Easy Artisan Bread

Note: our artisan bread recipe was one of the first recipes I published when AOC began in spring of 2009 and it quickly became one of our most popular posts. Super easy, with an effortless artisan crust that forms from baking in an enamel pan, it’s also just pennies to make vs. $4-$6 artisanal loaves you can buy. I’m republishing it with some new photos that you can pin (way better than the originals!) and printable recipe updated with the recipe amounts I use now. Enjoy making your own artisan bread!

An easy artisan bread anyone can make - never pay $5 for a loaf again!

I make this easy artisan bread almost weekly – it’s pretty addictive, quick to mix up, and produces a bread at home that is very similar to what you might find in a bakery. Our extended family and friends have consistently ooh’d and ahhh’d over it – it’s one of my most tried-and-true favorite recipes.

And it could change the way you think about making bread.

The easiest artisan bread ever

Beyond that, looking at it from a frugal point of view, the total cost for 2 – 4 loaves (depending on how big you make them) is .65 cents! That’s when flour is between .30-.50 cents per pound with about .10 added for bulk yeast and salt. (Tip: always try to buy your yeast in bulk. Any store that has bins will usually have yeast. It’s SO much cheaper than the little packets – and you’re going to be making a lot of bread when you try this – believe me!)

How to Make Easy Artisan Bread

Making Easy Artisan Bread

One of the reasons bread is so inexpensive to make (and why you can save big-time by making your own artisan bread as well as an everyday, easy soft 100% whole wheat sandwich bread) is that the ingredients are basic pantry staples: flour, water, yeast and salt.

You can make this bread by hand, but I’ve always used a mixer because, well, it’s easier. When mixing your ingredients, add lukewarm water (about 115 degrees) which is simply the warmest water from your tap (it’s important not to use water that’s too hot, as that will kill the yeast).

Mix it until it starts to clean the sides of the bowl, usually about 30 seconds to a minute. This little bit of kneading, I’ve found, creates a better, more consistent texture. Transfer it to a very large, oiled, bowl (or if you mixed by hand, just leave it in the same bowl), and cover it with plastic wrap, but not airtight. Leave to sit on the counter 1-1/2 to 2 hours until it reaches the top of the bowl (bottom right photo above). Tip: Notice the time written on the plastic – that’s my little trick to remind me when the time’s up.

Now just stick it in the refrigerator! You can leave it there for up to 14 days, according to the recipe I adapted this from, but I’ve found about a week is the longest we like it. It becomes more sour, like a sourdough, as it ages and I made a loaf at day 9 once and it was too sour for me. So, I always use it within a week. If I don’t need bread, I make it anyway and freeze it.

Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven

The best thing I discovered was that cooking the bread in a (affiliate link) hot enamel cast iron dutch oven with the lid on during the first 15 minutes creates the most amazing crust ever! According to a Cook’s Illustrated article I read, when the steam escapes from the dough in the first minutes of baking at high temps, it hits the sides and creates it’s own steam. Basically, as close to a bakery oven as we can get at home. Perfect!

Enamel Dutch ovens run between $50 and $300 (LeCruset, the cadillac of enameled cookware) and even though I bought ours at the lower end, it’s the most I’ve ever spent on a single piece of cookware. It’s been SO worth it, since I’ve made so many loaves of bread that it’s paid for itself many times over – and I don’t have to worry about spraying the loaf, adding ice or water to the oven or anything.

But if you don’t have a dutch oven, you can still bake this bread! Try using a baking stone with a pan of water in the oven (though be careful- the steam from the water broke my stone when I tried this, but if the water was on the top rack, it may have worked better). I’ve also used a regular cookie sheet and sprayed some water on the loaf before going in the oven. Try different methods and see which you like best.

Shaping the artisan bread

About 1-1/2 hours before you want to serve the bread, take the bowl out of the refrigerator, pull the plastic off (the dough will be sticky) and dust the top with flour and start preheating the enameled Dutch oven.

Pull the amount of dough you need, cutting with a serrated knife. You can choose to make four smaller loaves or two medium-large sizes. I find it easiest to make two loaves, so I always just cut it in half. Round it in your floured hands until it is a somewhat smooth ball, not handling it too much so you don’t loose the air in the dough that gives the bread it’s great texture.

Place the dough ball on a cookie sheet lined with a piece of parchment paper and dust the top with flour. The parchment is crucial to making this easy, since you will use it to transfer the dough to the hot enamel pot (or to a baking stone, etc.). The parchment can be reused 2 to 3 times before it starts falling apart, too. I’ve also started using a small fry pan to hold the dough instead of a flat baking sheet, since the roundedness of the pan helps the dough keep its shape.

Baking super easy artisan bread in an enameled cast iron dutch oven

When the thirty minutes is up, take a sharp, serrated knife and slash the top in any pattern you choose- just make sure to slash a good 1/2 inch to 3/4 inch deep (I use to barely cut into the top and then the dough would explode out the bottom making the dough look weird and misshapen).

How to transfer the dough to the hot pot: remove the lid of the hot dutch oven and using two opposite corners of the parchment, transfer the dough to the pot. Don’t worry so much if the dough loses its shape – it will rise and look fine. Replace the lid, close the oven, and set the timer for 15 minutes for the smaller loaves, 17 minutes for the larger loaf.

After the timer goes off, remove the lid and set the timer for the same amount of time as the first (if using a stone or cookie sheet, just set the timer for 30-35 minutes, rotating the pan if you need to in your oven for even browning). Take the loaf out when it is nicely browned – don’t be afraid to put it back in the oven until it looks browned. Sometimes I’ve found it may need up to another 5 minutes, but check the bottom, since it may burn.

You can make an easy artisan bread with great texture!

Remove the loaf immediately to a wire rack – I just dump the loaf from the dutch oven onto the rack (’cause the pot is HOT and heavy!), then turn it over. You’ll want to wait at least a half hour before cutting it, preferably an hour, otherwise it will gum up on the knife (if you can’t wait, however, here’s a trick to keep your slices looking nice).

Do yourself a favor and make this bread as soon as you can – and prepare for the ooh’s and aah’s!

Easy Artisan Bread
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Make the easiest artisan bread with an amazing crust in an enamel Dutch oven - you'll never go back to store-bought!
Yield: 2-4 loaves
  • 3 cups warm water
  • 1 TB instant yeast
  • 2- ½ tsp. salt
  • 3-1/2 c. cups whole wheat flour (whole wheat white flour is best)*
  • 3 c. cups unbleached flour*
  1. Put the yeast and salt in a bowl and add the water.
  2. Add all the flour and mix well.
  3. Put in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap (not airtight). Let set at room temperature for about 1-1/2 hours.
  4. Put in the refrigerator for up to a week or week-and-a-half. (Or bake right away - cut off what you need, shape, and let sit while pot heats).
  5. When ready to bake, place an enameled dutch oven, with lid, in a 450 degree oven.
  6. Dust the dough with flour, grab a quarter or half (depending on the size loaf you want) and cut off piece with a serrated knife. Using well-floured hands, shape gently into a ball and place on a piece of parchment paper resting on a cookie sheet (or in a small round skillet to help shape). Dust the top with more flour.
  7. Let sit on the counter 30 minutes. Then slash the top of the loaf with a serrated knife.
  8. Transfer the loaf to the hot dutch oven using the edges of the parchment, replace the lid, and cook for 15 to 17 minutes.
  9. Remove lid and continue to cook for another 15 to 17 minutes, or until loaf is a golden brown.
  10. Remove to a cooling rack for 30 to 60 minutes before cutting.
*If you want to use less WW flour, or the consistency is affected too much, try just 2 cups of WW to 4-1/2 cups of unbleached flour.
NOTE: Prep time doesn't include rising time.

I’d so appreciate your help pinning this- to remember and share with the new photos (and same wonderful recipe)!

A super easy artisan bread that forms great, effortless crust by cooking in a cast iron Dutch oven


Recipe was adapted from Artisan Bread In Five Minutes A Day by J. Hertzberg and Z. Francois (found printed in a NY Times article from 2007) and a Cook’s Illustrated story on no-knead bread.
Disclosure: this post contains affiliate links and by clicking on them you help support AOC at no extra cost to you – thanks so much! (You can always read our entire disclosure page here.)



  1. says

    Very eager to try this recipe. I like that it requires minimal prep and can hang out in the fridge til needed! Also quite interested in your dutch oven trick.

  2. says

    Thanks for the fabulous instructions on this bread. I made it yesterday for dinner last night and it was excellent. I think it will become a routine. We were buying our favorite artisan bread at Safeway for a special treat at $3.60 a loaf!!! What a savins:)

  3. Shayne says

    I’m really interested in trying this recipe. Do you think you can use a regular cast iron dutch oven (not the enamel kind) for this?

  4. says

    Shayne- I looked back through the article I had from Cook’s Illustrated that used the dutch oven for this recipe and it just says “dutch oven” and doesn’t specify enameled. However, the pictures show an enameled one and their recommended pots are enameled. So ?… I think you should go for it and if you’re happy with the results, there’s your answer. 😉

  5. Alissa says

    Thank you SO much for this recipe!! I made it last night for my Hubby and friends. They couldn’t believe that I made it! (I’m a cook, not a baker) From now on, my fridge will never be void of dough.

    Thank you!

  6. says

    Made this bread as my first ever attempt at bread-baking, and I love it! I made a few modifications, adding two tablespoons of sugar to the yeast and salt, and chopping up eight cloves of garlic to mix in with the dough. I also forgot it on the counter over night, so it had lot of rising/resting time, but the resulting bread was very soft on the inside, crispy on the out, and flavored wonderfully with garlic. Best garlic bread I’ve ever tasted, and much cheaper to boot! Thank you so much for the easy recipe!

  7. Jami @ An Oregon Cottage says

    Sorry, Anonymous, for not getting to your question earlier- no, you can bake it right away if you’d like. There’s less “sourdough-ness” and not as many bigger holes in the crumb, but still tastes great!

  8. says

    I have made this bread twice now, but I don’t have an enamel dutch oven, only stainless steel. Have you baked it in a stainless steel pot? I have baked the bread on preheated pizza stones and the crust is delicious, but I do not have the large crumb factor going. Small crumb and somewhat dense. Any suggestions?


  9. Jami @An Oregon Cottage says

    Rose- I’ve never tried stainless- the enamel is what America’s test kitchen recommended, I’m assuming because the lid is heavy and steam can’t escape so it stays in to create that good artisan crust. I don’t think it would hurt to try. :-)

    Also, I find I have much bigger crumb after the dough has time to “sour” in the fridge for 3-4 days. If you’re using regular whole wheat flour, it will make the crumb denser, too. Try the whole wheat pastry or just all-purpose to see if there’s a difference. It’s a lot of trial and error to see what you like best!


  10. says

    I have heard that you must preheat your stone in your oven or it will crack due to the sudden temperature change. In fact, I recall reading this in an Food day article for no-knead bread. I wonder if that had something to do with your stone cracking?

    I have a non-glazed Pampered Chef stoneware bowl and wonder if it would work to bake the bread it…if I preheated it. I am very excited to try this bread.
    I love bread and I as a recent follower of your blog I must say that I am really enjoying it!

  11. Jami @An Oregon Cottage says

    Linda- You may be right about the cracking- it’s been so long now I can’t remember what I did. :-)

    I’d say experiment with it- I think it should work… AND I just read about Gina’s method over at homejoys.blogspot.com where she puts a roasting pan lid over the bread to hold in the steam, similar to the enamel pot idea of my method. See what works with what you have!

    • Jami @ An Oregon Cottage says

      I use a 6-qt, just because that was the size available when I bought mine at Walmart a few years ago. I also always use half the dough, making bigger loaves than the 5-minute a day book. If you make 3 or 4 smaller loaves out of a batch, a 3 or 4-qt. pot would work, too.

  12. Cindy says

    I just made this recipe–easy and quite tasty. I cut the recipe in half and immediately baked a loaf and served with freshly made basil butter. YUM!!. I will wait a few days to make the other loaf so I get that sourdough taste. Thank you for a great recipe!

  13. says

    This was super easy and good. My son asked, “Why haven’t you done this before?” I made mine in a large Walmart enamel dutch oven which I bough specifically for this. LOVE <3

  14. Anonymous says

    I’m making this now…in rising stage…I’ll be using an unfinished terra cotta pan which I ‘seasoned’ for 24 hours (this is done for first time use) and then prepped with vegetable oil so I could use it tonight to bake the bread . I smell the sourdough aroma as it rises.

    • Jami says

      Not sure how that would work, Christine, but a friend of mine bakes artisan bread on a pizza stone and covers it the first 15 min. with a roasting pan cover. Would that work for you?

  15. Heather says

    This is so good. I also love to add white chocolate chips with craisins, or some chopped garlic with some chopped jalepenos. Yummy, any way.

  16. Andrea says

    I just tried making this bread. I decided to let it “age” for 3 days in the fridge, so as to keep it from being too sour, but it’s still pretty strong tasting. Is that normal? My family isn’t used to sourdough, though, so maybe it’s just us. Also, it had a really small crumb and was pretty dense, but I’m guessing that’s from the higher percentage of whole wheat flour I used (I used 4.5 cups whole wheat and 2 cups white flour, so inverted from your original recipe). Anyways, I’ll keep playing with it. Bread can be so complicated! Especially when I’m trying to make it as high in whole wheat as possible.

    • says

      Yes, I’ve found the more WW flour you add, the more dense the bread. Keeping the dough as “wet” as possible helps create interior holes as well. If you don’t want too much of a sour taste, bake the bread on the first or second day. It gets more ‘sour-y’ the longer it sits in the fridge. And, yes, keep trying different ways to make a loaf your whole family likes. :)

  17. Grace says

    I made one recipe into two pizzas. I pre-baked them for five minutes at 450 and then 20 minutes at 350 w/ toppings on. I recommend poking holes throughout the dough to avoid huge bubbles developing. this made for a thick crusted pizza.

  18. Dorothy says

    This was my first time making bread. I was so excited when it rose on the counter, but then when I put it in the fridge it shrunk back down again. Is that normal? It barely rose at all when I baked the first loaf. Yummy, but dense. I made a small loaf so I have three more chances, I think maybe I didn’t bake it long enough.

    • says

      It does shrink a bit in the fridge, but should rise again at room temp – try leaving it on the counter longer and see if that helps, Dorothy.

  19. Debbie says

    What size enamel pot do you use? Does it have to be enamel or can it be cast iron only?
    I love your site and pictures!

    • says

      Hi Debbie! The pot pictured is a 6-quart enameled cast iron pot. It doesn’t need to be that big, though – a 4 or 5 qt. would work as well. I’ve read of others who use a plain cast iron, so it should probably work!

  20. Carlye says

    Hi! I have been wanting to try your artisan bread recipe but am a bit confused. In your update you said that you used 2 C whole wheat and 4 1/2 C white but in the actual recipe the old measurements are in parenthesis for the flours and the new measurements for salt and yeast are in the parenthesis. Is this correct? I want to try making the bread but want to make sure I understand correctly. I would appreciate any clarification. Thanks!

    • says

      When I updated the salt and yeast measurements – the new are in the parentheses – I also updated the flours to reflect how I made it then with more equal WW to Unbleached measurements. Feel free to make this with any variety of flour you find your family likes – all unbleached, the 4 to 2 1/2-c. measurement or the 3 to 3 1/2-c. – it won’t matter. The loaf is lightest with all unbleached, obviously, and my family has become okay with adding more WW, but some may not like the heavier crumb it creates. Play around with it and see what your family likes. But do use the lower amounts of yeast and salt, ’cause I think it’s better for us and the initial dough doesn’t rise as crazily. :)

      • Carlye says

        Thank you so much for the additional info Jami! I am ready to go mix up some bread! I discovered your site this summer when I was looking for a recipe for individual berry cobblers. I made 65 for my son’s wedding rehearsal dinner and they were a huge hit! I’ve been following you ever since and want to say “thank you” and I love your ideas and recipes. Carlye in Central Oregon

  21. jen says

    I stumbled upon your recipe and plan to try it soon. I also have the Walmart enamel cast iron pot, and wonder if you’ve had issues with the knob melting in the oven when baking at 450? I heard that it would melt, so I removed my knob and plugged the hole with foil, but it’s a pain to remove the lid that way. I’d rather just replace the old knob. Just wondering. Thanks for a great recipe and clear directions!

    • says

      I’ve not had a problem, Jen, and I’ve been using it now for a couple of years on a regular basis. I did know that they didn’t recommend it, but that’s what I bought it for, so I went ahead and used it like I needed. Hope it does okay for you – that would be hard to lift the heavy, hot lid without the knob!

  22. Melissa says

    I’m excited to try this recipe, but I don’t have a dutch oven. I’ve heard that you can just fill your broiler pan with water and place it on the bottom rack for steam purposes. Has anyone tried that method before? It seem like it should work, going to give it a try. Thanks so much for the recipe :)

    • says

      Sure, Melissa – I used to do it that way, it’s just easier with the dutch oven to get the good crust. You can also mist the bread with water before putting it in the oven. Just be careful if you use a baking stone and water in a pan – the steam broke my stone when I tried it. I think it was too close to it, so leave a space between the pan of water and your stone. :)

  23. Dee says

    I was born in Germany and came to the US from Bavaria as a teenager in the mid 1950s. My brother in law had a bakery/confectionery cafe. They made sour dough bread that took 33 days to make. It was delicious. My biggest disappointment when I arrived in the US was the bread. There was only factory made white bread at the time.
    I am happy that this has changed during the last 50 years.
    I was ecstatic when a Walmart Super Center opened within a short driving distance from me several years ago and had ‘Sourdough just like in Bavaria’. I love Sourdough bread. My preference is a heavier doughier texture without holes.
    My age and dental issues limit me to a soft crust. Tough chewy, or hard and brittle crusts are out.
    When the Walmart Super Center first opened, I could get exactly that type of freshly baked bread.
    Within 3 weeks it became scarce. I could only find some early, first thing in the morning on certain days. After another 6 weeks it disappeared totally.
    I found other higher end food stores that had the exact bread I preferred, but within several months it was replace with ‘Twice baked’ bread branded as ‘Fresh baked’. No one admits this, but this type of bread (also rolls) arrives pre-baked without a perceptible crust at the stores. The stores then ‘bake’ it, instead of just warming it. This twice baked bread make for a brittle thick crust, which not only kills the bread eating experience, but also my sore gums.

    I have recently purchased a 6 quart professional ‘Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer’ with the intend of making my own ‘Dense, heavy texture, sourdough bread (without holes or minimum holes in the bread).

    Is it possible for you to post recipe adjustments which would result in the type of bread I and maybe other seniors prefer?
    And is it possible to to make it instantly without the 3 day wait but retaining the slightly sour taste?

    • says

      That’s the first time I’ve been asked that, Dee! Most people are looking for a light, airy and hole-y texture. :) I think your solution to make your own is a great one. Yes, you can make this bread immediately, but it won’t taste sour – and if fact only has the slightest sour taste after sitting in the fridge awhile. I do have a sourdough artisan bread recipe (check the recipe index) that uses a starter. With most of these breads, you can create a softer crust by just baking regularly on a cookie sheet (no enamel pot, spraying water or anything) and a trick I use for softer sandwich bread is to wrap the loaf in a towel as it’s cooling, which may work for this bread, too. And you can pretty much make any bread more dense by using less water. :) Have fun experimenting!

      • Dee says

        Thank You Jamie.
        Where I said:”They made sour dough bread that took 33 days to make”, I meant 3 days. I noticed my typo right after posting, but found no way to edit.
        I should also have mentioned that they used to let the dough rise and then kneaded it down again to remove air bubbles. They did this cycle once a day for each of 3 days. It was explained to that this was done to get all air bubbles out to make denser bread.
        Having accepted this reasoning as logical, I had been searching for an automatic machine which would compress the dough inside a cavity, to remove the air bubbles.

        1. Does this explanation for deleting air bubbles in the dough sound reasonable to you?
        It was after all over 65 years ago. I do however remember many details back to even 72 years ago when I was 1 1/2 years old.

        2. If any of your readers have ever heard of this or similar air removal process, can someone verify and confirm?

        3. If there is such a machine that compress/kneads bread dough could someone point it out?

        :) Thanks in advance

  24. Holly Masri says

    This message is for Dee– I suggest that you take a look at The Laurel’s Kitchen Bread Book, by Laurel Robertson. It’s for sale on Amazon. The book has been around a long time, and has a whole lot of good recipes for whole grain breads, and (what made me particularly think of you), there are a lot of European-style, denser breads in it. Keep going– you’ll figure it out! :)

  25. Erin says

    We are vendors at a farmer’s market and our market “neighbor” is a family friend who makes and sells artisan breads. We can’t afford to buy her bread all the time so I looked for a recipe and directions on line and found your site. I made a loaf of this this bread last night and my children thanked me over and over. I used all white bread flour and the original amts of salt and yeast for my first attempt and it was so good. As I make baked goods for the market I can only manage so many types of 25 pound bags of flour in my small home so we will be sticking with white for a while. Can’t wait to experiment with different flavors…onion dill…cheddar…olive…

    With our large family I will probably mix up a double batch every other day and make two large loaves a day. Your method is so simple with amazing results that I think I can finally keep up with the bread required for a family of eight. Thanks!

  26. Lisa says

    So glad I found your recipe for this I have been wanting to try baking crusty bread preferably multi grain, the closest thing I’ve come close to mastering in breads is my cinnamon rolls. I’ve been scared to bake breads and yeast rolls but after reading your recipe and comments I feel I can give it a try. I also make many baked treats for a Farmer’s Market and wonder if you know how many days this bread will stay good to eat after baking it—I know that question will be asked by others at the market besides myself. I have a Dutch oven and can’t wait to try it I’ll be going to buy my whole wheat white flour tomorrow!! Also have you experimented with adding flax seeds, or oats –any other ingredients to add more texture? Thank you :)

    • says

      Thank you Lisa – I hope you have a good experience with this, too! I haven’t added more than garlic and herbs, but I’m sure it would be great with other things. Personally, I like this bread best the first couple of days and after that we just toast it and it’s pretty perfect again. :)

  27. Kris says

    Has anyone tried to make this bread gluten-free or have any suggestions on how to make it gluten-free? Maybe it’s not possible!

  28. Kathy says

    I found this site the other day and decided to experiment. See, I very seldom use yeast. But I made 2 batches, one fallowing your recipe, and another using sourdough starter in place of the yeast. I used 9 oz. starter and decreased the flour by 3/4 cup and decreased the water by 1/2 cup. Both doughs were extremely wet. So wet I had to add a bit of flour. (next time may not eliminate the 3/4 c. flour with the starter). After the bake, They both rose the same and they both tasted very good. I did have to cook them both about 10 minutes longer then stated as well. But all in all, I will make this often.

      • Kathy says

        Well, would you look at that…a sourdough recipe! Teach me to dig deeper. LOL Thank you for the link. much appreciated. I will give that a shot in a couple days or so and then get back to you on how it goes. It looks wonderful. I have such a hard time getting that crisp crackly crust no matter what I try. maybe that one will do the trick. Again, thank you!

  29. Betsy says

    Love the recipe! I just made a sourdough loaf last night with starter I started last week. It really gets going in the summer.

    One thing that I do to make steam in my oven when I first put the bread in, is to throw ice cubes into the bottom of my oven. That makes steam and is easier than spraying the loaf. Last night I brushed the bread with olive oil before baking and the crust was fabulous. Usually my son doesn’t like the crust, but he was eating it last night!

    Love the blog!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>