Crusty Bread Easy Overnight No Knead

Crusty Bread Easy Overnight No Knead

Here’s a bread, Crusty Bread Easy Overnight, done in its simplest form. Sometimes you’ll see it called Pot Bread, Artisan Bread, Overnight Bread or No Knead Bread. They are all names for this super easy, quick to mix, no-knead bread that slowly rises overnight and gets popped in the oven the next day.

Crusty Bread Easy Overnight No Knead

Crusty Bread Easy Overnight No Knead


 

Crusty Bread, Easy Overnight is kind of a miracle, one of the most basic breads you could ever make with only four ingredients, but you’d never guess it from the taste which is divine and the texture, which is amazing. There’s that crust for one, and then the holey, kind of chewy dense bread itself.

About Crusty Bread Easy Overnight:

I just gotta mention that crust a little more. I mean that’s why I call this bread crusty! You all know or maybe you were one of those kids that took the crust of the bread? Not this bread. I think it’s the best part. I’ve had people ask for more bread, only to see them pick off the crust and eat it, leaving the bread on the plate!

And ya know you’re ALWAYS supposed to wait for bread to cool, right? We have never had the willpower. We’re cutting it up and digging in as soon as we can safely do so. If I want to serve this for dinner, I have to make two because it never lasts. And there’s no sense in hiding it because I’m part of the problem the smell of freshly made bread wafting through your kitchen is a dead giveaway!

I’m a food blogger. I’ve made more complex, perfect and/or showy bread. I’ve gone through stages when I’ve fermented my own wild yeast for sourdough, fooled around with bigas, French ferments, misting, cooking stones & bricks, blah blah blah, but I don’t really do that any longer – too much babysitting, too much attention and too much time! This Crusty Bread, I make all the time because it’s delish AND it’s SO do-able.

I love that it’s rustic and each loaf seems to have its own personality – it’s so fun to open that pot and see what you’ve got! Sometimes I get a gorgeous perfect round and I have a few hints, below, that help ensure that. Sometimes it’s a little more freeform! I wanted to show a variety of loaves I’ve baked so you can see for yourself.

Crusty Bread Easy Overnight No Knead

Crusty Bread Easy Overnight No Knead

Making Crusty Bread Easy Overnight:

Flour, Salt, Yeast, Water, the recipe couldn’t be easier or more “hands-off.” Not including the (admittedly long) overnight wait time (on the counter) for the yeast to work its magic, it literally takes 5 minutes to mix. This is one of my favorite kinds of recipes, low effort, and high payoff.

Part of the reason the recipe takes a long overnight rise is that it uses very little yeast to start with. The yeast multiplies slowly and I’m no food scientist, but I think that helps the flavor develop without multiple risings like some dough. It also makes this bread incredibly cheap to make!

Just a note of caution! You’ll be working with a heavy, screaming hot pot! You’re going to bake your Crusty Bread Easy Overnight in a plain cast iron or enameled cast-iron Dutch oven. Make sure you have a place to set it when you take it out of the oven and a place to put the lid – two clear burners are probably the safest place.

Over the years I’ve come up with some little tricks to the basic recipe to get just a little bit better results. One of those is using parchment and the other is slightly shaping the dough by using your hands, pinkies and the edge of your palm down, to push in at the bottom of the dough, turning it a bit as you go. Put your hands on either side of the dough ball as if you are going to pick it up, but instead, push in where the dough meets the parchment, slightly turning as you go. That makes the dough a bit tauter and helps it keep a nice round shape with an interesting crust.

I give it a couple of slashes, too, on the top but don’t go too deep or the crust will get a bit free form like the pic towards the top of the page. Still delish, though.

After the dough has risen overnight and you are ready to make your break, if your kitchen is cold you will need to let your dough sit on the counter more than the preheat time of the pan. To speed things up put your parchment on a sheet pan or plate and place it on top of your oven as it preheats, being careful that you’re not creating a hazard with that parchment.

I have a gas stove and my left upper burner (the warmer burner) can get pretty hot when the oven is preheated at this temperature, hot enough to dry the dough out as it sits, so I avoid that portion of my stovetop. Know and monitor the situation on your stovetop if you are letting your dough rise there.

This dough does not need to double during this shorter time as the oven preheats – it has great “oven spring” and literally springs up in the first few minutes of cooking. Tossing a little water in the pan helps with that spring and helps form the gorgeous crust. I toss a bit on top of the dough and let a bit go down the side of the pan (not the parchment) for steam. Do that really quickly in one shot and immediately add the lid. Getting that lid on right away after the water is tossed on is more important than anything else. Don’t overthink, toss it in and lid immediately.

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Special Equipment for Making your Crusty Bread Easy Overnight:

You are going to need An enameled cast iron Dutch oven, regular cast iron Dutch oven or any pot/pan with a lid that will withstand this very high oven temperature.

  • If you know the make of your pan, check the manufacturer’s site (if you no longer have the booklet) to see if your pot will be okay.) If the problem is the plastic knob, remove it and cover the hole with a bit of dough to seal it. Don’t push it in where it could get caught in the threads, just press the dough lightly on top. Just don’t forget to screw the knob back on after everything is washed; it would be a shame to misplace it!
  • An old-fashioned speckled casserole does work but gives just a bit of a strange bottom due to the indentations and the loaf usually is a little more free form than round.
  • I haven’t tried this, but if your baking stone will take the temperature and length of time (and it should) it could be used with a stainless steel bowl as a lid – in this case, don’t toss the water on, but do mist, then pop the bowl over. Be very careful lifting up the bowl when removing it. A thin spatula you can slip under the bowl to lift it and a pair of tongs to grab it with will help.
  • Fair warning, you might want to be aware that this recipe at its high temp can wreak a little havoc on your enameled pot. Barkeeper’s Friend is going to be your friend. Make sure your pot is perfectly clean before starting – any smudgy residue, for instance from the last time you used it, will darken and burn on in the high temps.
Crusty Bread Easy Overnight

Crusty Bread Easy Overnight No Knead

Saving Money on Crusty Bread Easy Overnight:

And talk about cheap! When I first made this in April of 2012, my Crustry Bread Easy Overnight, ran about 25 cents. I’m guessing now, about 30 to 35 cents. A loaf of “Artisan Bread” at my store ran $4.99 in 2012, and I can’t even tell you how much a loaf runs for now. I never have to buy that anymore and haven’t looked at store-bought since the fateful day I came across this little recipe! That store bread, by the way? Not nearly as good, it was a pale anemic, dismal thing compared to this, and it only weighed a pound – if it were 1 1/2 pounds like this bread, it would have cost $7.49.

Shop well for your baking items; I used to really stock up during holiday sales, like Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter but now I find great prices at Aldi. I never bring anything made of or containing flour into my home without freezing for 3 days or refrigerating for 30 to avoid “peskies.” The yeast I buy in jars and keep in the freezer. It will be fine for decades!

Consider Crusty Bread as a Gift: This bread is great for a hostess gift or a gift for a friend, but beyond that, consider giving a young person his/her first enameled cast iron pan (something I didn’t even have until later in life) filled with a container of the premade dough, some butter in a butter saver or butter dish or a good olive oil in a pretty, reusable cruet, a small bag of flour & a container of yeast. And of course, a copy of this blog page! Walk them through the first baking, if possible.

Crusty Bread Easy Overnight No Knead

Crusty Bread Easy Overnight No Knead

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Crusty Bread

Crusty Bread Easy Overnight No Knead

This simple, overnight Crusty Bread has a few little tricks to make it the best you’ve ever had, let alone made!

  • Author: mollie kirby
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 45 minutes
  • Total Time: varies
  • Yield: one 1 1/2 pound loaf 1x
Scale

Ingredients

  • 3 cups unbleached all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon yeast (see note)
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • When ready to bake, have ready in a small container, about 2 tablespoons of water, already measured out; this is in addition to the water for the dough.)

Instructions

In a medium-sized mixing bowl, measure out flour, salt, and yeast. Use a fork or whisk to mix together. Add water (see notes) and mix (a spoonula works great) until a shaggy mixture forms. Cover bowl with a lid or plastic wrap and set aside on the counter for 12 – 18 hours. Overnight works great and the timing is not particular.

Adjust oven rack to the highest level that will accommodate your pan and allow you to easily get it in and out of the oven.

When ready to cook, turn dough out, very carefully, without deflating the dough (nudge it with a spatula, gently, if it sticks) on a heavily floured piece of parchment paper that’s a little larger than the bottom of the pan. You’ll want the parchment to go slightly up the sides for easy removal of the bread.

Flour hands and gently cupping at either side of the bread, keeping pinkies and sides of palm down, form a little, loose “ball” of dough by pressing in at the bottom of the dough as you turn it bit by bit. If the dough sticks, add a bit more flour. Cover with plastic (the same one you used to cover during the rise is fine) or a clean kitchen towel. Carefully place parchment on a sheet pan or plate and set in a warm place (perhaps the front, not the back, which is too warm, of the stove) to rest as the oven preheats.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees, with the pan inside, lid ajar, for 20 minutes, keeping in mind ovens vary in the time it takes to preheat. You’re shooting for about 10 minutes after it gets to 450 degrees F.

Working quickly to retain as much heat as possible, remove hot pot from the oven and drop in the dough, parchment and all. Toss in the water, most right over the dough, but let a little go down to the bottom of the pan for steam and immediately place the lid back on.

Return immediately to the oven and bake for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, remove the lid and bake an additional 10 to 15 minutes until the top is golden brown (a few dark places are just fine.) Place on cooling rack.

Notes

  • Just about any yeast, it seems, works in this recipe. My preferred is active dry, instant seems to work well, too. I’ve also used Rapid Rise and Bread Machine yeast.
  • If you’d like, you may make three slashes across the dough with a very sharp knife before adding it to the pan.
  • If the humidity is very low, which may happen, usually in winter, the amount of water may need to be slightly increased a tablespoon at a time until a shaggy dough is formed. You’ll know because your dough will be a tight ball rather than a shaggy one.

 

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51 thoughts on “Crusty Bread Easy Overnight No Knead

  1. I weighed my bleached flour white dough at 120 grams = 1 cup. However, my dough was much, much wetter than yours, almost runny. How many grams is the all purpose flour that you use? Are you sifting the flour into your measuring cup or just dipping the measuring cup in a bag of flour?

    • FrugalHausfrau

      Hi Kathryn, the beauty of this recipe is that it’s just a super easy method for everyone, but you obviously have some skills! I give my flour a little stir so it’s not compacted and then just dip but lightly and I actually tilt the bag with the measuring cup in it so I don’t overly compact it. I’m a little pressed for time or I’d go measure by ounce and gram right now.

      I’m glad you asked and love that you commented because if you have that question, others must, too. I will be updating this post, too in the very near future!

      And yes, if it is too loose, add in more flour. It should be shaggy. I hope that helps!!

      Stay safe!

      Mollie

    • FrugalHausfrau

      Interesting. Thanks for commenting & maybe this will help someone else, too. If you put yeast and flour and water together, the yeast will always grow and consequently, the bread will rise if the conditions are right.

      So let’s troubleshoot:

      So we know it’s not the recipe. I am assuming since you followed the recipe you didn’t add extra salt which retards yeast, used enough water to form a shaggy dough, and covered it with plastic wrap or a lid, not a towel. That keeps the dough at a level that’s humid enough to not form a crust which keeps the dough from rising well.

      We know it wasn’t the yeast since you used it yesterday unless you somehow killed it in the meantime which seems unlikely. Usually, too much heat kills yeast, leaving it sitting on a hot stove while baking, etc. And you didn’t mention flour. I’m assuming you used the same flour you used for your other bread which worked well, although different flours can affect the rise as well as how heavy and dense the bread is although you should get some rise with just about any flour I can think of, so I think we can eliminate that.

      That means something else went wrong. The most common issues (other than the yeast itself) when bread doesn’t rise are below so I suspect it was one of them:

      The yeast can be retarded or killed by too high of a temperature. Temperatures over 120 degrees (for instance, adding water that’s too hot or putting the dough in an area that’s too hot) will likely injure and kill at least some of the yeast, by 140 degrees, it’s likely to kill all of it.

      The room may have been too cold; it would be hard to have it too hot. Yeast will multiply best between 75 and 95 degrees. Optimal temperature is 75 to 78 degrees but that’s hard to maintain for any home cook; luckily as long as it’s not too cold this recipe is really forgiving.

      Time is the last factor that affects the growth of yeast. This is a slow rise using very little yeast, so it does need a good amount of time to multiply. I’m assuming that time wasn’t the factor here (12 to 18 hours) because even if the bread wasn’t rising on the counter if the bread didn’t rise even a little in the oven, at that point there was a) too little live yeast in the bread or b) the yeast was completely dead at that point.

      I’m sorry, though, about your bread!! I’m glad you stopped by and related your experience and because of it, I will put more information about yeast/rise/temperature and conditions in my post. I feel that if I would have included some of those basics, you would have been more successful!

      Let me know if you give it another go (I hope you do) and how it worked out and most of all, stay safe and keep your spirits up!

      Mollie

  2. Hey Blogger Buddy, it’s been a long time. 🙂 I caught this on one of your FB posts I think. I do make this bread fairly frequently – but yours is slightly different. I want to try it with the overnight rise, and splashing the required water on the top as you indicate. I do have one question though. When you leave the dough overnight, where do you leave it? Counter? Refrigerator? Cold oven?

    • FrugalHausfrau

      Right on the counter! I will specify that! I noticed you Johanna had a faster version posted on FB and I need to do that one!! I’ve been meaning to scroll back and see if I can find it!!

  3. Holy cow. I was super skeptical about this recipe as I have NEVER EVER made my own bread. This was incredibly easy. The photos and descriptions helped me determine if I was doing it right. This bread is incredible–the kind I’d overpay for at our local bakery. I live at 6,500 feet and didn’t make adjustments and it came out deliciously crispy on the outside and soft in the middle. I may have put a little too much “steaming” water in the pan as there’s a little soggy spot in the bottom center. I will definitely make this again and again and take it to homes for gifts. Rusty, impressive, delicious.

    • FrugalHausfrau

      You made my day with your enthusiastic reply! I’m glad you loved it and it is a pretty gratifying thing to bake bread; it’s kind of a small everyday miracle isn’t it! I’m glad you took the plunge! 🙂 I am sure right now with everything going on, a few people would love to have a loaf as a gift!!

      It’s so great to hear it worked out well at your altitude, but I wonder if that little soggy spot might have been the altitude? Try it with less steaming water next time since it sounds like you’ll be making more, so I guess you’ll know soon enough.

      If after that, you still have a little area on the bottom, you might want to take it out of the pan and put it right on the shelf of the oven for a few minutes, watching it closely, maybe even with the oven turned off just so the bottom gets a little dry heat.

    • FrugalHausfrau

      Laurel, Hi. I wouldn’t personally but’s its so easy to make as is. If I did attempt it I would only use the baking portion of the bread machine cycle. But you reminded me, maybe I should pull out my bread machine. I literally have not used it since I started making this bread.

  4. I made this… couldn’t believe only 1/2 tsp yeast so I used 1/2 packet Dry Active Yeast and bread worked fine. Also cut water back to 1-1/4 cup in dough. Used cornmeal in bottom of my Lodge #10 Dutch oven and added two crisscrossed parchment as insurance. Cornmeal worked bread and made a nicer bottom…. be sure to use plenty and add just before adding dough. GREAT BREAD!

    • FrugalHausfrau

      Hi Barbara, as much as I hear that baking is an “exact” science, all the rules go out the window when it comes to bread. It’s so forgiving. And yes, 1/2 a teaspoon of yeast is correct if made by the recipe.

      I always love hearing how recipes are tinkered with and varied! It’s so fun! I’m guessing yours was would have been “sturdier” with less water but the extra yeast would have given it a lot more lift counteracting that! I love the idea of the cornmeal bottom!

      Thanks for stopping back!!

  5. FrugalHausfrau

    Hi Anne, I haven’t done bread at all in my IP. I did look at several recipes for IP bread and my concern would be that this has very little yeast since it’s for an overnight rise and it seems bigger than most of the instant pot recipes. Almost all of them call for 2 1/4 cups of flour.

  6. Michelle

    Hi, .great, great recipe and instructions. I want to bake the batch as two loaves, for gifts. How long should the oven time be? Thank you in advance if you can help me!

  7. Cheri

    Hi I don’t have a do, I do have a cast iron skillet that is about 4-5″ deep. I have no lid for it. The markers on the bottom are 8CF,would this work for the bread?

    • FrugalHausfrau

      Hi Cheri.

      The pan sounds like it is a Lodge https://shop.lodgemfg.com/deep-skillets/3-quart-cast-iron-covered-deep-skillet.asp and should have a heat tolerance of 500 degrees so it should be fine. I’ve made this with cast iron before with no problem.

      You need a lid, though, something that will take the heat that fits or is larger and overhangs. I have this weird univeral lid that expands to fit different size pans that I picked up at the hardware store years ago next to the cast iron – it was cheap, around 12 bucks. You might want to keep your eye out for something like that, but that doesn’t help you today!

      You could also try to improvise, maybe press down several layers of heavy duty aluminum foil – be careful! Or lay a sheet pan over the top. Those options wouldn’t give you the bit of extra space a lid might. So really, the worst thing that could happen is that the loaf might rise high enough (and this bread rises higher sometimes than others) to touch the bottom of whatever you use, but it’s not a super big loaf and I think you’ll fine. And if it doesn’t work out, this is so low effort to make and so inexpensive that it wouldn’t be a huge loss to have an imperfect loaf.

      Hope that helps!

      Mollie

  8. Christine

    I don’t have a cast iron DO. Do you think I could successfully make this in a hand thrown covered crock?

    • FrugalHausfrau

      Absolutely, if it can withstand the heat! I’d hate to see you possibly mess up what sounds like a very special crock! Basically, anything that has a lid and can retain the heat should work. Since it’s nothing to mix up, I think I’d make two, and consider the first an experiment, then if there are any timing issues, you can adjust for number 2. And if they both turn out great, bonus, right?!

    • FrugalHausfrau

      I have used several different sizes and the only difference is the smaller one seems to make the loaf just a bit rounder – I’m going to go check the size….

    • FrugalHausfrau

      Ok, Barb, the one I use the most is a 4 quart because that’s the one that’s always at the front of the cupboard and handy because I cook with it the most. If I make an effort to pull out my three quart, which is at the back of the cupboard, I do think the loaf turns out very slightly rounder. It’s hard to say because sometimes they’re nice and roundish, other times a little flatter and it may be due to variables other than the size of the DO. So long story short, use what you have. How’s that for a non-answer? Anyway, the recipe is very forgiving, a little free form so have fun!

  9. Anda

    I’ve made this several times but always in my cast iron Dutch oven. Yummy. Tradition for Christmas Eve with some different soups. Takes all the work out of the celebration

    • FrugalHausfrau

      Perfect with soup! And I love traditions like those – I’ve made it with my cast iron Dutch oven, too. I have a very old one and I love it because it’s just the perfect size and not as heavy as my enameled one!

    • FrugalHausfrau

      Thanks! I think the no sugar is because this is such a very long and slow overnight rise. That slow rise helps develop the flavor of the bread, too. I think the reasoning is probably if it had sugar, it might rise to the point it collapses upon itself. It’s something, though, that you can always fiddle with a bit – I might even do that sometimes. Make one with a bit of sugar and another w/o and see what it looks like the next day!

      • Thanks! My bread making skills are pretty limited and I often experience less than great results so maybe I’ll just play around with it and see what works best in my high altitude area which probably also contributes to some of those results.

        • FrugalHausfrau

          I lived in Georgetown & outside of Frisco Colorado for years and I didn’t have great results with making bread as I recall. But I was young, in my late teens and early 20s and that was decades ago and I was trying to make whole grain and sprouted breads.

          I think this is a great bread to start with because it’s so low effort (and it’s so cheap) to make that you can give it a go without too much investment. Plus, it’s rustic! There’s no real “perfection” to worry about. 🙂

          • Excellent and thank for sharing! Always love hearing from a fellow/former Coloradan. Do you recommend bread flour or is all purpose sufficient? P.S. LOVE, LOVE, LOVE rustic breads, and the crunchier the crust, the better. 🤩

            • FrugalHausfrau

              I’ve always just used plain old flour, but I didn’t have an answer to that so I did some checking. Bread flour has more protein and might be the way to go for you. I also found some “rules” of thumb on this site: https://www.wheatmontana.com/content/high-altitude-baking-how-make-your-recipes-work-mountains

              So keeping in mind that I haven’t tried this myself, I’d use the high protein flour, no sugar decrease the yeast by a smidge – it hardly has any yeast to start with so that would be decreased by 1/8th teaspoon. You probably won’t want to turn up your oven or maybe even can’t because most ovens won’t go that high. As far as increasing, decreasing flour, I’d start with the amount stated and just add a little more water by the tablespoon if you don’t get a “shaggy” dough. You’re not looking for a good, springy round ball. But honestly, if you don’t have high protein flour on hand and have to run into town for it, I’d just try with regular flour first. And maybe be prepared for a shorter amount of time for it to rise! Maybe we’ll have a high altitude baker stop by and comment, but let me know how it turns out. I’m curious, now!! 🙂

    • Kathryn Gannon

      You do not need sugar in bread making as there is enough food in the flour for the yeast. I t is mainly for the taste and the crust.

      • FrugalHausfrau

        Hi Kathryn, thanks for the weigh in! Now that you mention it , that rings a bell, but it’s been a long time since I did any “serious” bread making! Especially since I usually make this, now!

  10. In regard to the water–do you add the 1 1/2 cups of water to the yeast, flour and salt at the beginning and reserve 2 tablespoons to sprinkle over the dough when you are about to place in the oven? Recipe looks great just confused about the water part. Thanks so much!

    • FrugalHausfrau

      Sorry I didn’t get to you yesterday; have a relative in the hospital; he’s ok now but it was crazy! And yes you are correct; I’ll take a look and make sure the recipe is clearer! Thanks Margie!

  11. shirleyakis

    I noticed you mention sugar in the explanations but in the Ingredients section you say only four ingredients, flour, salt, yeast, and water. If we need sugar, which most bread recipes that contain yeast do, why haven’t you mentioned it in the ingredients? After reading your explanation of how to begin I saw sugar so I got the covered bowl out of the refrigerator and added some sugar because I want this bread to rise some. Please explain why in one place you say sugar and in the ingredients you don’t include the amount. Thanks

    • FrugalHausfrau

      Hi Shirley, The recipe ingredients and instructions are correct, no sugar. I rewrote the narrative late last year, December, I think. I meant to say four ingredients flour, salt, yeast and water. I don’t know what I was thinking, except for most breads do have sugar and my brain must have been on some kind of automatic mode. This particular recipe does not have sugar which would give it a quicker rise and this bread needs that long, slow rise. Thank you for catching my error and I’ve crossed sugar off that sentence under Making Crusty Bread!

      I hope your bread turned out fine; I wouldn’t think a little sugar would do any harm unless it rose too quickly and collapsed on it’s own, exhausted and didn’t recoup. I apologize for the confusion I caused,

    • FrugalHausfrau

      Hi Lynn, I just usually use active dry which I usually use with all my breads. Instant Yeast works fine, too. I guess I could have specified but this works with pretty much everything. I’ve even used rapid rise by accident and it was just fine. There’s not much yeast so I think that’s why even this slow rise worked ok with it. And I’ve tossed in the basic bread machine yeast, which I believe is a strain of active dry, too.

      I think you’ll like the way this turns out – it’s very low effort for a decent result.

  12. Pingback: attempts at multitasking & a ping back to my fav bread recipe | Reagan the Recipe Hoarder

    • Dutch Ovens are perfect, and I use my enamel cast iron pot, and have made this outside in my plain old cast iron DO with the legs. But if it has plastic on the handle it won’t survive the heat. A plastic handle can often just be unscrewed and a little bit of dough can be placed over the hole. Hope that helps, Reagan! 🙂

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