“The Great Hall of Winterfell was hazy with smoke and heavy with the smell of roasted meat and fresh-baked bread.”
-A Game of Thrones

Easy Crusty Fresh Bread Recipe

Thoughts:
This was one of my first attempts at making country-style fresh bread, and have to say that it was a smashing success.  The crusts are crusty, the insides soft and gobbleable.  This is the ideal bread accompaniment to soups, stews, or a large pot of honey.

Crusty Rustic Bread Recipe

Ingredients:
  • 3 cups of water
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons of Coarse Salt
  • 1 /1/2 Tablespoons of Yeast (2 packets)
  • 1-2 Tbs. honey
  • 6 1/2 cups of all purpose flour
  • Flour to dust dough ball

Run your tap until the water is warm, just about body temperature.  If it is too hot, it will kill the yeast.

Add the yeast and honey to the water and mix it up. Don’t worry if all the yeast does not dissolve; it will finish mixing in the flour.  At this point, add the flour and salt and begin working into the mixture.  You can use a spoon, but will probably have to dig in with your hands to finish the job.

Shake some extra flour out on the counter. To knead the dough, dump it out onto a clean, floured countertop.  Knead for around 5 minutes, pushing with the heel of your hand, then gathering the dough back into a lump.  Add a little flour at a time as needed if the dough is too sticky. Knead until the dough becomes one big mass; You will know when the dough is ready by poking it: if the dough bounces back, you’re all set.

Now place your dough into a clean bowl, cover with a towel, and let sit in a warm place for about 2 hours. You can also let it rise overnight by putting it in the refrigerator, where it will rise more slowly.  You can even let the dough sit in the fridge for a couple of days, at which point it will begin to take on a slight sourdough taste.

Once your dough has at least doubled in size you are ready to form it into loaves.  Divide the dough into thirds. This is the only time you really handle the dough. You need to pull it down to form a ball, tucking all the ends in at the bottom. The ball should be semi smooth.

Now, sprinkle a dash of cornmeal on a baking sheet and place the dough on top. The corn meal keeps the bread from sticking. Allow to rise for about 40 minutes.  Preheat your oven to 450 degrees.

Before putting the bread in the oven, dust the top with a bit of  flour and make some light slices into the dough for that artisan look. You can make the loaves any shape you like, although a larger loaf will take longer to bake

One final trick to a nice loaf of rustic bread is to make the crust crusty.  To achieve this, fill a second baking dish or a broiler pan with water and place it under the rack where your bread will go.  The steam from the water adds a nice crunch to the loaf.  Place your risen loaves in the oven, close the door, and bake for around 30 minutes to start.  The crust should have a dark brown color, and the loaves should sound hollow when you tap them.

You will be tempted to break into the hot bread, but if you can stand to wait, it will give the bread a chance to really settle into perfection.  Serve the bread sliced, plain, with seasoned olive oil, honey, or your favorite butter.

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70 Responses to Crusty, fresh-baked Bread

  1. duckchick says:

    This sounds excellent! Must bake this soon!

  2. Aaron says:

    Don’t add the salt with the yeast it kills it, the honey feeds it. Add the salt to the flour to mix with the yeast and water later. Sound like the bread came out great, just a tip.

    • Cindy says:

      I have never had that problem. Generally I do wait for the yeast to grow a bit before I mix in the salt and flour, but I always mix the salt in separately form the flour, directly into the yeast mixture. I have never had it kill the yeast. I suppose it happens to some, or maybe I have just been lucky all these years. :)

    • zym says:

      this is only an issue with fresh yeast.

      It doesnt affect dry/instant yeast

  3. Trina says:

    My husband made this tonight to go with the honeyed chicken, and it was perfect!

  4. DKoren says:

    I made this bread a couple days ago for my family (alas I can’t eat wheat, waaah), and they declared it absolutely fabulous. The consistency was perfect, the taste great, and for me, as baker — it was super easy!

    Thank you! This is a keeper and I will be making it for them quite a bit.

    • Sarah McCormick says:

      Wow! Love this bread. And I have in recent months enjoyed baking breads, of which this recipe, thus far is the best! My husband and son love this bread. Am making it again today for our July 4th feast! Thank you for posting this recipe

  5. Din.of.Silence says:

    I spent the early part of today preparing this bread. I followed the recipe precisely except that I added the salt to the flour as recommended by a commenter. This is my very first try at baking a loaf of bread and I must say it was very much a success. Two of the three loaves I will be turning to bread bowls (for bowls of Brown, in fact) but I turned my back for only a moment and my boyfriend swiped nearly the entire third loaf after one taste!

    Instant favorite! Thank you very much for all these wonderful recipes. Still about four or five more hours before the Brown is ready, but it smells delicious.

  6. Jenny says:

    Very tasty, my little one and I baked this today. I love your blog! Thank you for writing :-)

  7. E'Bahn says:

    Just made this for saturday’s breakfast. It was my first forray into the world of real bread (pizza dough aside) and turned out fantastic. Great recipe! Thanks!

  8. Nikky says:

    I made this bread a couple days ago and it goes great with my mom’s homemade dipping oil. It was a big hit at our house. Thanks for this great recipe!

  9. Is it possible to freeze the extra dough from this and bake it another time? Thanks!

    • Needs Mead says:

      Sure! There are two ways to freeze your dough/bread for later:

      1. You can freeze the dough itself. When you want to bake it, let it defrost in the fridge overnight, unwrapped, in a greased bowl. The next day, put the dough on your baking sheet and allow to rise a little longer than you normally would.

      2. You can partially bake your bread, then freeze it. This way, you can just pop the frozen loaf in the oven and finish baking it when you are craving fresh bread.

      When I get a chance, I’ll give both these methods a try, and see which works best with this particular recipe.

      • Thanks! Since it’s just me and my boyfriend one loaf at a time is all we really need, but it would be awesome to have some on stand-by as well!

      • Paschendale says:

        I always prefer to freeze a partially baked loaf for use during the week, but I can appreciate that some breads don’t respond as well as others to this approach.

      • Sera says:

        I tried to freeze my loaf after half cooking it. When I popped it in the oven, it was still raw in the middle and probably would have burned if I had cooked it longer.

        Do you think I could defrost it before putting it in the oven?

        • Needs Mead says:

          Hmm, curious. I haven’t had a chance to try freezing ours in different ways yet (it’s usually gobbled or baked immediately), but I would guess that it might not have been pre-baked long enough. In future, I would probably try to freeze the dough, then defrost it completely before baking. I’ll give it a go, and report back.

          In the meantime, here’s a great thread with a variety of suggestions from bakers: Freezing Dough

  10. Jenn says:

    just made this and it was really sticky, I had to add a cup and a half extra of flour. is this how it is suppose to be or did i do something wrong??? I am letting it sit now so I hope it turns out!

    • Needs Mead says:

      Sometimes it can be quite sticky, so I doubt you did anything wrong. :) I usually have to knead in a good deal more flour until my dough becomes workable. Each batch is a little different, so I bet yours will still be delicious!

    • Kellie says:

      I found this recipe on the website for this very question. Mine was super sticky! Good to hear someone else had the same issue.

    • Miss Mar says:

      if it was a little sticky, I would break out your dough hook, and let it gently knead it on a level of ‘2’ power. add 1/2 cup of flour slowly, that should take care of your problem.

  11. lala says:

    can i use milk instead of water?

  12. Amy says:

    I love baking (cupcakes, cookies, mac & cheese haha), but I had never cared about baking bread. Until I saw this post!

    I have a tiny apartment and little electric oven, so I halved the recipe and still divided the dough into thirds to bake them, and got the cutest, most delicious little loaf of bread I’ve ever had!

    Thank you so much! It was so easy and so good!

  13. criss says:

    I’ve made this a few different times! Great recipe, works fantastic with regular sugar and half whole wheat flour also… I found it to be a rather forgiving recipe!

    Its officially on my standby recipe list now :)

  14. Audrey says:

    Thanks so much for the recipe! I made it the same as the Honey Roast Chicken, and it was amazing. My dough was really sticky as first, but I persevered and added flour as I kneaded and ended up with four perfect round loaves. I’ll definitely make this again.

    I have one question: how do you store your bread? The first night I made it the crust was very crispy and crusty, but after storing it in a plastic bag it was a bit soft the next day. If anyone has any bread storing advice I would appreciate it. (:

  15. Lissa T says:

    Just baked these for the second time and they came out DELICIOUS! I do have a question, though:
    Does anyone have any tips to keep the bread from sticking to the cooking sheet? I’ve been lining it with flour and i still have to pry the loaves off when they’re done.

  16. Angie says:

    Thank you for the recipe! I made this for the first time yesterday. The bread is really delicious and was easy to make – even for a bread baking novice like myself. I’ll definitely be making this again and am looking forward to trying it with half whole wheat flour.

  17. Maeve says:

    This bread sounds great :D However, for the time period of the book it would have been a sourdough type bread.

    • Needs Mead says:

      If we’re getting technical, there isn’t a time period for the book… ;)

      • Maeve says:

        Instant yeast was not discovered until after the industria revolution… so it doesn’t fit with the time period no matter how you slice it :P

        • Angie says:

          The books take place in a fictional world called Westeros, not on Earth. The history and timeline of Earth do not apply to these books. The setting of the books shares similarities with medieval Europe but it isn’t medieval Europe so it doesn’t matter when yeast was discovered in our history.

  18. Linda Ferris says:

    Great recipe. Thanks. I made some cheese scones and some viennese fingers while waiting for the bread to prove so I have a good selection for afternoon tea. Bread will be ready to taste in a few mins………… OMG that is delish!!!

  19. sadie says:

    Do you leave the pan of water in the oven during the whole baking time to get crusty outsides? Because that sounds tasty…

    Also, related to another commenter who said 3 loaves at once is too many, is there any difficulty in cutting the recipe down by 1/2 or even 1/3? I’m an extremely inexperienced bread baker, but I’m assuming as long as the proportions are still the same it should be fine…?

    • Needs Mead says:

      Yup, the pan of water goes in for the complete baking time.

      And as long as you keep the proportions intact, I think you should be fine with a smaller (or larger!) batch of bread. Let us know how it works out! :)

      • sadie says:

        Thanks! And will do! I’ll be trying the Elizabethan lemon cakes (with lemon curd) sometime soon too, yum!

      • sadie says:

        I finally got around to making this bread, and it was a big hit amongst my family members. It was indeed quite good, but a bit dense for my liking, I’m not sure why. Maybe the dough was a bit too moist, or maybe it was a little under-baked? I don’t know enough about bread making to figure it out…

      • I was a professional baker for a while, and the rule is that if you more than triple or divide by more than three, the proportions WILL change. Stay within a factor of three, though, and everything should be fine.

  20. Great, simple recipe for delicious bread. Works at high altitude without modifying the recipe, though I didn’t need quite as long of a baking time as suggested.

    • Nina Hall says:

      When you say “high altitude,” how high are you talking? I am at 6,500 ft. and am thinking of giving this recipe a try, and am not sure which things to alter for high altitude.. it would be a relief to know I don’t have to adjust it at all.. I plan to bake it at a lower temperature at least, to compensate for the altitude difference.. they say to reduce the oven temp by 1 degree for every 500 ft. above sea level, so I would have to reduce the oven temp by 13 degrees.

  21. Kato says:

    I also just gave the bread a try. I had the issue with the sticky dough as well (probably German average flour is different from all-purpose American flour) and added some extra flour but then it turned out really great. Though, next time I’ll only make 2/3 or so, that’s just way too much bread for me to eat. Loved the recipe anyway, easy as pie and delicious.

  22. While writing down the ingredients for a special dinner, I realized this bread has NO OIL/BUTTER in the recipe! I’m used to seeing yeast breads with some sort of oil in them.. Is this a missing ingredient, or intended?

    My need-to-know is pretty urgent, as we’re approaching our “make the budget, buy the things” deadline. lol

    Thank you!

  23. iannota says:

    Do you think Agave could be used as a substitute for Honey (for those that have to watch their sugar; white bread is bad enough. lol) I plan on making this bread recipe very soon so a response would be appreciated. Also, if it can be substituted, would the measurement be the same or would it change?

    • Needs Mead says:

      Hi there! I believe you can sub in agave, but you’ll want to use about 3/4 agave to the original measurement of honey. The bread may also brown faster, so keep an eye on it. Good luck, and let us know how it turns out! :)

  24. Naomi says:

    I made this bread, literally just pulled it out of the oven. It turned out wonderfully, the bread was nicely crusty and perfectly spongy. I’m serving it with the beef stew, my family has already torn into one of the loaves. Can’t wait to try more.

  25. Tracy says:

    Hi, I was just wondering how much of the honey is required for the yeast and how much is for taste. Being Australian, I’m used to my bread being much less sweet than this turned out and I’d love to have another go with a lower level of sweetness. Apart from that, it was lovely.

  26. ravendance says:

    I just made a batch of these and oh my, they are good! I will admit that I did not have the willpower to wait for them to “settle into perfection” and tore into one fresh out of the oven, but they are still so, so good….especially smeared with a liberal dose of butter and honey.

  27. airyesmad@yahoo.com says:

    Good recipe!

  28. Prefiera says:

    I made this and the modern minty green drink for tonight’s episode (I am doing one recipe per episode). It was my very first attempt at baking any bread. Wow, not bad! My poor oven even shorted midway through and I had to reset it and it still turned out okay! I probably used at least a cup to 1.5 cups of flour past what it called for cause it was quite sticky, but no big deal. The minty green drink on the other hand I was not as big on. The blender we used was fine at chopping the ice, but the mint leaves were not really chopped sufficiently. I probably would have preferred blending all the ingredients but the ice, let sit, strain the mint leaves, and reblend with ice.

  29. darkcloud says:

    I made this bread 1 week ago and it was the BEST recipe I’ve ever used. It works at 7,000-foot altitude! Crusty, crispy, soft and light in the center, turned out amazing in a long French-style loaf that we used for garlic toast that night, and equally amazing in hand-shaped round loaves. I am in love with this recipe. Hope to start making it every week!

  30. myfaireldy says:

    I have been baking these all day, (I’m up to my third batch) my housemates cannot get enough of them. I just want to say, thank you so much for including that note in your book about putting a pan of water at the bottom of the oven. I don’t think I’ll buy grocery store bread ever again.

  31. Laurie says:

    EPIC !!!!!!!!!! I cut the slices in the bread after dividing the dough for the finial proof . Very great recipe even better if beer were incorporated.

  32. Ariane says:

    Thanks for that great recipe. That bread is really good. I’ll use this recipe often.

  33. J says:

    I made this for my family’s Christmas Eve dinner and it disappeared fairly quickly after I set the bread basket on the table. Easy to make and delicious, this will be my go-to recipe for homemade bread from now on!

  34. catie says:

    thanks…can’t wait to try this. used my favorite go to recipe yesterday for the first time after moving to 6000 feet..epic fail! i’m grateful for all the comments from peeps living in altitude.

  35. Reg-o-rama says:

    Alright, so how did you do the loaves in the photo (the ones that look like a few buns linked together in a zigzag)?

  36. Reg-o-rama says:

    Has anyone turned these into smaller bread bowls? I could probably make at least 6 normal-sized, maybe 8 slightly smaller bread bowls. What I’m really looking for is some mini-bread bowls (so, largeish rolls) so that people can have a trencher-of-stew but then also some other food. I presume this will just require shorter times, but rather than standing in front of the oven, I was wondering if anyone had some tips :)

  37. Reg-o-rama says:

    WHOA! Cool! Thanks!

  38. Nicole says:

    Just baked a batch of this bread, and it smells amazing!!! I made one big loaf out of one third, and divided the rest into two medium and two small loaves. We have a double oven, with convection in the lower half, and the big loaf baked through in just twenty minutes, with the others in the regular oven finishing after thirty. I think it is the most beautiful bread I have ever baked, and if I didn’t KNOW I’d burn my tongue out, I’d be tearing into it now! It’ll go perfectly with the black bean soup my room-mate is (coincidentally) making for dinner tonight! Ah, savory serendipity! =D

  39. Alex says:

    I’m generally a terrible baker, but I made this last night and it was GREAT! It was super easy, not nearly as fussy as most baked goods I’ve encountered and it tastes wonderful. It was dense and crusty and will probably replace most grocery-store breads for me!

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