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Artisan Bread Update and a Bread Cloche Giveaway!

In all the years of writing this blog, the most popular post ever has been the one I wrote about No-Knead Artisan Bread.  This method, popularized by Zoe Francois and Jeffrey Hertzberg, revolutionized homemade bread baking.  Instead of making up a batch of dough every time you want to bake bread, you make up a large batch of very wet dough and let it do a long, cold fermentation in the refrigerator - no kneading, no fuss. You can store the dough in the fridge for up to two weeks, tear a hunk of dough off and make bread whenever you feel like it. A variation of this method was also developed by Jim Lahey of the Sullivan Street Bakery. Suddenly, it seemed, everyone was making homemade bread with these methods.  In the five years since I wrote that post, I've learned a few things and tweaked the recipe a little.  I thought it was time to do an update.  

Zoe and Jeffrey's approach is to make a very wet dough, let it rise and then let it sit overnight in the fridge. You then shape a piece of the dough, let it rise and then bake it on a pizza stone in the oven.  They liked to place a cup of water into a pan beneath the rack with the bread, creating a little steam for the crust.  In Jim Lahey's version, a smaller batch of wet dough is worked up and allowed to rise about 18 hours then wrapped in a towel to rise again and baked in a heavy cast iron or ceramic pot.  Both methods are terrific.  I like making up a larger batch of dough so I can keep it in the fridge and just make bread or rolls whenever I want.  I was baking my bread on a pizza stone but then tried Lahey's version of baking it in my Le Creuset pot. I really liked doing it this way and that's how I've been doing it for a while.

Right around the same time as I was thinking I should write an update to my old post, Emerson Creek Pottery sent me a Bread Cloche to try out.  Now, since I was pretty happy with baking my bread in my Le Creuset pot, I was sceptical that baking the bread in this cloche was going to make any difference, but I tried it anyway. What a surprise!  Both my husband and I noticed the difference in the crust.  I'm not sure what exactly is happening here, but I love the result.  The Bread Cloche is my new favorite thing and Emerson Creek Pottery has agreed to give one away to a lucky reader.  If you want a chance to win one of these, just leave a comment at the end of this post and a winner will be selected randomly by Wednesday, June 10th.

(This contest is now closed) Congratulations to Joann Heremma for winning!

I've made hundreds of loaves of this Artisan bread and have changed a couple of things.  For one, I do not do the water in the pan beneath the bread anymore.  I'm pretty sure this led to my oven window eventually cracking and having to be replaced.  The crust was better with the steam but it was okay without it. With the Bread Cloche, though, the crust is so amazing that I don't miss the steam at all.  If you are pretty sure you are never going to buy a Bread Cloche, please go ahead and try the bread in a dutch oven kind of pot.  It does make a big difference. 

Another change is that sometimes I don't bother to slash the top of the loaf. I've found that I still get a pretty good looking loaf, especially in the Bread Cloche.  I am also baking the loaf a little longer - until it is a deeper color than I used to.  The texture of the bread is better and I have less problem with it being gummy. 

This recipe is my version with these changes.  If you haven't tried making homemade bread, you really should - it's hassle free, cheap as can be, and the results are outstanding.  And the Bread Cloche is a big plus - you're going to want one!  Just leave a comment at the end of the post to have a chance to win one! Be sure to include your e-mail so you can be notified if you win. Giveaway ends at midnight, June 9th - A winner will be picked randomly on Wednesday, June 10th. 

(This contest is now closed)


Artisan Homemade Bread

for a printer friendly recipe click here

makes 4 - 5 small loaves (you can also make rolls easily with this bread). 

●  I use a plastic container with a small hole punched in the lid to store the dough. If you don't have one, you can use a very large bowl with plastic wrap and a hole punched in the wrap.  But if you're going to make dough on a regular basis, I would buy a dedicated plastic container. If you want to know the container I use for my dough it's this 21-cup container from Rubbermaid.  I love it because it doesn't take up make space in the fridge and most of the time I keep it in the door of the fridge, where it fits nicely. 

●  This dough is much more easy to work with if you let the dough rise all night, so I highly recommend making your batch of dough the day(s) before you want to use it. The dough actually develops more flavor the longer it sits in the fridge! You can keep the dough in the fridge for 2 weeks.

3 cups room temperature water
1½ Tablespoons instant yeast (instant yeast is awesome - no proofing is needed)
1½ Tablespoons kosher salt
6½ cups flour (I use half Bread Flour and half regular AP flour) 

Place the water in a large bowl and add the yeast and whisk.  Add the salt and whisk. Start adding the flour and blend until all the flour is incorporated (I use my KitchenAid mixer with the dough hook to do this).  Transfer the dough to a plastic container with a small hole punched in the top to allow the gases to escape.  Let rise for about two hours.  I lift the container up and let it drop on the counter to collapse the dough inside. Then just stick it in the fridge all night. 

When you want to bake bread, allow about an hour and half from start to finish. Here is the way I do it: I have divided this whole process into four 20 minute steps.  Place a piece of baking parchment on your counter and tear off the amount of dough that you want. The great thing about this dough is that you can do exactly that - bake a very small loaf of bread or a large one. Shape the dough into a tight ball, placing your thumbs on top of the loaf and pulling them down and under the dough, creating a nice surface tension on the top. Place the dough on the parchment paper and let rise for 20 minutes.  Place your Bread Cloche or a heavy cast iron pot with a lid in your oven and turn the oven to 450° F. to preheat.  Continue to let the bread rise on the counter another 20 minutes.

After the dough has risen, open the oven door and carefully remove the lid from you Cloche or pot. Transfer the bread dough, along with the parchment paper, to the pot and place the lid back on.  Bake for 20 minutes. Remove the lid and bake for another 20 minutes (this will depend on how large a batch of dough you are making) or just until the bread is a deep golden brown.  Baking the bread until it is a deep color is the key to preventing a gummy interior.

Remove from the oven and allow to sit for at least 15 minutes before serving.  Easy!


Giveaway ends at midnight, June 9th - Be sure to include your e-mail so you can be notified if you win - A winner will be picked randomly on Wednesday, June 10th.

(This contest is now closed) 

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Reader Comments (440)

I really love the idea of making Artisan bread in a cast iron pot or a cloche! My mouth is watering right now just thinking about it........

May 28, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterAnnette Crain

I've always struggled with making bread but this new approach to a very good recipe looks fab! I'll be trying it out this coming weekend. I'll have time to do it more than once if I start Friday evening...!

May 28, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterLaia

I make most our bread and would love the cloche.

May 28, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterCarolyn Ball-Hanson

Not that I wouldn't use the handsome cloche but I have used the Romertopf for good results. I have made bread from many varying recipes as inspiration strikes me: kneading, no kneading, mix of different flours, crazy starters, baking in cast iron pots or clay planters and different oven temperatures. Although my mother made bread when we first came from Italy, she adjusted to Italian-made bread from the many bakeries in Brooklyn. She did not teach me to make bread; Betty Crocker did. Years ago I designed their books; I learned by doing.

Good cook are generous people; they are happy to share their knowledge and food. You are a good cook and a generous person. The child did not stray far from her Italian roots.

May 28, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterRemo Cosentino

I love this method as it is the easiest thing but with the cloche the crust looks fantastic and what I've been trying to get. I use a cast iron pot right now but the crust still isn't what I would like. Thank you for the tips too.

May 28, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterAna

I love this bread method. Thanks!

May 28, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterKimberly Throgmartin

I have made your bread many times with great results. Bread making has become a bit of an obsession since I was given a kitchenaid mixer for my birthday, so I would love to try this cloche!

May 28, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterBarb

Was rediscovering your site yesterday when I wanted to make your Lemon Capri cake again. Got sucked into so many recipes! Immediately made the artisan bread dough and it has been sitting in my fridge overnight. Went back to your site today for instructions on how to make the bread and VOILA! Your first post is a re-visit of the artisan bread post. Funny. Love the look of that cloche. Am using my creuset now, but would love to try a cloche for sure. Thanks for the wonderful site!

May 28, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterAnna

What a cool tool. I'd love to try making bread in a cloche.

May 28, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterKathy

Will have to give this a go, sounds wonderful!

May 28, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterLynne T

I've made this bread, but never in a cloche or dutch oven. I haven't tried it, but I'll bet if you tore off a chunk, rolled it out into a rectangle, spread it with cinnamon and sugar and a few raisins and rolled it up it would make a pretty good loaf of bread. I'll have to try that.

May 28, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterDoug Doescher

Would love to try this!

May 28, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterKris

There's nothing better than home baked bread.

May 28, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterSandra Lea

I love artisan breads and would love to try this method! I recently found your blog---made the Easter breads, which were wonderful!!

May 28, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterSandyK

I just started making bread this year. I have had my KitchenAid for 2 years but was afraid to try bread again (from previous experience) So easy with the KA. Since I don't have a stone or cast iron pot I would love to win this cloche. Thanks for sharing the recipe.

May 28, 2015 | Unregistered Commenterella

Looks Delicious! I'm going to give this a try. Thanks!

May 28, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterM White

Love making Artisan bread and would love to try a Bread Cloche!

May 28, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterMaria Elena

Have enjoyed this baked by a friend. Never tried this one myself but do enjoy baking multi-grain loaves. My comment is more of a "misery loves company" category. Though my oven window never cracked on my supposedly professional range, I lost many oven lamp lenses most probably due to excess water vapor in the chamber. Expensive experiment.

May 28, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterJohn Delzani

I've never made homemade bread. After reading the recipe I'm going to give it a go. The way the recipe is laid out it looks pretty easy.

May 28, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterMargie

I tried a recipe like this but I was an epic fail...will have to try, try again!

May 28, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterLisa

I've wanted to try this recipe but don't have a large covered pot that is oven-safe. The bread cloche sounds like a better way to bake it. I have made baguettes and enjoyed the process, so I look forward to trying this. Since I live alone, being able to pull off just enough dough for a mini-loaf is ideal.

Thanks for a chance at the giveaway!

d (dot) h127 (at) yahoo (dot) com

May 28, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterDani H

I would love to try this my daughter who is now 16 and I have
been baking bread since she was little as I have also with
my mother growing up

May 28, 2015 | Unregistered Commenterrita

I make bread all the time, but this appears much easier. I cannot wait to try. And to check out the Emerson Creek Pottery.
Happy Baking everybody!

May 28, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterDianne B

This bread looks excited to try this!

May 28, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterSarina

Love making homemade bread! It is easy and so much better for you! Anxious to try it with a cloche.

May 28, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterMarlene

I'll try it.

May 28, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterJoe Ambrosino

I always have a hard time with making breads and dough. i think that i work the dough too much. I am going to try this recipe this weekend

May 28, 2015 | Unregistered Commenterluci

This bread sounds awesome. My husband and I love homemade bread and will be doing this one on the weekend. The bread cloche sounds like a great idea also. Would be nice to win.

May 28, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy G.

This method looks so easy and the bread looks delicious! I plan on trying your recipe this weekend.

May 28, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterCynthia

I have been making bread for my family and would really like to try it in the bread cloche.

May 28, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterMaggie B

The first time I made this bread was on the holiday for my family (24 people) and they loved it. they all went home with the recipe. I make it every weekend it is so good and so easy to make

Thanks for all you do to bring everyone your recipes

May 28, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterAnna

I would love to win this. My sister has everything (god bless her), but I know she doesn't have one of these. Our mother made home made bread often. And I would love to impress my sister with my new baking dish that I won!

May 28, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterLorraine Spinella

Love this bread. I'm Swiss and it reminds me of the great bakeries they have there. My 14 year old grandson makes it often too.

May 28, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterErika

Oh, my, I've wanted one of these for years. Can't wait to give this a try.

May 28, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterLaura

The aroma of fresh baked bread brings me back to my childhood. I would love to try the cloche and see if I can impress my family and friends.

May 28, 2015 | Unregistered Commenterdonnalda

I just received a Mother's Day gift of an on-line breadmaking class! I've just started watching it and he's going over the tools of breadmaking and he has a cloche on his table ... I certainly don't have one - yet ;) . Making bread has always been so intimidating and seemed like you'd have to get up at 3 a.m. to get it started. I'm super excited to give it a try and it would be so awesome to win this to make a beautiful loaf! Your post is just in time for me, so excited to give your recipe a try!

May 28, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterTerry

I would love to try this out, thank you!

May 28, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterConnie Lee

Mmmm. Fresh bread is divine. Would love to win the bread cloche!

May 28, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterCelia

I've never used this method of making bread. Sounds so much easier than kneading dough for what seems like hours on end. Pinning this recipe for later - thank you for sharing it.

May 28, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterDeborah Rosen

Loved the old original Sullivan Street Bakery, actually on Sullivan Street, in Greenwich Village. Always stopped by with my granddaughters for some bread & goodies when visiting them when they lived in
The Village. Love Jim Lahey's original recipe but am going to try your new one.

May 28, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterAmelia

I'm super excited to get in on this giveaway! I would love to win a bread cloche. Thank you for the terrific giveaway, and for your update and tips on baking this bread. Thank you.

May 28, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterSavannagal

Love making bread. Always excited about trying new ways to bake. Thanks for the chance to win !!

May 28, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterBelinda G.

I also stopped using water with pan upon your comment about oven door. Hopefully I win so that I can enjoy the delicious crust again! Looks delicious and crusty.

May 28, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterTamiko Leake

This sure would be a nice thing to have.

May 28, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterChad

I am looking forward to trying out this recipe. I have made no-knead bread following the directions in the book, but am always wanting to try new approaches to bread making. I live in Louisiana and I have the problem of the dough being too dry, so I have to always add more water. It's hit and miss a lot of the time so my bread doesn't come out like I want. I think the cloche would probably be a wonderful addition and hope that I win this. If not, I will purchase one and follow your recipe. I want to thank you, Elaine, for your great recipes and expertise. My Italian grandma and mom taught me how to cook at a young age, so many of your recipes are my all time favorites. You are the best!

May 28, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterJeanne Marie Reed

I would devour your whole loaf if I could but shall hope for a chance to try and taste a loaf for myself!

May 28, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterGinny S

I love making Artisan bread! thanks for the updated recipe

May 28, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterSue

I've had a lot of good experiences with no knead breads and have some friends that swear by the cloche method, but I've never tried it. Sounds like fun and looks like it turns out wonderfully!

May 28, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterSteveB

Would love this bread cloche....I'm addict to bread baking......right now also dough is proofing....

May 28, 2015 | Unregistered Commenterspice

Truly the easiest and most inexpensive way to make bread. I discovered it last year and I swear by it today! I use an inexpensive dutch oven I've had with great results.

May 28, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterLaura

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