Simple Crusty Bread Recipe (2024)

Recipe from Jeff Hertzberg and Zoë François

Adapted by Nick Fox

Simple Crusty Bread Recipe (1)

Total Time
About 45 minutes plus about 3 hours' resting and rising
Read community notes

We thought we’d landed upon the simplest yeast bread recipe in 2007, when Mark Bittman wrote about the no-knead approach of Jim Lahey, owner of Sullivan Street Bakery. It quickly became (and remains) one of our most popular recipes because it made bakery-quality bread a real possibility for home cooks. But then we heard about Jeff Hertzberg, a physician from Minneapolis, who devised a streamlined technique for a crusty loaf of bread. Mix flour, salt, yeast and water. Let it sit a bit, refrigerate it, take some out and let it rise, then bake it. The crusty, full-flavored loaf that results may be the world’s easiest yeast bread. —Nick Fox

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Yield:4 loaves

  • tablespoons yeast
  • tablespoons kosher salt
  • cups unbleached, all-purpose flour, more for dusting dough
  • Cornmeal

Ingredient Substitution Guide


  1. Step


    In a large bowl or plastic container, mix yeast and salt into 3 cups lukewarm water (about 100 degrees). Stir in flour, mixing until there are no dry patches. Dough will be quite loose. Cover, but not with an airtight lid. Let dough rise at room temperature 2 hours (or up to 5 hours).

  2. Step


    Bake at this point or refrigerate, covered, for as long as two weeks. When ready to bake, sprinkle a little flour on dough and cut off a grapefruit-size piece with serrated knife. Turn dough in hands to lightly stretch surface, creating a rounded top and a lumpy bottom. Put dough on pizza peel sprinkled with cornmeal; let rest 40 minutes. Repeat with remaining dough or refrigerate it.

  3. Place broiler pan on bottom of oven. Place baking stone on middle rack and turn oven to 450 degrees; heat stone at that temperature for 20 minutes.

  4. Step


    Dust dough with flour, slash top with serrated or very sharp knife three times. Slide onto stone. Pour one cup hot water into broiler pan and shut oven quickly to trap steam. Bake until well browned, about 30 minutes. Cool completely.


  • Variation: If not using stone, stretch rounded dough into oval and place in a greased, nonstick loaf pan. Let rest 40 minutes if fresh, an extra hour if refrigerated. Heat oven to 450 degrees for 5 minutes. Place pan on middle rack.



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Cooking Notes


775g flour
8g yeast
23g salt
630g water


Must have done something wrong. Most of the dough wound up attached to me and half the kitchen. I think it could be weaponized and used to subdue the enemy or large rioting mobs in thick, inescapable goo.


I reduced this recipe by 1/3 and it makes a loaf just the right size for a family of 4.1 1/2 tsp yeast1 1/2 tsp salt2 cups + 3 tbsp flour1 cup waterI also used a cast iron dutch oven to bake in the oven. Preheat the oven and dutch oven to 450 for 30 minutes. Put the dough in the dutch oven and bake for 30 minutes covered. After 30 minutes, remove the lid and bake for 5 more minutes. Works beautifully without need for pizza stone or water.


I divided the recipe by three and made a single loaf. Didn't have a pizza peel, a baking stone, or cornmeal (the student life), so I put the dough on parchment paper and added a pan of hot water to the oven. Turned out just fine. Perfect crust, big air pockets. Super easy. Will make again.


To those who found the dough too loose, and anyone else who questions how much flour..... flour absorbs moisture from the air. I can make the same recipe every month and have to adjust the flour for the humidity. The rule to follow is "the dough should feel like a babies bottom" soft, pliable, but not sticky. Whatever amount of flour it takes on that day is the amount you use. Go by feel, your judgement is the best guide..

Ann Steeves

I made this today, and OMG it is so good, and easy! By far the simplest bread recipe I've made. I made two very slight changes. First, I added a teaspoon of sugar to the yeast/water and let it proof for 10 minutes. Second, I added a cup of flour before I added the salt (I read somewhere a long time ago that yeast doesn't like salt, so adding a cup of flour first insulates the yeast). It turned out amazing. This is a keeper!

Mike Burton

Corrected weights are:681g water16g salt923g AP flour14g yeastThe values from Cedric and terryslo are incorrect.Sources:- The Food Lab- Red Star yeast


This bread was a great accompaniment to a pot of escarole soup I made tonight with its nice crispy crust. I was a little apprehensive as I took a few shortcuts with the time I let it rise (I used quick yeast) and I didn't have a pizza peel or baking stone. I omitted the cornmeal, greased a cookie sheet with olive oil, and threw a little casserole dish with some water on the bottom rack for steam. It turned out awesome and came together in a little over an hour and a half start to finish.

Rob Brown

This has been my go-to bread recipe since the day that Obama won his first Presidential election. I saved the local newspaper announcing his victory and this recipe was in the food section. After refrigerating the dough overnight, I divide the dough into three portions and I make baguettes, rising on an olive-oiled baguette tray. Follow all the normal baking instructions. The baked loaves are perfect for appetizers—just have plenty of butter and cheese on hand!

Mary Sayler

I find an iron frying pan to be a great substitute for a pizza stone. I put it in the oven and heat it just as you would a pizza stone. Make your loaf and let it rise on a piece of parchment. When risen pick up the parchment and place parchment and loaf into the frying pan. Carry on as if you were using a stone. I started doing this even though I have a stone when I was developing a sourdough bread recipe for someone who didn't have a stone.


I made this for the second time last night. For a fast bread that you need in a hurry you can't beat this one. I didn't feel like fooling with the stone so I used my cast-iron skillet, which is much easier to get in and out of the oven. I wonder if the people that say this bread is too salty are using regular table salt and not the big Kosher salt. That would make a big difference on how salty it is.


I found even with the water in the oven that I didn’t get the sort of crust I get on regular sourdough rounds. The second loaf I ended up baking inside of a Dutch oven (heated in the oven for the same time and temp as the stone), keeping it covered for 25 minutes and uncovered for 10. I ended up with a better rise and a much better crackled crust. (But what an easy and fool-proof recipe!)

Ed from Boston

I use a similar recipe. After its first 2 hr. rest, I put it in refrigerator for 2 hrs. then let the grapefruit sized loaf rise on parchment paper for an hour and slash top 3 times front to back 1/2" deep. I then place the bread on the paper on a large stone to bake. Otherwise follow the recipe. I always use bread flour or french flour. Sometimes I substitute, for 2 cups of the white flour, 2 cups or whole wheat. Fantastic bread.


What sort of voodoo is this? I have no baking experience whatsoever but now have some free time during the pandemic and a bunch of hungry kids, so I have used this ridiculously easy recipe in my wife's dutch oven and I am banging out loaf after loaf of consistently delicious crunchy bread. This is a remarkable and simple recipe for a beginner.


Follow cedric's advice and measure the flour by weight (as you should for all baking recipes) - 775 g of all purpose flour - and your loaf won't end an oaf. It's too bad this recipe's measurements are so far off from that weight estimate - I measured 900g+ for 6.5 cups of flour with my scale. 775 g (which is what I used) ended up being about 5+change cups of flour. Big difference. Get a scale and shoot for 775 g.


Texture was very hom*ogenous--finely textured.


This was my first ever attempt at bread and it came out beautifully! Didn't have cornmeal and used a ceramic Dutch oven style pan instead of a stone. I didn't even have kosher salt but I had fine sea salt and it was incredible. Great beginner recipe. PS: this makes a ton of bread. I have a small oven and limited bakeware so will definitely stick to a half recipe next time.


This is so easy! And thank you fellow commenters—since I don’t have a pizza stone, took advice to use Dutch oven, bake covered for 20 minutes and uncovered for 10. Perfect!


Secret tips for even tastier bread. Two options!Add two tablespoons rye flourAdd two tablespoons buttermilk powderUse thermometer and bake to internal temp 200 degreesHave pan heating in bottom of oven, place bread top rack.Immediately add a cup or two ice cubes to hot pan bottom rack.


You can cook in covered container for self contained steamOr use method of hot pan with ice cubes with bread no top.


If this was supposed to make 4 loaves, I must have done something wrong. It made 4 miniature, hand-size loaves that did not rise, and they were not crilusth.


What kind of yeast? Active dry or instant?


Someone called this "Voodo," and they were correct. This bread is PERFECT and perfectly wonderful! I did use Ann Steeves' tip with regard to proofing the yeast first with 1t sugar, then adding 1 cup flour and THEN the kosher salt.Was slightly too salty, so next time I will adjust to 1T Kosher Salt. Granted, the dough was very difficult to work with/STICKY. On the next batch, I took the dough and dumped it in my Kitchen Aid mixer with a dough hook and added flour there. Worked great! Delicious!

Liz Foster

Why take a lump out???

Martin S

Fantastically easy & good! Full recipe makes three perfectly medium-sized loafs. Took a bit longer than the indicated time, probably a bit over 40min.


Wondering if I still need to use broiler pan with hot water if baking dough in greased pan vs baking stone?


Do not bake all at once - separate


Wow! This made amazing bread! Mine had to rise for about 4 hours. I baked it at 450F for 30 min in my dutch oven with the lid on. Then 5 min with no lid to crisp the crust. It was devoured quickly by the fam!


Used Rapid Rise Instant Yeast; dough ready to go quickly, before 2 hrs (I set it near a space heater, loose plastic wrap atop the bowl and dish cloths above and below, as it’s been below zero in my ‘hood lately). Turned bowl out onto floured board and used floured serrated knife to cut into quarters. Covered lightly w/ parchment paper as I stretched each section into a ball & followed instructions from there. Beautiful.


I made 2 loaves from the dough. The first one (same day) was delicious and everyone loved it even though it was a little flat. The second day definitely rose more and had more structure. But if you need a quick same day loaf for dinner this is a great recipe. If you have more time, it’s even better but I’m a fan of same day bread.

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Simple Crusty Bread Recipe (2024)


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