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

  1. Oh my lord this looks fabulous!

  2. I know what I'll be doing today…….

  3. No knead bread sounds great and this looks as great as it sounds!!!

    • Thanks Jocelyn! Kneading bread can be very therapeutic, but sometimes it is nice for it to just be so easy!

  4. Congrats on your new place. I love the kitchen! Your kitties are too cute. And this bread… It looks fabulous.

    • Thanks so much Jennie! I am obsessing over my kitchen. If you saw my last one, you would understand why!

  5. So… what do you do exactly after you mix all the ingredients?

    • I’m not quite sure what you mean. You do pretty much nothing! You cover the bowl with a towel or plastic wrap and just let it sit there and rise. After about 2 hours, sprinkle the flour on top of the dough and then shape it how you want it. Let it rise again, then bake it!

      Let me know if one of the steps in the recipe description isn’t clear. I will try to edit it to make it make more sense!

  6. I’m so, so glad you’re back.

    • Taylor, this comment made my heart sing! I’m so, so glad to be back. And am so, so glad that my readers want me back! <3

  7. I’m so happy you’re all settled! I love this new series and this bread (yum!)

    and um….come visit me in NYC?

    • Kayle! I really do want to do that! My husband and I are going back to Kansas next week for a wedding but maybe the week after or really just anytime before I start culinary school. I’m still looking for a job. Email me and we’ll find a time that works!

      • gahhh I didn’t see thiiis because I should probably click the lil thing about being notified of follow up comments! BUT YES! You fb’d me already and I’ve already agreed but I’ll say it again: foooooodie daaaate woot!

  8. Alright girl this looks like something I can handle lol I love this “Back to Bake-ics” I am not the best in the kitchen (just ask my sister) 🙂

    This might be a silly question but can you use whole wheat flour or possibly even make this gluten free?? Or did I just make it 10x more difficult? 😉

    • HAHA Chrissi, no. Those are great questions. Typically I don’t like the texture of bread when I use all whole wheat flour, so I would suggest using a combination of the two. I would say try 2 cups whole wheat and 2 cups white or 3 cups whole wheat and 1 cup white. (you want a little bit less flour if you are using wheat flour because it is heavier than white flour) I personally have not had a lot of luck making yeast bread gluten free, but I also haven’t tried a gluten free all-purpose mix. And one of my readers told me they tried my pretzels with a gluten-free all purpose mix and that it worked great so it might work with this too! Let me know if you do try it and if it works!

  9. Glad to hear you all survived the big move! Your new kitchen looks great and more importantly, this bread looks amazing. So simple but beautiful and delicious! I can’t believe you drove into Manhattan 🙂

  10. God I love bread so much and this one looks gorgeous. Your husband is brilliant – I love the title “back to bake-sics” and your series. Keep ’em comin’!

    • He is pretty brilliant. He is so witty, I love it. I WILL keep them coming! I think brownies will be coming up next!

  11. What diameter cast iron skillet did you use there?

    • Mine is 10 inch. But you can use a bigger one if that is what you have. It will just spread out. It may cook faster, so you might watch it.

  12. y el laboratorio a plena marcha, me pregunto quien sera el probador oficial??? un abrazo..

  13. We are letting it rise the 2nd time right now! Can't wait to bake it!!!

  14. I'll be over for cinnamon rolls later.

  15. I'll be over for cinnamon rolls later.

  16. Hello Baker Bettie: I made this no knead bread, it came out delicious, easy to bake. It's going to be one of may favorite bread recipes. Thanks for sharing.

  17. I’ve been using a “mix ingredients and let rest for 18 hrs” recipe/ Tried yours and ,,oh yeah, it works too! I suggest 3 table spoons of caraway seed to the dough.

    Thanks for the cool recipe!

  18. Could you explain at what point you can leave it in the fridge ? After second rising? Already in the pan? Or wrapped up?

    • If you want to keep it in the fridge until you are ready for it you can put it in there right after mixing the dough. Keep it wrapped but not completely airtight. Either put a lid on it not completely pressed down or wrap with plastic wrap loosely. The cold slows down the rise but it will slowly rise in there. When you are ready to use it pull it out and start at step 4 to continue making the bread.

  19. I am confused about the cup measurments, do you mean drinking cup like coffee or teacup? We/here use weights like ounces/pounds. Please clarify, I am so eager to try your recipe.

  20. Hi,
    I just recently found your recipes, I’m just learning how to bake and these basic recipes are easy to follow and so handy for a beginner just starting out who hasn’t got all the utensils for baking. So Thankyou I’m currently waiting for the two hours to finish, so I can put it in the oven. I can’t wait to taste it I’ve already made your pancakes and they were yummy!

  21. I made this bread today for my family and we enjoyed it. This was the best easy bread recipe I came across. Thanks for sharing.

  22. Made the this morning cant wait to see how it turn out.Thank Randy

  23. Great in a snowy day! Love it!

  24. This looks/sounds awesome and easy but I actually prefer using just whole wheat flour, no white flour. I would like a rise comparable to a wheat/white mix, though. Would the addition of some vital wheat gluten accomplish this and if so, how much would you recommend?

  25. Made with my 5 year old! Do you know how to make vegan cupcakes, cookies

  26. This recipe is SO EASY and comes out DELICIOUS! I have always found bread difficult to make but this has made me a avid believer. I have made this bread three times. I put 1/3 c. corn meal in the first time, w/1 cup stone ground wheat and 3 cups white bread flour. I use rapid rise yeast and it really rises beautifully every time. Today I’m making it with just white bread flour and King Arthur stone ground wheat flour. My husband loves it this way. I’m looking forward to making it with all stone ground wheat to see what happens. I like rustic!
    btw/ baker Betty needs to put some clothes on!

  27. I’m glad to see I am not the only one that makes no-knead bread. It kinda feels like cheating when I don’t knead the bread, but instead use a spoon to stir it! But really, those first few minutes of kneading is the worst: bread dough sticking to your fingers like glue. I’d rather use the spoon. The end result is good enough and family members don’t really notice the difference between kneaded and no-kneaded bread loaves.

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  30. What a wonderful looking kitchen, I’d be happy in there as well!

    Thanks for the recipe, always on the lookout for more bread recipes (I have a problem, as they say). I prefer to bake naturally leavened sourdough but I’d like to give this “quick” bread a shot.

    Ciao!

    • Thanks for the comment Maurizo. This post is quite old and I am learning much more about more advanced bread baking techniques! I agree with you on the naturally leavened stuff! So much more flavor! This quick bread is nice in a pinch but definitely not the same in flavor profile!

  31. Baked this tonight – dead simple, great texture. Kind of bland but that’s to be expected from such a basic bread, next time I’ll mix in some herbs but for now it’s nice with butter. I’ve had the urge to bake something the past few days but I moved earlier this year and don’t have any baking pans yet – I do have a cast-iron skillet so this recipe jumped out at me. Very nice.

  32. Daughter was craving fresh bread, but we are iced in atm (yay Kansas!) and didn’t have my usual ingredients in. I found this recipe and went to town. Turned out lovely!

  33. I am new to your blog, but I really like the bread recipe you posted, I would like to make it tomorrow, can I ask you question when I come accross question?

  34. I made two loavesnof this bread — one with half whole wheat/half white flour, and the other with 3/4 white flour/ 1/4 whole wheat. The latest was definitely better.
    Easy and yummy recipe.

    My bread however, turned out pretty crumbly. As in slicing it and it would fall apart. Is that how it is? Should I do something different?

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  36. I printed out this recipe three years ago and I just decided to try it today. Really delicious and beautiful.

  37. Is it 2 and a bit teaspoons of yeast? ?or a bottle of yeast? ? It’s been nearly 2 hour’s and it doesn’t seem to have risen. .I’ve got a tea towel over the top and it’s in the hot water cupboard. Can anyone offer advice .This is the no kneading, 4 recipe bread

  38. Everything is lovely! The cats, kitchen, APPLIANCES, easy bread recipe! Could you please sign me up for other recipes? Or please let me know how to? I make my biscuits old fashioned….and they are fabulous! Would love to see all your ideas! How do you feel about adding rootbeer extract to pancakes? Plus diced fruit cocktail? Thank you so much for publishing this recipe. I am disable and will get other needed ingredients next month. I can hardly wait. Thanks again for the uplift today! You certainly raised my spirits!!

  39. I love making bread but, stopped when my food processor broke. I have bad arthritis in my hands so can’t knead the dough. My daughter sent me this recipe a few days ago and it is really awesome. I am thrilled that I can make bread again especially one so good. Tytyty so much for an amazing recipe.

  40. Everything is lovely! The cats, kitchen, APPLIANCES, easy bread recipe! Could you please sign me up for other recipes? Or please let me know how to? I make my biscuits old fashioned….and they are fabulous! Would love to see all your ideas! How do you feel about adding rootbeer extract to pancakes? Plus diced fruit cocktail? Thank you so much for publishing this recipe. I am disable and will get other needed ingredients next month. I can hardly wait. Thanks again for the uplift today! You certainly raised my spirits!!

  41. Hi I’ve baked several recipes, my dough doesnt rise the second time? Although Im baking with gluten/wheat free flour other recipes it didnt behave different to other flours! Advise please

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  43. What is meant by if bread is left over? is this dough, or actual done bread? I can pretty much say there will be no done bread left over. Well, at least in my case any way.

    Thanks so much for this recipe. This does get a beginners feet wet in learning to make bread.

  44. I love this recipe. I have made this twice now. I can’t get enough. With arthritis in my hands bread is hard for me to make. But with this recipe I can. Love it!!!!!

  45. This looks yummy!

  46. Just came across this website . I’m from the UK and needed a quick bread recipe . This is a very lovely proving bread can’t wait till it’s baked on the second prove now. Thanks for the recipe .

  47. Hi Betty,

    this look amazing I can’t WAIT to try it. I do have a few questions (I’ve never tried to bake bread before)

    1- does it always take four hours to cook bread PROPERLY? as in, simple, stripped down, not-processed-icky-bread, but delicious healthy bread like this?

    on step 5- you say to let the dough rise for another 45 minutes; do you cover it again with plastic wrap, or at this point do you leave it open to rise for that last 45 minutes?

    how do you store freshly made bread? will it keep for more than a day or two?

    • Hi Sasha!

      I’m so glad you are wanting to try your head at making bread! Making yeast bread does take some time. The waiting time for bread dough serves to let the yeast feed which will make your bread rise and also develop flavor in the bread. If you use “rapid rise” yeast then you won’t need quite as much time for your dough to double in size.

      When you let the dough rise again, yes you do cover it. I will update the recipe instructions to reflect. Great question!

      Yeast bread is best eaten fresh, but if you want to keep it for a day or two, put it into a large paper bag, but side down. Keeping it cut side down prevents that side from staling while allowing the rest of the loaf to breath a little in the bag. You could also put it into a ziplock bag and push all of the air out of it first. This will prevent the bread from staling but the crust will soften. But just give it a quick toast and you will be good to go!

      I hope that is helpful!

  48. I can still add 1 tsp honey or sugar to the yeast & water, right? I just like the flavor of honey.
    This looks so easy, and being a bread lover & lazy baker, seems a good fit. Thanks!

    • Yes, you can add honey to the water; however, the honey gives the yeast more food to feed on so the rising time may decrease. I recommend simply watching your dough until it is doubled in size. Let me know how it turns out, Christina!

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