A Simple, 4-Ingredient, No-Knead Rustic Bread Recipe

I don’t know what came over me exactly. I just know that, somewhere in the nostalgic depths of my mind, there is an image of an aproned mother in pearls and lipstick pulling a loaf of homemade, freshly-risen, flour-dusted bread straight out of the kitchen oven.

My mother didn’t bake bread.
I don’t even think her mother baked bread.

Still, last week, I found myself in the grocery aisle with a package of all-purpose flour, instant yeast and a rolling pin. (Turns out, you don’t need a rolling pin for bread, which tells you precisely everything you need to know about my particular brand of kitchen history.)

But it’s November, and we’ve got Bing Crosby on already, and I don’t know, it felt right.

baking bread

Bee and I used this recipe, which really and truly is as simple as it sounds. Yeast and lukewarm water in bowl, add flour and salt, mix the whole lot of it with a spoon or your hands and let the little ones make their own tiny loaves with the leftover dough. There’s a fair amount of time investment between the rising and resting, so allow for an afternoon at home. (Introvert Alert: Congrats! You’ve found a new excuse to stay in for the day!)

You’ll shape the dough with your hands into an imperfect circle just as your husband passes through the kitchen. “You know I have a bread machine in the corner cupboard?” he’ll say, and you won’t have known that, nor will you have cared. It’s nostalgia you’re after; no machines allowed.

You will set the timer, light a few candles. You will pour a glass of merlot. You will read stone age history aloud to a reluctant, wiggly kid while she checks the oven window for progress. Your toddler will miraculously nap, rising just before the bread to a home that smells warm, bright, beloved.

You will wait ever-impatiently as it cools on the countertop, and ten minutes later, you’ll tear off the first crusty end. You’ll knife salted butter atop, marveling at the crisp of the outer layer, the melt of the inside.

Next time, you’ll add rosemary and a bit of olive oil. Deliver a loaf or two to a neighbor, keep one for yourself. Realize the aproned mother from the depths of your mind is you: sans apron, sans pearls, sans lipstick, every bit as lovely in her flour-dusted yoga pants.

 

p.s. For a quicker baking adventure, might I suggest these 15 minute blender muffins?

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  • Erin, beautiful words as always!
    I recently started to bake bread myself, I even found the courage to make a sourdough starter to make sourdough bread, and after several weeks of baking bread, I can say that the hardest part is to wait. Wait for the bread to rise, while it bakes, and the hardest of all, wait until it cools enough to eat ;) But it’s so worth the time. Happy bread baking!

  • Erin,
    I love to cook, but I’m not much of a baker. But you make me want to make this bread. I can smell the good ness of it as I read your blog. Thank you for sharing with us.
    Many blessing s to you! Enjoy your family!

    • Thank you, sweet Lori! I’m not a baker either (too much precision, ha!) but this was fun for a change. We’re making another loaf today! :)

  • The smell itself is worth the effort! My grandma used to bake bread and I have the fondest memories of helping. She even had mini rolling pins for us. Thanks for sharing. It was a lovely trip down memory lane for me :)

  • My mom used to make these huge loaves of white bread, doming brownly (real words? who cares!) out of the pan, the BEST toast after a couple of days sitting on the counter, occasionally with a ribbon of cinnamon swirled through (even better toast)… she would make an extra loaf back then to send home with this starving, independent, working college student and the memory is still fresh and beautiful.

    I think that’s why I don’t make bread – the memory is too big to live up to!

  • This is perfect for my lazy Saturday morning with my almost 4 year old!! It’s an easy win!! Thank you for the post!!