The cold-bake method gives you a crispy, caramelized crust that’s much thinner than most artisan-bread crusts. It’s easier to cut and chew.
This website isn’t a food blog, but it seemed like the easiest way to share this recipe/tutorial.
The recipe is directly below, because I don’t like wading through a bunch of photos and explanations when I’m looking for a recipe! Below the instructions, you’ll find tips and tricks.
No-Knead Cold-Bake Artisan Bread
Yield: 1 family-sized loaf of bread
Hands-On Time: 15–25 minutes
Rise Time (Room Temp + Refrigeration): 2.5 – 3 hours
Bake Time: approx. 1 hour
Total Time: approx. 4 hours
450g bread flour (or 3.75 cups using spoon-and-level method; see Tips and Tricks)
370g (1.5 cup + 2 Tablespoons) warm water
9g (1.5 teaspoons) salt
7g (2.25 teaspoons) active dry yeast
Additional bread flour for shaping
Flour of your choice for scoring (I suggest white rice flour, but bread flour is fine)
Stand mixer with paddle attachment OR dough whisk OR wooden spoon
Lidded cast-iron Dutch oven (enameled or not) OR lidded clay baking cloche
- Mix all the ingredients in a large mixing bowl, either using a stand mixer (with paddle attachment) or by hand (with dough whisk or wooden spoon), until all ingredients are well incorporated. Dough should be sticky and shaggy.
- Cover mixing bowl with plastic wrap, and let dough rise for 1.5 to 2 hours, until it has lots of air in it and has almost doubled.
- These two “stretch and folds” are optional but suggested, especially if your dough is quite wet: After 45 minutes of rise time, use a wet hand to stretch and fold the dough (while it’s in the bowl). Cover it again. When dough is done rising, stretch and fold once more, and cover. See Tips and Tricks for stretch-and-fold instructions.
- Place dough in refrigerator. Chill for 1 hour.
- Cut a square of parchment paper approximately 10×10 inches. Place on countertop.
- Remove dough from refrigerator.
- Shape the dough into a boule (round loaf), using flour as needed, and place loaf in the center of the parchment paper. (See Tips and Tricks for shaping help.)
- Sprinkle dough with white rice flour, bread flour, or another flour of your choice. Use your hands to spread the flour evenly over the top of the loaf. Score dough using a sharp serrated knife or a bread lame. See Tips and Tricks.
- Using the edges of the parchment paper, carefully lift the unbaked loaf and place loaf (and parchment paper) in a cast-iron Dutch oven or clay baking cloche. Cover with lid.
- Place baking vessel in cold oven (with rack set in the middle of the oven).
- Close oven and set temperature to 450°F (230°C).
- Remove lid to check bread after 50 minutes. Either remove from oven, or cover again and bake for 5 to 15 more minutes if you want the crust to get a bit darker and thicker.
- Carefully remove bread from hot vessel, and cool bread fully on cooling rack before slicing.
- Enjoy bread at room temp, or reheat before eating.
Tips and Tricks
This is a large loaf, big enough for a family! If you want a smaller loaf, you can certainly halve the recipe. It may bake a little faster.
The original recipe calls for unbleached all-purpose flour. I used bread flour and loved the result, but if you’d like to use unbleached all-purpose flour, go for it! If you do, decrease water to 340g (1.5 cups).
It really helps to measure your ingredients (especially the flour) by weight instead of volume. If you don’t have a scale available, use the spoon-and-level method. Spoon the flour into the measuring cup, and use a knife to level it off before adding to the mixing bowl.
Stretching and Folding the Dough
Stretching and folding the dough (step 3) is optional, but it can help your wet dough to take on more structure (instead of just spreading out). Stretching and folding should take maybe 20 or 30 seconds each time—don’t obsess; this is a quick step!
Here’s a 29-second video showing you how it’s done. (Be sure to wet your hand before reaching in for the dough. Be aware that your dough may be stickier and messier than what’s shown in this video, and that’s just fine!)
Thank you to YouTube creator Infermento Vivo for this video.
Shaping the Loaf
There are many methods for shaping a boule (round loaf), but I like to keep it simple! Here are two short videos demonstrating a quick shaping technique. (These videos show people using only part of the dough; you’ll be using all the dough.)
Thank you to YouTube creator Breadin5 for this video.
Thank you to YouTube creator theitaliandish for this video.
If you want to make this even easier, you can use wet hands to scoop the dough out of the mixing bowl, and shape your loaf without any flour. (The water on your hands will keep it from sticking too badly.) Then you can put it directly onto the parchment paper. I like doing it this way, because it’s less messy than using flour, but if you haven’t worked much with wet dough, you may want to start by using flour as shown above.
Scoring the Loaf
Scoring is cutting the top of the loaf of bread to give it a direction to expand as it rises in the oven.
I like using white rice flour for scoring. Bread flour tends to “soak into” the wet dough sometimes, and rice flour doesn’t. But bread flour will work fine!
I use a bread lame (a razor blade with a handle—this is mine, though it’s no longer available) because it’s sharp and gives me a lot more control than a knife. But a serrated knife is just fine! And while it’s fun to play with different scoring designs/techniques, a single slice across the top is classic, beautiful, and functional. This short video demonstrates it.
Thank you to YouTube creator loripie for this video.
Every oven is different! My oven took about 20 minutes to heat up, and I baked for a total of 57 minutes. Your oven may heat up faster or slower, and there are so many other factors that can affect bake time (altitude, how actual oven temp differs from the temp you’ve set, how cold the oven was when you started, etc.).
Alter the bake time as necessary. The exterior should be golden when the loaf is fully baked. If you’re not sure if it’s done, don’t hesitate to leave it in a bit longer. While the crust may get a little thicker, it’s hard to burn a whole loaf of bread. (The bottom will burn first, and that’s really not a big deal.)
Cooling the Baked Loaf (or, “You really want me to WAIT to eat this amazing-smelling bread?”)
I know, I know … I’m cruel. We all love the smell of freshly baked bread, and it seems silly not to slice it straight out of the oven, right?
But if you slice your loaf straight out of the oven, there’s a very good chance it’ll be gummy inside. After the work you’ve put in, that’s a disappointing result. (Believe me, I’ve done it many times!)
Now, I did slice my loaf when it was still slightly warm, because we were ready for dinner. But it had cooled for around an hour and a half by then. It was delicious, and it wasn’t gummy at all. So you may be able to fudge a little, but letting it cool to room temperature is always the safest bet. You can reheat it before eating!
There’s definitely still a place in my heart for crusty artisan bread that gives my jaw (and my knife-holding hand) a workout! I love that type of bread with soup or stew, for example. But after years of thick, chewy crusts, my family is thrilled with the thinner crust that results from cold baking. I hope you are too.
Feel free to leave comments or questions below!