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!

    • Oh goodness —- you’re so right. And I’m so curious about making your own sourdough starter! Do share! :)

      • I’ve never done it myself (have always used starter that’s been gifted to me from other bakers) but the process is pretty simple – just mix flour and water and leave it out on your counter. In theory, there’s wild yeast in the air so the flour/water mixture will sour on its own. You do have to keep feeding it so google the actual process but it is super easy, I’m told!

  • 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!!

  • The kind of bread you made in this post doesn’t use a rolling pin but many kinds of bread do require a rolling pin (like sandwich bread, cinnamon rolls, flat bread, etc). So don’t feel too bad about the rolling pin purchase – now you just have an excuse to try out different kinds of bread! If you want to try cinnamon rolls, the Pioneer Woman cinnamon roll dough recipe is amazing. (I tend to fill mine differently than she does but her dough recipe is SO easy and incredibly delicious!)

    • Oh goodness, I’m so happy to hear my mind wasn’t terribly too far off base! :) Thank you for the rec, Laura!!!

  • Erin, What a wonderful story for a simple bread. I will make this- this weekend. I will add fresh rosemary to my olive oil and use it for dipping the bread. I had a bread machine but seldom used it. Several years ago when I had my house on the market, I would set the bread maker on a timer to be at the perfect time for a realtors showing. The house sold in two weeks time. I will forever be convinced it was the aroma of the bread that made the sale.

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