Affiliate links may be included for your convenience. View our privacy and affiliates policy for details.
Once fall and winter come along, the easiest homemade bread recipe sure comes in handy. I make this pretty much every week to go with soup, and the leftovers are perfect to make grilled cheese, French toast or grilled bread to go with other meals.
I have baked a lot of different kinds of bread through the years and my go-to recipe changes over time but this one has been the standard since last fall because it is so easy and delicious.
It shouldn’t be a surprise because it comes from my current favorite cookbook author, Mark Bittman.
All My Best Recipes are Mark Bittman’s
Here’s where I admit that almost everything I make that’s good is some variation of a Mark Bittman recipe.
That tortilla soup my husband loves so much? It’s from How to Cook Everything Vegetarian (except we add chicken).
My pasta fagioli? I think that’s in How to Cook Everything. We add turkey Italian sausage to that one. I also make his marinated olives for the holidays, and I’m sure there are other things I can’t even think of. But whenever I’m looking for a recipe for something I turn to his books first.
This bread recipe is from How to Bake Everything. I have changed it a tiny bit (the original uses a food processor, and I add a little oil) but it’s basically his.
It’s so dang simple and delicious and it works every time. I’ve only had to add extra flour once and that was probably a measuring error on my part.
Easiest Homemade Bread Recipe
All you need for this bread recipe is:
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 1 tsp yeast (I think the original recipe called for instant but I just use the regular stuff)
- 4 cups flour
- 1 3/4 tsp salt
- a little bit of olive oil
The water should be lukewarm, so I use water from the fridge and heat it in the microwave for 45 seconds. Pour into mixing bowl and sprinkle yeast on top.
Let stand for five minutes or so until the yeast is foamy and smells good.
If you have a good mixer with a dough hook, stir on low for about 30 seconds then increase the speed a bit and let it go as long as you want (I usually do five minutes total).
In the meantime grab the olive oil and a tiny bit of extra flour.
The machine should do all the work so that the dough forms a ball and the sides of the bowl are clean.
When you’re ready, turn off the machine and remove the bowl and dough hook. Sprinkle a little flour on top of the dough and/or on your hands and pull it off the hook.
Knead it with your hands just enough to make a pretty ball. Put a splash of olive oil in the bottom of the bowl and spread around. Place the ball back in the bowl and put a little olive oil on top as well.
Cover the bowl with a slightly wet towel and leave for a few hours.
A few? At least two or three. If you have all afternoon, maybe punch it down once and let it go a bit longer. I usually let it sit for two or three hours, then maybe punch it down and give it another hour before the next step.
Getting Ready to Bake
When you’re about ready to bake your bread, insert a pizza stone in your oven if you have one, and a baking sheet on the rack below that, and preheat to 450.
Grab a pizza peel or a cookie sheet with no edges and sprinkle on some corn meal.
Press the dough down lightly and form back into a ball. Place on the corn mealed surface, then cover with the towel again, and then the inverted bowl.
When the oven is hot (and you can leave the dough in this state longer if you need to) get about a cup of hot water at the ready.
Uncover the bread, slash the top with a knife a few times, and stick in the oven. Pour the hot water into the baking sheet and close the door.
Bake for 45 minutes.
I know I should say something here about how you can tell it’s done, so fine, it should be nice and brown, it makes a kind of hollow sound when you tap the bottom, or a probe thermometer reads an internal temperature of 200.
It takes 45 minutes exactly in my oven.
When you take it out, enjoy the crackling noise while you wait for it to cool enough to devour.
I promise you’ll start making the easiest homemade bread ever all the time, too.
How do you like to eat homemade bread?