Easy 4-Ingredient Crusty Bread Recipe
For the Love of Bread
Impress your friends and family with this delicious, homemade crusty bread. It doesn’t require much effort but tastes like someone with some serious baking skills snuck into your kitchen. To top that, only four ingredients are needed to make it.
One of the best smells to me is the smell of freshly baked bread, that and freshly brewed coffee. Why not have your dinner or party guests' senses pleasantly surprised by the aroma of freshly baked bread the minute they step into your home?
This crispy-crust bread can be served with potpies, stews, soups, braais (BBQs), at picnics, or just sliced and eaten as is. Who can resist that first warm slice with butter melting into it? Mmm…
Getting a Crispy Crust
The secret to getting the crust nice and crispy is by adding steam to the oven. The humidity allows the dough to expand even more by keeping the dough flexible. This final increase in volume occurs within the first 10 minutes of baking and is known as ‘Oven Spring’. Without the steam, the crust may form too quickly, preventing the dough from expanding to its maximum volume. As the bread stops expanding and continues to bake, the moisture on the surface starts to evaporate, creating that crispy crust.
In this recipe, I used ice cubes tossed in a small tray at the bottom of the oven to create the steam effect. Another method is to pour a cup of boiling water into a metal pan and place this on a bottom shelf in the oven.
How to Make Easy Crusty Bread
The recipe yields one medium bread loaf.
Total time to make is 2.5 hours:
- 2 hours prep and standing time.
- 30 minutes cooking time.
- 500g flour
- 10g salt
- 5g (2 teaspoons) instant dry yeast
- 335ml warm water
- Mix together the flour, salt and yeast.
- Add the water and mix with your hands until it comes together. The dough will be very sticky at first.
- Turn out the dough onto a floured surface and stretch it into a long rectangle using the palm of your hand. Roll it up, rotate and stretch it into a long rectangle again. Repeat this 6 times until the dough starts to tear. It is not necessary to knead the dough excessively. (The mixture may seem lumpy at first, but resist the temptation to over-knead it.)
- Leave the dough covered for 1 hour, knocking back every 20 minutes with the same technique used in step 3.
- Shape the dough and leave it covered in a warm place for an hour. The dough should double in size.
- In the meantime, preheat the oven to 200˚C.
- Once the hour has passed, uncover the dough and make slashes across the top using a serrated knife.
- Lightly grease an oven tray with oil and sprinkle some flour across the surface before placing the dough on it. Sprinkle some more flour over the top of the bread dough (the flour over the top of the dough is optional).
- Place the dough in the oven and throw a few ice cubes in a tray at the bottom. Close the door quickly.
- Leave to bake for 25 minutes.
- Leave the oven door ajar propped with a wooden spoon for another five minutes. This allows any steam to escape and the bread to dry out.
- Remove from the oven and enjoy once it has cooled enough to slice.