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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)

Oh, how I would love to win a cloche. It sounds so interesting and then I could donate my 20 year old bread machine.

May 27, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterLiane

I would love this cloche! Had one a while back that did not survive a move:( Thanks for a chance to win one!

May 27, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterMaryD

I would love to try the bread cloche to make this bread in a gluten free variation. Thank you for the opportunity to enter.

May 27, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterMarlene

Would love to try this recipe with a bread cloche! And btw, your Winter Caprese Salad is now a family standard....we love it !!

May 27, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterBarb

I have used and shared your recipe with several family members who make this bread all the time. One of my favorite additions is Asiago cheese and fresh rosemary. Would love to win the cloche!

May 27, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterDawn

I have been milling my own flour for a bit now and would like to know if you have made the rather wet door that you leave in refrigerator with fresh ly milled 100% whole wheat. I have done Jim L's way but always did a small batch.

May 27, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterTery kretzmer

Bread anytime, I'm onboard. Tomorrow morning I start.

May 27, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterNorma

I love how just a few ingredients can turn into something we really enjoy, bread! This would be an amazing help to me just learning to make/bake bread

May 27, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterJennifer Essad

Oh my god, this bred looks like European bread. I grew up in Germany with hard crust breads and yummy soft insides. I am always disappointed when I buy " European rolls and bread " and the crust is soft and gummy. Your color looks inviting, I could literally just bite into the paper picture of what a hard crust bread should look like. Thank you so much for teasing me, but also for so generously sharing your step by step instructions. I will be trying my own bread out tomorrow morning.

May 27, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterDagamr Graham

I've made the 5 minute bread before and I think it's a great idea but much too much salt for me. I also find the amount of yeast a bit large for an extended rise. Yours looks lovely, and the cloche is darling! I love your website. :)

May 27, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterWillow

I am 67 and had never attempted baking bread until I found this recipe. I now am asked to bake this for all holiday dinners....everyone loves the texture and the crust of the bread. Especially love that I can make a couple days ahead of time and then just bake on the day I need it.

May 27, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterLinda

I love this recipe and have wondered about skipping the water part, Now I will since I know it will come out just as good! Love your recipes! The cloche looks like a great thing to check out as well.

May 27, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterTinaLouise

What is better than bread? GREAT bread!!! Yeah!!!

May 27, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterAnna B.

I love this dough, and would love to have this to bake it in. Thanks so much for the chance.

May 27, 2015 | Unregistered Commenterjamie schnirch

I would love to win the bread cloche. I have just started making this type bread in my dutch oven and love it but, after reading your post, would love to try it your way.

May 27, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterCathi Ogden

I'd like to start making my own bread. The bread cloche sounds like a keeper!

May 27, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterJoan S.

Looking forward to trying this recipe I have been baking a few of your bread recipes for about a year and they are the best I have found; but have never played with the Artisan so I am excited to try it!!

May 27, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterJennifer B.

I'm eager to try your updated suggestions and also eager to try the Bread Cloche. Your loaf is beautiful.

May 27, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterTillie

Eating healthy is my goal fr my family. I would love to have a Cloche so I can make the tastiest healthiest Artisan Grain Bread. I want to grind my own whole grains and make it all from scratch :)

May 27, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterRebecca Green

I've always wanted to try a bread cloche, the bread looks amazing !

May 27, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterChas F

I have never seen one of these but this is very cool. Great giveaway!

May 27, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterDoreen

I actually gave up on making bread this winter. Seeing yours makes me want to start again.

May 27, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterToni

I use a cast iron pot but I would love the cloche.

May 27, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterLinda G

I would love to try baking this bread in a cloche. Thank you for the detailed instructions. Nothing better than "tried and true" recipes to spur the creative juices!

May 27, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterSandy B

I was interested that you mentioned that the glass in your oven door cracked when you used the water in the bottom method. The same thing happened to my Dacor oven door. That was a very expensive loaf of bread. Never again!

May 27, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterTucsonbabe

Thank you for such a nicely written post on my favorite bread recipe.

May 27, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterMary L

Homemade bread is the best! I'd love to try it in a bread cloche. Thank you for your blog, the wonderful recipes and the opportunity to win a bread cloche.

May 27, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterDawn

I guess I need not fret when I forget to slash my bread anymore. Usually I pull it back out of the oven, do a quick slash, shove it back in, and shut the oven door. Wasting all that really hot hot heat. No more! But a cloche would simplify all that, wouldn't it? :)

May 27, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterCarmen

It is always good to try new ways! Thank you again.

May 27, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterMaryLee

Whether I win one or not I will definitely have to add this to my baking treasures!

May 27, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterMaria Johnson

Looking forward to trying this! Thanks

May 27, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterJulie

I always learn something new reading your posts. Now I want to try baking bread in this cloche!

May 27, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterConnie Donovan

Made this many times and loved it. will try with the Cloche.

May 27, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterSOmphone Patel

i love to bake bread and enjoy trying new ways. i've used the recipe above with great results. i like it because i can bake in a small batch since i'm only cooking for two people these days.

May 27, 2015 | Unregistered Commentersandra

Can't wait to try this! I'm fairly new to bread baking, so love all the tips!

May 27, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterAnnie

Could you use any whole grain bread.....or even white whole wheat, instead of the AP?

May 27, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterAnnie

Everything you post inspires me. I have made this bread, but it did notmturn out as planned.
I will follow your instructions next time. The bread cloche would sure be a great addition.

May 27, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterKaren T.

I would love to win this bread cloche and I would also love a cloche knit by Elaine to wear while my bread bakes!!

May 27, 2015 | Unregistered Commentercaryl hodgdon

I would love to win this - I think I might have a bread yummy enough to try to "compare" to my mother... Her bread is the best I've ever eaten - but I would love something close.... that my kids would say "this tastes just like Nunny's bread". Thank you for the chance to win!!!! Keeping my fingers crossed.....

May 27, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterSue O'Mullan

I have been making this bread for at least 3 years. I give this bread with a jar of homemade jam as gifts every Christmas. What a pretty gift it makes. I loved your original recipe and can't wait to try the new version. In my new Bread Cloche, of course!

May 27, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterKarol powers

This is the only bread I make now and I never buy any bread...there is no reason to! If it can possibly be improved that would be great!
Thank you, Debbie

May 27, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterDebbie

what a wonderful looking cloche ! I would love to try a round one, I use a long one and it makes the best crust !

May 27, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterShari W

Can't wait to try this recipe! Just looking at the picture I can smell the warm bread and imagine a slab of butter melting on a fresh slice. Heaven!

May 27, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterKimberly Jones

Love warm home made bread! This recipe sounds so easy; will have to try it. Thank you for the chance to win the bread cloche.

May 27, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterShirley Watkins

I can't wait to try this. Have been enjoying your blog for a couple of years . Thanks for all the wonderful tips

May 27, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterRosanne

I can't wait to try this. I would love to win but if I don't, thank you for posting your recipe!

May 27, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterMichelle

Oh I do love a good crust on bread. Looking forward to trying this out!

May 27, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterJanet Chiarella

Bread is the finest food ever!

May 27, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterSusan

Oh this loaf of bread is beautiful! I would love to be able to bake bread this nice!

May 27, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterMarcia S.

Thank you for The Italian Dish Posts.

May 27, 2015 | Unregistered Commentereees42

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