How to Bake Bread

If you follow me on Instagram Stories, you know how proud I am of my latest accomplishment: Baking my first loaf of bread! It was one of my goals for the year, and I snuck it in under the wire with only a few weeks to spare.

The only question was: Where do I start?

I did extensive research. A lot of the recipes I found were too hard for a first attempt, so I finally settled on this recipe from the New York Times and am so glad that I did. Literally, it came out perfectly after only two tries.

The only reason my first loaf wasn’t perfect is that I didn’t let it rise for long enough… Patience is key in bread-making, apparently. I’ve included that tip and more notes below for each step of the process based on my experience in italics.

No-Knead Bread Recipe from the New York Times

– 3 cups all-purpose or bread flour, more for dusting (I used King Arther Unbleached Organic All-Purpose Flour)
– ¼ tspn instant yeast
– ¼ tspn salt (I used ½ tspn)
– Cornmeal or wheat bran as needed (I just used more flour)

Step 1:
– In a large bowl combine flour, yeast and salt.
– Add 1 5/8 cups water (I just eyeballed between 1 3/4 and 2 cups in my glass measuring cup), and stir until blended. I used the Dough Hook attachment on my KitchenAid® Artisan® Stand Mixer.
– Dough will be shaggy and sticky. Cover bowl with plastic wrap.
– Let dough rest at least 12 hours, preferably about 18, at warm room temperature, about 70 degrees. I suggest 18 hours if you can swing it!

Step 2:
– Dough is ready when its surface is dotted with bubbles.
– Lightly flour a work surface and place dough on it. Make sure there’s enough flour so dough doesn’t stick to the surface.
– Sprinkle it with a little more flour and fold it over on itself once or twice. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest about 15 minutes.

Step 3:
– Using just enough flour to keep dough from sticking to work surface or to your fingers, gently and quickly shape dough into a ball. This step is a little tricky but you just have to go for it with no fear! It’s ok if the ball doesn’t look perfect.
– Generously coat a cotton towel (not terry cloth) with flour, wheat bran or cornmeal; put dough seam side down on towel and dust with more flour, bran or cornmeal.
– Cover with another cotton towel and let rise for about 2 hours. On my first attempt, I let it rise for 1.5 hours and it wasn’t enough, the loaf was very thin. The second time, I let it rise for 3 hours and it was perfect.
– When it is ready, dough will be more than double in size and will not readily spring back when poked with a finger.

Step 4:
– At least a half-hour before dough is ready, heat oven to 450 degrees. Put a 6- to 8-quart heavy covered pot (cast iron, enamel, Pyrex or ceramic) in oven as it heats.
– When dough is ready, carefully remove pot from oven. Slide your hand under towel and turn dough over into pot, seam side up; it may look like a mess, but that is O.K.
– Shake pan once or twice if dough is unevenly distributed; it will straighten out as it bakes.
– Cover with lid and bake 30 minutes, then remove lid and bake another 15 to 30 minutes, until loaf is beautifully browned.
– Cool on a rack.

Photos by Courtney Ann Photography.

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  1. Leah said:

    Wow! Well done! I am going to try this too!

    12.7.17 · Reply
    • Julia Dzafic said:

      Yay let me know how it goes!

      12.11.17 · Reply
  2. Carolyn Zezima said:

    GORGEOUS bread! I loved my Kitchenaid mixer and boy of boy, do I regret selling it before I moved back to NYC from a house in Chicago (assuming I’d have no room for it in NYC apartment counters/cabinets). Ironically I bought it used but in nearly perfect condition at the locally famous annual Stuyvesant Town resident tag sale for $50 (!!!) when I previously lived in NYC before I moved to Chicago (and equally as ironic, though I didn’t live not in Stuyvesant Town when I bought it, now I do!!). So I don’t know what I was thinking selling it since I had it in NYC previously. And now I miss it every time I bake! I have to wait for a big sale or another good used deal. And yes, make space in my cabinet/closet.

    This recipe is great, especially if you want to make multiple batches at once, store in fridge and then bake fresh as needed. For those who don’t have a good mixer with a bread attachment or don’t want to knead by hand, the New York Times also published a no-knead bread recipe. You literally just mix the flour, yeast and salt with water in a large bowl until it forms a raggy mess. Then literally just let it sit in the warm place covered in a bowl for like 15-18 hours to ferment like crazy, turn it out and quickly form a loaf, proof for another couple of hours and then plop into a very very dutch oven/hot cast iron pot in a very very hot oven, bake as instructed. The only thing about this recipe is you obviously have to plan the timing in advance so that you don’t have to say, get up at 3 a.m. to finish the process.

    Either method, with kneading or no-knead, Julia is right that it’s important to let the dough rise as long as it is supposed to and you can’t rush the process. Also, as I said in a Instagram message to Julia, the dry yeast today isn’t always very reliable, especially because we buy it, use so little at a time, and then let it sit on our shelves, sometimes for years in my case. So I always try to proof the yeast (put it in a bit of water with flour and a pinch of sugar) to see if it works, and sometimes end up having to buy new yeast, which can be a waste. But with good yeast, proper proofing and a properly pre-heated dutch oven, the no-knead bread has a wonderful almost sourdough yeasty flavor, great crust, and a pretty good crumb/structure, though not quite what you get with a Kitchenaid’s bread kneader attachment. If you want to see a photo, scroll down on my Instagram (@nycfoodscape). Here’s that recipe as well:

    12.7.17 · Reply
    • Stacey said:

      kitchen aid mixers are on zuilly today!!!

      12.7.17 · Reply
      • Carolyn Zezima said:

        SWEET! Thanks…perhaps a big hint to my husband (I find bread making romantic, lol).

        12.7.17 · Reply
  3. Allie said:

    THANK YOU! Making bread has been at the top of my baking goal sheet ever since we got back from France, I’m definitely trying this recipe as soon as I can!! xAllie

    12.7.17 · Reply
    • Julia Dzafic said:

      Do it! It’s not scary at all.

      12.7.17 · Reply
  4. Victoria McGinley said:

    Last year I made a bunch of levain with wild SF yeast — yes, real SF sourdough bread! You should bug your sis to make you a sourdough starter then take it back to CT with you after your next visit out here!!! 😉 You can keep it alive in the fridge for a long time. You kinda have to feed it every week, like some weird food pet…but it’s fun! Here’s the methodology and recipe I used if you ever get ambitious:

    12.7.17 · Reply
    • Julia Dzafic said:

      Ok I really need that starter. My sister would never do that but I wish!

      12.7.17 · Reply
  5. Virginia Merati said:

    Your bread looks great! I make this focaccia bread recipe with my mixer and add rosemary… it’s a huge hit!

    12.8.17 · Reply
    • Julia Dzafic said:

      Um YUMMMMM. Love focaccia. I might actually try that today!

      12.11.17 · Reply
  6. Kelly Golightly said:

    This brings back memories…and makes me hungry! I used to use this recipe and make this bread all the time when we lived in San Francisco…before I had to say goodbye to gluten. Sniff, sniff.

    If you like olives, it’s also fun to toss in some good olives for olive bread. So yummy to dunk in olive oil… All piping hot fresh out of the oven….

    Damn you, Julia!


    12.8.17 · Reply
    • Julia Dzafic said:

      Haha sorry Kelly!!!! Love the olive idea… Might have to try that next.

      12.11.17 · Reply
  7. Sarah Albertson said:

    That looks like the most perfect loaf of bread! Whenever I make it, it ends up being a bit funny looking. Guess that’s just an excuse to practice and make more of it 🙂

    12.8.17 · Reply