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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 (439)

Just what I've been looking for! As a single person cooking for one- I sure can use this method to bake as much or as little as I need. Many Thanks!

May 27, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterTrish M

I have been baking all of my family's bread since getting an Aga cooker and am always looking for new, easy recipes. This one looks like it fits the bill perfectly! Thank you!

May 27, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterKelly

I'm very curious to know if using any dutch oven would work as well? I don't have a Le Creuset. I'd give anything to have the Bread Cloche as they are $60 on!

May 27, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterBarbara Nazworth

Such a beautiful bread...can't wait to try it!

May 27, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterTerry

Freshly baked bread is the best!

May 27, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterAbigail Blake

Great giveaway- thank you!!

May 27, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterPattie Meegan

Can I even impress my husband with both the recipe and bread cloche? Do wanna try. Thanks.

May 27, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterMary Ann Carlson

This would be a wonderful addition to any bread bakers mine!!

May 27, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterJackie Kelly

Mmmmm lovely bread! Please please would you be able to put the measurements into metric or even ounces cos American cups seems to vary depending on where one reads it, and I believe that bread making is a science and to get the perfect loaf, measurements are crucial!! I think the cloche is brilliant and if I don't win, think I will buy one from Bakery Bits, in the UK where I live. Thank you so much for your posts.xx

May 27, 2015 | Unregistered Commentermaggie

I love your blog...mouth waters everytime I visit. I use my Staub for baking bread but would LOVE a cloche. Keeping my fingers crossed!!!

May 27, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterChrislyn

I have been making Zoe's and Jeffrey's pizza dough for awhile, time to move on to bread!

May 27, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterSharon

I'd love to win the bread Choche as I don't have a cast iron pot to bake bread in.
This will be wonderful for me to use.
Thank you!

May 27, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterPat

I Love to make bread, and don't have much time-- so this method is perfect. The Cloche sounds like a wonderful way to bake.

May 27, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterAndrea

This looks absolutely stunning! I bake my "artisan" bread in a non-stick large baking pan with a solid lid, but would love to try this method!

May 27, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterJane Signore

I have wanted to make good bread ever since traveling in Europe. There is a family owned flour mill where I live with non GMO products so I can buy great flour. I am going to give this a try!

May 27, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterJulie

You have inpired me to try to make bread again, thanks for the updates and the bread cloche info!

May 27, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterKathy

Wow! I want that! I've never seen one before:-)

May 27, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterAngela

Wow! I want that! I've never seen one before:-)

May 27, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterAngela

Lovely. My. Breadmachine is not working so I have been struggling to make bread without it. I bet this cloch e would add much to my attempts

May 27, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterJune C

This bread is a winter staple in snowy Michigan! I’ve never used a cloche before but would love to taste the difference in the crust. Thank you for offering this giveaway!

May 27, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterRoma

Thanks so much for the recipe. I am anxious to try it. Wiining the cloche would be a plus.

May 27, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterAnnette B.

Delicious! I'd love to try a bread cloche!

May 27, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterDora

Elaine I'm so grateful to you for all of your posts and careful updates to your recipes. You got me excited about cooking a few years ago when I was freshly out of college and thrown into the real world...hungry after work but needing to learn what I could and couldn't cook! You helped me realize that I can cook a lot! For a while there, I was telling all my friends about you and several got just as hooked on some of your recipes. Thank you! I'm sorry I didn't say anything until now! I would love to try that bread cloche :)

May 27, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterAllie

Love bread more than cake! I've made the bread using the previous version of your recipe. Definitely want to try the updated version. Would love to win the cloche as I don't have a LeCreuset. Thanks for the chance.

May 27, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterConnie

I was one of the many who discovered bread making from you. I bought the book and made it regularly. Thank you!! I would love to try the cloche! I will put it to good use for sure.

May 27, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterMichelle

A nice looking loaf that makes me want to go home and make some. like the idea of smaller loaves - can always have freshly baked bread on hand!

May 27, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterBev W

Baking bread using either the Ain5 or the Lahey method has to be one of the most wonderful things I've learned in my years in the kitchen! I've used both the pizza stone and the Le Creuset methods and would absolutely love to try the cloche. The way you describe the crust, it must be amazing. Thank you to you and Emerson Creek Pottery for the opportunity!

May 27, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterSusan

I started baking my own bread at NS Guantanamo Bay after hurricane Sandy hit. All our supplies came by barge and the barge shipments were delayed for weeks. Everyone ran to get bread when it finally came in. It didn't matter to me. I learned the art of bread making with this recipe. Thank you!

May 27, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterKay Ann

I LOVE your posts and recipes-thanks for all the fun reading. Bread making has been on my to-do list with regularity and this incents me to attempt. What a great giveaway to enjoy the fruits of our labor.

May 27, 2015 | Unregistered Commenteramy mayer

Using a bread cloche looks like it would be much easier to transfer dough into rather than the cast iron pots I have been using. Definitely need to add this to the collection!

May 27, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterRipoli Baker

Thanks, I love being able to cull out a hunk of dough out of the fridge and bake a great loaf. I use my Dutch oven but would love to try a cloche.

May 27, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterBerto

I make make my own dough for pizza and have always wanted to make bread and thought I wanted a bread machine. But, I would much prefer a cloche. I love making food from scratch. This looks marvelous

May 27, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterTerri D

Oh my, so beautiful!
Surely trying this soon.
Hopefully with a new cloche...

May 27, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterLouise B.

Love your posts, would love to win a cloche!

May 27, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterGigi

I love to bake, but have not made bread very often---mainly because of the time for rising, kneading, etc. Look forward to trying out this recipe; it would be great to have a faster route to homemade bread!

May 27, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterAliGal

So easy.
So tasty.
So necessary for our busy lives.
Such simplicity will be a boon.

May 27, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterChris Williamson

I love my cloche- and I am on my second one in 20 years! I use it every week to make the most wonderful bread and even though my present cloche developed a crack in the base, I still use it- but a new one would be so much better.
For whatever reason- I never liked the no -kead bread but I am going to try making it your way as a smaller loaf- maybe that will improve it.The texture of the crumb was just too gummy for me.
I prefer the Country Loaf recipe from Marcy Goodman.

May 27, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterDolores

I'd love to try the cloche. I make Sullivan St bread often but my bread spreads and looks more like foccacia than a boule. The bread is delicious but the look is lacking.

May 27, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterLily

Wow -- I would love to add a bread cloche to my kitchen!

May 27, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterMarilyn Duncan

I always thought that a cloche was a hat for you head.
Maybe it is also a hat for Bread!
I'm a poet and I know it....

May 27, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterBarbara

I have been baking my loaves in a 50 year (that's right.....five oh) old Corning Ware cornflower 2 1/2 qt casserole. I was nervous about the glass top, but after 1 1/2 years I'm not nervous anymore. However the Bread Cloche sounds intriguing.

May 27, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterMares

This looks delicious- a definite must try!!!

May 27, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterMarianne

I have used an old cast iron dutch oven, but a bread cloche would be even better!

May 27, 2015 | Unregistered Commenterjan

This is the PERFECT answer to baking bread when you live alone and just want a small loaf to keep fresh enough to finish it! This post is a blessing.

May 27, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterJudyM

I've made Jim Lahey's recipe in a cast iron dutch oven and would love to try it in a bread cloche

May 27, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterDanT

there is nothing better than homemade bread. I'd love to have a cloche to bake it in!

May 27, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterJustine S

This bread looks so awesome and tasty! Will be trying this recipe soon.

May 27, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterJoanne

I have been excited to try a Bread Cloche. So many lovely bread recipes, so little time. Anything that helps the end result is welcome in my kitchen. Thank you for the opportunity.

May 27, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterCindy Bowers

You absolutely can't beat the taste of freshly baked bread, do you think a tagine would work like a cloche if you can't get your hands on one?

May 27, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterKristina

This bread looks so awesome and tasty!

May 27, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterJoanne

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