The Easiest-Ever Loaf: Crusty no-knead white bread | The Proof of the Pudding

I have something special for you today. It is the easiest loaf of (yeasted) bread that you will ever make. I add the caveat in case anyone wants to argue about soda bread, but this is a pure loaf of yeasted, white bread: crusty on the outside, soft and springy on the inside, a satisfying open crumb and an incredible flavour. And all of this with no weighing (necessarily), no kneading (hallelujah) and just one prove. You might be in a state of disbelief right now, but I tell no lies. All you need is time, a cast iron pot and these most simple of ingredients…

I’ve seen this recipe in various places around the internet, but it’s originally a Le Creuset recipe. However, you don’t need a fancy Le Creuset pot in order to make this loaf, any cast iron pot with a lid will do. I first attempted this recipe in a wood-burning stove while we were on a “yurting” holiday. I’ll save you the trouble and recommend that you use a regular oven with a steady temperature.

As I said above, one thing you need to bake this bread is time, since the single prove required takes 10-12 hours. I find that it’s most convenient to mix up the dough in the evening or right before bed, and then the next morning it will be ready for baking, the hard work having been done overnight while you slept. One thing you definitely don’t need to bake this bread is a lot of money. No fancy flour is required, since the long prove is what helps give the bread its flavour, and the other ingredients are simply dried yeast, salt and water. Out of interest I calculated the cost of my loaf using the basic ingredients I bought in Sainsburys and it came out to a whopping…23 pence! For the pedantic out there, I even calculate the price including the (estimated) cost of running an oven for an hour and it comes to 58p. If you’re interested in the calculations, I’ve popped them at the bottom of this post.* I challenge you to find as good a loaf available to buy for as little money. So there are no excuses now: plan one night ahead, grab your flour and get baking!

(One of the beautifully easy features of this recipe is that you can use cups but I’ve converted to grams/ml for those who not have cup measurements or just prefer metric weighing) 3 cups (500g) plain white flour ½ tsp fast action dried yeast 1½ tsp salt

1½ cups (300ml) water