you can really use any kind of active yeast. Active dry, rapid rise, or cake or fresh yeast (though this is very difficult to find). Just don’t use nutritional yeast! That is a whole other animal.

If you buy bulk yeast, store it in the freezer to keep it fresh.

Water- Water wakes up and activates the yeast. Here is where people may be “killing” the yeast. You want warm water. Not hot! Just lukewarm. Somewhere between 100-110 degrees F. But here is the thing: If you don’t have a thermometer and are scared of killing the yeast, play it safe by going cooler.

Cold water won’t ruin the recipe. It will just take it much longer to rise. Try for at least room temperature water.

Flour- Flour is the yeast’s food. Yeast feeds on sugar and will break down the starch in the flour to eat and grow or rise. Bread flour or all-purpose flour can be used.

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 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. I did a circular large loaf in my cast iron skillet because my baking sheets are all still in Kansas. I’m totally not sad about it. (That is a bold faced lie)

You could also use an oven proof pot. But just don’t use a glass pan. This bread is a bit crusty and it will be difficult or impossible to get out of the pan.

You could also stir in some fresh herbs, garlic, nuts, or seeds when making the dough. It is a blank slate! Do with it as you wish.

I just made it plain and then used it for breakfast sandwiches. I then made croutons for our salads and bread crumbs with some of the drier bits.

I still have about half a loaf left and might make some bread pudding or a sweet strata later today. Aaaand my husband just woke up requesting french toast.

Easiest Bread Recipe, 4 Ingredient Rustic Bread- Baker Bettie

 What baking questions do you have? Or do you have any requests for some simple recipes of a certain baked good? I love to make baking more approachable for people!

No-Knead Rustic Bread

Prep Time: 3 hours
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 4 hours
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

  • 1 package (2 1/4 tsp, 7 gr) active dry or rapid rise yeast
  • 2 cups (224 gr)  luke warm water
  • 4 1/3 cups (515 gr) flour (all-purpose or bread flour)
  • 2 tsp kosher salt

Instructions

  1. In a large bowl combine the yeast and water.
  2. Add the flour and salt and stir until combined. The batter will be lumpy, but there should not be any visibly dry flour left.
  3. Cover with a towel or loose plastic wrap and let rise until double in size, about 2 hours. (this time will be shorter if using rapid rise yeast)
  4. Generously sprinkle flour over top of risen dough and cover hands with flour. Pick up the dough and pull down on the sides shaping into desired shape. Transfer onto baking sheet, skillet or pot.
  5. Let dough rise again for 45 mins-1 hour.
  6. Preheat oven to 375ºF.
  7. Slash the top of the dough several times with a sharp knife.
  8. Bake for 45 mins-1 hour until the browned on top and cooked through.
  9. Let cool before slicing.
  10. If bread is left over, place sliced side down on a cutting board and leave and room temperature.
Nutrition Information:

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 53

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145 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!

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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

    Rating: 5
  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.

    Rating: 5
  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? 

    Rating: 5
  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

    Rating: 5
  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.

    Rating: 4
    • 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

    Rating: 5
  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!!

    Rating: 5
  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.

    Rating: 5
  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!

    Rating: 4
  33. Very yummy, and super easy to make.  Is now my quick go to bread recipe!

    Rating: 5
  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!

    Rating: 5
  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!!

    Rating: 5
  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!

    Rating: 5
  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!

    Rating: 5
  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!

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