Same-Day Country Bread

This hearty bread recipe is basic enough for beginners, but good to have in your back pocket even as an experienced baker! It's reliable, delicious, and comes together in one day. I like to use a small amount of whole wheat flour in addition to bread flour, but you could use all bread flour if that's what you have. You'll use traditional breadmaking techniques like folding the dough during the first rising period to build strength, and adding steam to your oven while baking to create a crisp, crackly crust. I chose to develop this recipe using an upside down sheet pan to act as a pizza stone vs. the popular Dutch oven baking method because it can be difficult to transfer your delicate risen dough to a scalding hot pot without burning yourself or deflating the dough.


Prep time 3hrs 5mins
Cook time 40mins
Serves or Makes: 1 loaf

Recipe Card


  • 4 cups bread flour
  • 1/2 cup whole grain flour
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 1 3/4 cups warm water
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Flour, for dusting


  • Step 1

    Combine both flours, salt, and yeast in a large bowl and make a well in the center. Pour in water and olive oil and combine with your hands or a rubber spatula until a shaggy dough forms but no patches of flour remain. Cover bowl with a clean kitchen towel and set in a warm place (about 72 degrees) for 30 minutes. Note: you can create a warmer environment by placing bowl in the oven turned off with the light on.

  • Step 2

    Wet your hands and fold each side of the dough up and over towards the center to create a loose ball. This helps build gluten strength and lends structure to the final loaf. Cover and rest dough again for 30 minutes, then wet hands and repeat the folds. You should hear some air bubbles releasing at this point, meaning the yeast is starting to rise.

  • Step 3

    Cover dough and let rise, undisturbed, for 1 hour and 30 minutes- 2 hours, until dough is about doubled in size.

  • Step 4

    Flour a clean work surface (I like to use a wood cutting board) and turn out dough. Fold each side of the dough up and over towards the center, sealing tightly but gently with your hands after each fold. Dust with more flour as necessary, then flip dough over. Form dough into a round and let rest for 15 minutes.

  • Step 5

    Brush off work surface so that only a thin coating of flour remains, then form dough into a very tight round. Place dough atop a sheet of parchment paper and let rise for 30 minutes.

  • Step 6

    Arrange one oven rack to the bottom tier of the oven and place cast iron skillet on top. Arrange the other oven rack to the center of the oven and place a baking sheet upside down on top. Preheat oven to 450F degrees for 30 minutes to heat the pans and let dough finish rising. Measure 2 cups water into a measuring cup with a spout.

  • Step 7

    Carefully transfer the sheet of parchment paper with the dough on top of the baking sheet. Quickly but carefully pour water into cast iron skillet to create steam and close the oven door immediately. Bake for 35-40 minutes, until bread is deeply golden brown.

  • Step 8

    Transfer bread to a wire rack to cool completely before slicing with a serrated bread knife and serving.