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How to Make Perfect Artisan Bread {Step by Step Instructions and Pictures}

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This recipe has changed my life! That might be sad, but it’s true! I finally have a super easy bread recipe that tastes like it was made by a professional baker. I couldn’t be happier!

One day I was in a time crunch and needed a bread to go with a meal. I decided to try making a french bread with my favorite pizza dough recipe, and I remembered a tip I had seen for getting a nice crust on the outside so I tried that as well. The result was amazing!

This bread makes wonderful garlic bread, it’s perfect for panini’s and is delicious with soup! It also make fabulous croutons!

I have been meaning to share this recipe for a while, but I needed to take some step by step pictures….I finally remembered….so here you go!

4.8 from 18 reviews
How to Make Crusty Artisan Bread {Step by Step instructions and Pictures}
Author: 
Recipe type: Crusty Artisan Bread
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
 
Throwing the ice cubes in your oven during baking is what gives the crust a nice chewy slight crusty outer crust. I also love that this bread only needs to rise once.
Ingredients
  • 2 cups warm water
  • 2 tsp yeast
  • 1½ tsp salt
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 4-5 cups flour
  • 2 tbsp corn meal
Instructions
  1. Add yeast to warm water and allow to sit for 5 minutes
  2. Sprinkle 2 tbsp corn meal onto a large baking sheet
  3. Add sugar, salt and olive oil to yeast water mixture
  4. Add the flour starting with four cups
  5. Mix/knead by hand or in your mixer until dough comes together and no longer sticks to edges of bowl.you will most likely need to add the additional fifth cup of flour (once it is not sticking continue to knead for 3-5 minutes)
  6. With floured hands divide dough into two equal pieces and form each piece into a ball
  7. Place dough balls (4-5 inches apart) on the baking sheet that has been sprinkled with corn meal (make sure each dough ball is coated generously with flour)
  8. Using a serrated knife, make a tic tac toe design on the top of each ball
  9. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and allow to rise for 40-60 minutes or until dough has doubled in size
  10. Preheat oven to 500 degrees
  11. Uncover dough that has doubled in size and place on middle rack in your preheated oven
  12. Throw 3-4 ice cubes in the bottom of the oven and close door (this is the magic step that makes the crust on the bread AMAZING!
  13. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until bread is golden brown
  14. Remove bread from oven and cool on rack

 

Add yeast to warm water and allow to sit for 5 minutes.
Artisian Bread Step 1Sprinkle 2 tbsp  of corn meal onto a large baking sheet and set it aside.
Artisan Bread Step 2Add sugar, salt and olive oil to yeast water mixture.
Artisan Bread Step 3Add four to five cups of flour (I start with four and add more as needed) and Mix/knead by hand or in your mixer until dough comes together  and no longer sticks to edges of bowl. (once it is not sticking continue to knead for 3-5 minutes)
Artisan Bread Step 4With floured hands divide dough into two equal pieces and form each piece into a ball. Place dough balls (4-5 inches apart) onto baking sheet that has been sprinkled with corn meal. Make sure each dough ball is coated generously with flour.
Using a serrated knife, make a tic tac toe design on the top of each dough ball.
Artisan bread Step 5Cover loosely with plastic wrap and allow to rise for 40-60 minutes or until dough has doubled in size.
Artisan Bread Step 6Preheat oven to 500 degrees.
Artisan Bread Step 7Uncover dough that has doubled in size and place on the middle rack in your preheated oven.
Artisan Bread Step 8Throw 3-4 ice cubes in the bottom of the oven and close door. This is the most important step that gives the dough an awesome chewy and slightly crusty outside!
Artisan Bread Step 9Bake for 15-20 minutes or until bread is golden brown. Remove bread form oven and place bread on a cooling rack to cool.

Artisan Bread Step 10Bread will slice easier when it is completely cooled.

Sliced Artisan BreadThis bread freezes great and is so handy to have in the freezer for busy days!

I hope you love this recipe as much as I do! 

Keep it Real!

Comments

  1. I made this for dinner tonight along with clam chowder. Everyone loved it!

  2. Marg Caputo says:

    I LOVE this recipe…. It’s the only one I use now. I make it to the dough stage in my bread machine, adding in the order of bread machine instructions. Leave it covered to rise for an hour and go from there….. DELISH!!!!!!!!

  3. Hi Maria,

    Came across your website last night and decided to try baking this bread this morning since my boys decided to wake me up at 5:45am this morning. I love how easy it is but I did run into some problems.

    1) my bread came out to heavy and dense. What did I do wrong? I used about 4 & 1/4 cups of flour when it was kneading in the KitchenAid but I thought the dough was sticky so I put it onto the counter with some flour and added a handful of flour and kneaded it some more until it was smooth. Did I add to much flour? Or over knead the dough?

    2) After 50 mins in the oven the bread felt and tasted very dense and my MIL said the middle was like slightly under cooked maybe. Could the under cooked feel be due to the bread being too heavy and dense? I did find some large pockets of holes here and there but other than that it was compact dense!! But tasted wonderful!!

    Please help!!

    Kindest regards
    Frankie

    p.s. my boys still loved the taste of it!!

    • Hi Frankie,

      Well this is very interesting. It does not sound like you added too much flour and I occasionally knead my dough on the counter as well, so that should not have been the problem.

      What kind of yeast did you use? Was your water too hot or not warm enough? Did the dough rise normally? What temp did you cook it on? After 50 minutes in the oven at 500 degrees it should have been a charred brick. The answers to these questions might help me better pin point where things could have gone wrong. I am glad you tried the recipe and I want to help you get perfect results next time. :)

      Maria

      • I think I didn’t let it rise enough. I let it rise for 60mins but just realized it did NOT double in size. I think my house is a bit on the cooler side so it may take longer to rise. As for the yeast, I use Fleishmann’s Active Yeast. Oh typo on the baking time. It should have read “22 mins”. Don’t know how I typed 50mins.

        Not giving up!! Going to try again tomorrow. But in the mean time my family loved it! My husband and 3 boys slathered peanut butter on it and started gobbling. My husband cant wait until I try again.

        • It sounds like it probably was the rising issue. When my house is extra cold, I warm my oven up to 195 and then turn it off and place the dough (in a glass bowl) covered in there from 20-30 minutes or until it is doubled. It sounds like you are well on your way to becoming a Pro! Let me know how it goes tomorrow! :)

  4. Tried this recipe and the bread was delicious! It was easy and didn’t take forever. Thanks for the recipe!

  5. I made this the other day and it was excellent (even though I forgot the ice cubes until it was halfway done baking)! Do you have any advice/experience with “additions” to the bread? I was thinking about putting in some fresh rosemary next time…

    • Hi Emily, I am glad you liked the recipe. I have actually never used add ins, but I have been dying to try adding some rosemary or roasted garlic sometime soon. I think both of those would work out as well as taste wonderful! a small amount of any type of dried herb incorporated into the dough would probably be fantastic….now you’ve got me thinking.

  6. When you freeze it do you slice it first or wait until it thaws? Do you wrap it in freezer paper first? Never frozen bread before so I want to make sure I am doing it right.

    Thanks!

    • Hi Kellie, That is a great question. I freeze it whole and then slice it after it thaws. It stays more fresh that way. It would still freeze well in single slices but when possible I like to keep it whole.

      Maria

  7. Looks great! Is rapid rise yeast ok to use with this recipe? I was planning on using garlic and my basil-infused olive oil to make it extra yummy!

    • Yum, That sounds so good. Rapid Rise yeast should be fine, just watch it and make sure you don’t let it more then double it’s size while it is raising. :)

      • Absolutely delicious!! With the rapid rise yeast, about 45 minutes was good for rising. The garlic and basil made it have an amazing flavor! For the first time making bread, I am thoroughly impressed! This will be my go-to bread recipe! Thanks for sharing!!

      • Vicky Daniele says:

        Hi Maria,
        Are the measurements for the Rapid Rise yeast the same?

        I can’t wait to try this!!! I will keep you posted. Thank you!

        • I haven’t ever used rapid rise, but I am pretty sure you do not need to adapt the amount. Let me know how it turns out.

  8. this is really useful information but I want to know cup sizes. What’s the cup measurement? Because it only says 2 cups.
    Last night I failed to bake a good bread with wrong measurements.
    It would be nice if there is exact measurement.

  9. Is it possible to use whole wheat flour?

    Thanks!

    • Hi Hank,

      I have never tried 100% whole wheat four in this recipe but I use 1 1/2 cups of wheat almost every time I make it for my family.

      I wouldn’t suggest using more then 1/2 whole wheat flour in this recipe.

      Maria

  10. Finally i found THE RECIPE .no words …… thank you soooo much.love from Greece.

  11. Not only liked i am thrilled.Delicious bread ,and ice cubes in the oven? never thought of that.I made a bunch today ….. all gone, even from non bread lovers……tomorrow i make them again and then its …. pizzaaaaaa time.And we all know witch recipe i will make. Cant wait. Again a big thank you.

    • :) I am so glad it was a hit! We love it too! I make it at least once a week or so! Pizza sounds good, I think you just convinced me that we need to have it for dinner tomorrow! :)

  12. Hey Maria,

    I just came across your website and i was wondering why do you pout the ice cubes? Also how many loafs does this make? Im dying to try this with butter and jam, oh and Nutella. hmmmmmm yumm. Thank you so much! From Dubai,UAE!

    • Hi Zeena, The ice cubes help give the bread a crustier crust. :) It makes two loaves. I am glad you found my blog.

  13. Dear Maria….I have been making bread for over 45 years, and I have to admit it may be only a few times a year because it’s always a “project” ….an all day affair.. Mix it, raise it, punch it down, raise it again, punch down and make it into loaves and raise it again! Today I was looking for a quick bread online and stumbled on your website. I have to tell you, this was VERY easy, and my husband loved it! When you consider that bread is $3.99 per loaf in the stores, one would have to be crazy not to make this at least once a week! I really could have started this project an hour before dinner and it would be piping hot with our meal! Can’t wait to further explore your website for more ideas. Sincerely, Diana

    • Diana! Thank you so much for finding me and trying out this bread. I feel the same way…you would have to be crazy not to make this once a week! It is so easy and yummy! I appreciate you taking time to leave me a comment! If it is practical and Yummy it’s always going to be a win in my book. I hope you find more recipes you love on my site. Maria

  14. Maria tried your recipe for the bread was soon easy and tasted fantastic. I added 2 cups of asiago cheese shredded to the mix love that taste,thank you for a great bread.

  15. Evone Kent says:

    Now let me get this straight you only allow the dough to raise once? this actually sounds like my regular bread recipe except I used shortening and allow my dough to raise twice so is the use of olive oil and the once raised dough the difference in what makes it Artisan? Huh interesting. Let me know I am very interested in this once raise dough method it would sure make it go quicker:)

    • Hi Evone,

      Letting the dough only rise once and the very small amount of fat “olive oil” along with the cooking method, high temp with steam from the ice cubes, is what gives it the more artisan texture then regular bread. It makes wonderful bread for dipping in soup, making panini’s, eating with Italian food and I also love to make it into Garlic Bread.

      Maria

  16. Natasha Outlaw Wheatly says:

    Just made this wonderful recipe. ♥♥♥♥ thank you so much. This has been my first attempt at making any type of bread and am super psyched to try different ideas in the future.

    • YEAH! It makes me so happy to hear from people who love this recipe as much as me. It is so easy and the perfect go to bread! Thanks for taking time to come back and let me know you tried it!

  17. Hi Maria

    I’m loving the feedback that you’re getting on your artisan bread. I am experimenting with bread for the first time, so I pray that I get it right the first time. My husband loves bread and eats LOTS of it, so I wanted to surprise him by making fresh homemade bread. My first question is do you use all-purpose or self-rising flour and my second question is how warm should my water be when dissolving the yeast? Thank you so much in advance :-)

    • Hi Ann,

      I am excited to hear you are experimenting with bread. Once you start and get comfortable with it, you will never stop making your own. This is the perfect recipe to start with. The water should be warm on your wrist, sort of like baby bath water or a titch warmer. I use regular all-purpose flour, and occasionally use a cup or so of whole wheat flour….but I like the taste of the the all white bread a little better. :) Good luck!

  18. My dough is rising..can’t wait to have this with dinner tonite! Found you through Pinterest! Can’t wait to check out the rest of your site!

  19. Thank you for this simple, amazing recipe! The ice cube trick is genius, no more $4 loaves of bread in this house anymore!

  20. Thank you so much for a simple bread recipe that is quick too. I find it just a little dense but my husband likes it. How do I use it for pizza dough? And can you punch this down after it rises and kneed it again to make it less dense?

    • Hi Lisa,

      Glad you like the recipe. Letting it rise twice may make it less dense, I have never done that myself with this recipe, but it should and would be worth a try if you want a slightly fluffier bread. For pizza dough you can do one of two things, you can make it, form it in to two balls and let each of them raise (covered) for 30-60 minutes before rolling it out and making it into a pizza. Or you can make it in advance form the two balls, put them in large plastic bags in the fridge and them use them 8-10 hours or even the next day. I used to work at a pizza place and we would let the dough set overnight in the fridge. Good luck!

      Maria

  21. This came out beautifully! Great recipe!

    • I’m replying to myself! After having great success making the artisan bread loaves, I used this same recipe to make swirled herb bread and swirled apple cinnamon bread.

      • Ooh, Apple Cinnamon Bread, what a great idea, that sounds delicious! I’m so glad you like the recipe and you’re having fun with it.

  22. Alejandra says:

    Hi maria.. first at all thanks for sharing your knowledge.. It seems yummy and easy to make.. I am so ready for trying it tonight !!!!!!!!Just one question if I want to add some grains and/or nuts when it is the appropiate time to add them? Thanks

    • I have never tried adding grains or nuts, but I would assume you should add them at the very end as you are finishing up the kneading. Good Luck!

  23. This was super easy and delicious. I started the ingredients in my bread machine but I think next time I will try mixing the dough in my Kitchen Aid. I think it might be easier to control the consistency of the dough that way. Nonetheless, the bread was crunchy outside and wonderfully springy on the inside. Definitely my favorite bread recipe so far.

  24. Hi maria!
    So I’ve been looking for a good artisan bread recipe that wouldn’t take forever to make. When I found your recipe I immediately tried it and IT WAS AMAZING!!!thank you so much for the recipe!!!

  25. I have been making all my own bread for a couple of years now. I find that using a starter sponge makes for much nicer bread. A better crumb texture. It takes no time to mix yeast and water the night before. This then bubbles up overnight and starts to develop flavour! Quick bread lacks flavour. The next evening I use the starter sponge together with the bulk of the flour plus salt, olive oil and water to make the dough. I get a good rise on the bread and fab bouncy texture (not the rather cake-like close texture of some homemade loaves). Once you’ve tried it there is no going back! Paul Hollywood is a good source for bread making advice.

  26. Maria, thanks for this recipe. I’m on a bread-making kick and enjoy the no-knead stuff…but not the fact that I need to plan for it the day before. Just took my loaves out of the oven and I’m delighted (as is my family). My new go-to recipe, for sure! As a full time working mom of three (plus a hungry husband), I appreciate being able to put homemade on the table without hours and hours of prep. :-)

  27. I have been trying for ages and a lot of different different recipes with no success until now. Just made some of your bread its perfect thank you, I need look no more. My only problem is the cling film sticks to the dough when it rises, any ideas.

    • I am so glad you found this recipe! I love it too….has totally made my life complete. :) As far as the cling film sticking, try sprinkling top with a lot of flour or you can try spraying the film with a cooking spray or you could also try using a thin dish towel instead of cling film. I usually just put lots of flour. Good luck.

  28. First time ever baking bread. I love bread. I followed all instructions as best I could but instead of yeast I used Clabber Girl “double acting” baking powder”. After mixing everything it seemed the dough was very sticky. So I just kept adding more and more flour until it would stick anymore. After I cooked it the outer crust was very hard. Could you give me some advice concerning the stickiness of the dough?
    and the hard crust? I did put a bit too much olive oil also.

  29. I love baking bread and am anxious to try this recipe. Have you ever made it with bread flour?

  30. Made several times with a twist! Today, lemon pepper, garlic butter onion, orange marmalade, and 2 reg. Just add a little more flour and you have a whole lotta new kind to try. Honest none have come bad

  31. Loved the recipe but… tried the ice trick and it leaked down intomy oven drawer and onto the floor, next time I might justput a little mtal bowl with water in the bottom!

    • Bummer about the ice. A little metal bowl is a great idea and should work really well. Glad you like the bread!

  32. Can I ditch the cornmeal?

  33. hi ‘ i’m peivand from iran . it was 1 week that ive been searching for a good artisan bread recipe
    your recipe is really great . i just made it and loved it . thank you

  34. DELicIoUs!! Just made it and one loaf is GONE!! So easy!! Thanks!!!

  35. Hello,

    I was looking for artisan bread recipes in Google and I found your recipe really interesting and I would like to try it.

    I have a question though, is it a must to use corn meal? Coz I can’t find it in the grocery where I live. Also, is there a specific type of flour that I should use? Is it good to use bread flour in this recipe?

    • Corn meal is not necessary but it helps keep the dough from sticking to the pan. You can use parchment or heavily grease the baking sheet.

  36. Hi there,

    This was my was 6th recipe I’ve tried and by far one of the best…I even added rosemary & garlic. Half all purpose half wheat flour and it came out beautifully. Thank you very much for sharing your knowledge!!

  37. Hi,
    Maybe a stupid question but should I use all purpose flour or bread flour? I tried it with all purpose and the bread didn’t double in size. It also remained incredibly dense.

    • Hi Arthur,

      You can try bread flour if you would like. I have never used bread flour but I am sure it would work well. As far as the dough not doubling, it could be a number of factors, age of yeast, water temp (too hot or too cold) or it may have just needed a little more time to rise. Good luck!

      Maria

  38. I made this last night. AWESOME!!! It was easy to do. This says a lot because I use a bread machine all the time, but this recipe was so simple. Just to add, I do use bread flour because the bread doesn’t come out as dense, at least with the bread machine it makes a difference. Also, for those trying the recipe, if you have a convection oven, don’t put it at 500 degrees Fahrenheit, because after 10-12 minutes my bread almost burnt to a crisp. I pulled it out in time but the crust is very dark. The second loaf I put the oven at 400, and about 18 minutes it was beautifully colored and done!!!! :) Other than that it’s perfect!!! My kids loved the taste and my husband said even the somewhat over cooked one tasted good!! Next time I will try with some wheat flour! (1/2 wheat 1/2 white)
    Thank you for sharing and I look forward to more!

  39. Marcelle Duffel says:

    Wish I had read through the comments before baking my bread. I used the cornmeal and set my oven at 500 and about the last ten or fifteen minutes my oven and house was covered in smoke and I yanked the pan out and took outside and placed on another pan after getting most of the smoke out of my kitchen and placed back in the oven minus cornmeal

    • Hi Marcelle,

      I am sorry you had a smoked out Kitchen, It sounds like parchment will be a better option for you instead of cornmeal. It is so interesting how different stoves do different things. I have never had a problem with using cornmeal. I hope your bread was still tasty.

      Maria

  40. Marcelle Duffel says:

    Hi Maria, yep think you are right about using the parchment paper next time.

  41. E. Murphy says:

    Have made this bread several times now and great results every time. I like making 4 smaller loaves and using them as bread bowls.

  42. Hi Maria,

    Thank you for the efforts you spent in sharing your recipe. After reading your instructions i couldn’t wait for next morning to make your bread……sorry to say it was a disaster and i need your help to correct what i did wrong because i love artisan bread. So i followed everything ALMOST exactly except for the oil, i used 2 tsp. The loaves expanded but not so much in height but rather in radius. They were not as high as i see in your pictures but were quite wide. Once i pull them out of the oven, the cuts i made with the knife flattened and you could barely see there were cuts on top. Bottom of the bread burned even though i baked them in the middle rack. I have a convection oven and 500 degrees may have been too high. The only thing that came out right was the crispiness of the bread. I think i didn’t knead it enough time (how long should it be?) and is your dough pretty moist when you shape it? mine was very moist and somewhat sticky and i had to flour my hands a few times….i also let it rise for about 1 1/2 hour as i was busy doing other things… I also wanted to know if your bread had big holes in it? mine had tiny holes like a sponge……please help me correct the problem, i like to give it another try…..Thanks again.

    • Hi Ilana,

      So sorry you had bad results, but I think I know what happened. It sounds like you needed to add more flour. It should not be so sticky when you are forming it into balls, and kneading some extra flour into it will help that. Also, with a convection oven I would lower the temp to 450 degrees. And letting it rise to long can cause it to get to wide instead of high (the overly sticky dough contributes to that as well.)
      How deep did you make the cuts? I only go about 1/4 inch down into the dough. Good luck next time. Sounds like there were just a few kinks and once you get them worked out you will be a bread making pro!

      Maria

      • thank you for your quick response……i will use these extra tips and hope for more success next time!!
        all the best!

  43. Dear Maria,

    I’m writing this comment after having eaten a slice of the wonderful artisan bread which I made for the first time today. Thanks for sharing this recipe. The bread turned out perfect! I followed the instructions step by step and the results were great. I’m pretty new to bread baking… this is only my third loaf. After this attempt, I’m encouraged to continue. Thanks!

    Greetings from Switzerland!

    • Hello from America :)

      Thanks so much for taking time to let me know you made the bread and enjoyed it! I am so glad! Take care and here’s to more bread making in your future!

      Maria

  44. Is this recipe able to be reduced at all. 4 – 5 cups of flours is a little much for a 3 person household.

    • Yes, you can half the recipe and make 1 loaf instead of two. Or you can just make the whole thing and freeze the extra bread for future meals. The bread freezes really well.

  45. Stephanie says:

    I hate baking and cooking but I’m trying to be better about budgeting and make more things at home. My first ever bread baking experience, I used your recipe because it was easy. It just came out of the over and I LOVE it! I actually like a dense bread. I have a chicken in the crock pot and can’t wait to dip it in the juices. Thank you so much for posting this because this is a recipe I would definitely continue to use thanks to its ease of use :)

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