Sunday, November 2, 2014

Parmesan Thyme Crusty Bread

When I pulled this bread out of the oven, based on my excitement, you would have thought that I had just won the lottery.  I think I might have even exclaimed "I AM THE BREAD MAKING MASTER OF THE UNIVERSE" so loud that the neighbors heard me.  Just kidding.  That was all in my head, but that is how I felt.    

I always thought that baking breads like this at home was impossible and reserved just for the professional bread bakers.  Well, I am here to tell you that you too can make beautiful, rustic, crusty loaves of bread.  And you want to know the best part?  It was so easy! 

This recipe comes from Janet over at Simply So Good.  Her blog is one of my absolute favorite places to get lost in recipes.  She too, posts step-by-step pictures for all of her recipes, making it so easy to follow along.  If you head over to her blog, you will see that this is her most popular recipe and it is there where she has the answers to any and all of the questions you may have about this bread.  

This bread is so flipping good.  Just as good as any bakery bread out there.  Minimal ingredients.  Minimal effort.  Fabulous result.  I'm sold.  

The original recipe calls from all-purpose flour but I used unbleached bread flour.

Dry yeast and kosher salt.  I don't even buy regular salt anymore.  Kosher has milder, non-metallic taste.  

Whisk the salt and yeast in very well.

Chop up some fresh thyme.  This is where you can get creative with what you have on hand or personal preference.  Rosemary, gruyere, lemon zest, seeds, nuts, dried fruit all would work well or plain would be delicious as well.

I always have fresh Parmesan on hand.  Each week,  I buy a block of parmigiano reggiano and grind it up with my food processor.  Put it in an air tight container in the fridge and it will keep for a few weeks.

Whisk in the flavorings.

I used warm water.  No need to get scientific here, just make sure the water is not hot and not cold, but warm.

Mix the water in with a spatula.

Mine was a bit dry so I added about 2 tablespoons of water to bring it all together.  Be very careful not to add too much water or the bread will turn out flat.

Now this is a no-knead recipe, but I like to get in wit my hands to make sure all of the dry bits are absorbed in the dough.

Now cover and forget about it for 12-18 hours.  When you make this, make sure you note when that will be as you don't want to have to get up in the middle of the night to finish the job.

This is what my dough looked like after sitting for 14 hours.  The yeast does all of the work for you!

My Le Creuset is one of the most used things in my kitchen.  I think mine is about 7 quarts. This thing is sturdy and holds heat in like it is it's job.

I  use it as my crockpot for many slow cooking dishes.   And now, it is a bread maker as well!   Preheat oven to 450 and then place pot and lid in oven for 30 minutes.

While the pot is heating in oven, turn dough out onto heavily floured surface. It will stick to the bowl but just use your hands to scrape every last bit out.

Using floured hands, form the dough into a pretty little ball.  No need to make it perfect.  This is rustic y'all!

Once pan has been heating in the 450 degree oven for 30 minutes, take it out and remove the lid.  Drop the ball of dough right into that hot pan.  You will hear a slight sizzle... an indication of the crusty-crust to come! I sprinkled a little more flour on the top for a bakery-like appearance.

Now, bake with lid on for 30 minutes.  The waiting was agony.  I have failed breads too many times and was seeing images of flat or burnt breads from the past in my head.  But when the 30 minutes was up and I removed the lid, this is what I saw...

WHAT?!?!?!  I DID IT!!!  Oh and it smelled soooooo good. I could now breathe a sigh of relief.  Smooth sailing from here.  Just a little bit more time in the oven with the lid off and you are now THE BREAD MAKING MASTER OF THE UNIVERSE!!  Slather with butter and enjoy!

Parmesan Thyme Crusty Bread
3 cups flour (I used bread flour but all purpose works as well)
1 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon dry yeast
2 teaspoons fresh thyme
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 1/2 cups warm water

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, yeast, thyme and Parmesan cheese.  Pour water in and mix with a spatula until combined.  The mixture will be dry so try to use your hands to knead all of the dry bits into the dough.  If needed, add 1 or 2 tablespoons of water and lightly knead until a ball is formed.  

Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let it sit on your kitchen counter for 12-18 hours.  When time has passed and dough has risen, preheat the oven to 450 degrees.  Once oven has heated, place enamel pot and lid in oven for 30 minutes.  

While pot is heating in the oven, heavily flour your counter.  Pour the dough out onto the floured surface.  Using floured hands, gently form the dough into a smooth ball.  Cover with plastic wrap and let it sit on the counter until the pan is ready. 

When the 30 minutes is up, remove pan from the oven.  Do not grease the pan.  Drop the ball of dough directly into the hot pot.  I sprinkled a little more flour on top to get that authentic bakery look.  Place lid on pot and return bread to oven and cook for 30 minutes.  

Once the 30 minutes is up, remove the pot from oven and take the lid off of the pan.  Place pan back in the oven without the lid and cook for another 12-15 minutes.  Remove from oven and with pot holders or a kitchen towel, remove bread from pan and place on a cooling rack.  Let bread cool for at least 40 minutes before cutting.  


  1. Hi! Love all your recipes and am especially looking forward to trying out this bread. However, quick question - if I don't have a Le Creuset, can something else similar work just as good? Thanks so much!

    1. Hi there Anjali! Thank you so much for checking out my blog! Just checked the original recipe site and in her FAQ's, she said this:

      Q: Do I have to use an enamel covered cast iron pan?

      A: No. You can use anything that can take the heat. The following have been used that I know of:
      Clay pots with lids, Pizza stone with a bowl to cover the bread, insert from a crockpot, pyrex baking dish with a lid, stainless steel pot with a lid, baking dish covered with aluminum foil, old cast iron dutch oven

      Janet also has an entire page dedicated to questions regarding this bread:

      Hope this helps!!

    2. Thanks so much!! I ended up using my Corningware stoneware pot and lid and it turned out perfectly! It was a huge hit at Thanksgiving - as were your truffled mushroom deviled eggs! Next up, I will be trying out the Thomas Keller brownies for a sweet treat exchange! Thanks again for all the recipes!

    3. Wonderful! So thrilled to hear that you and your family enjoyed some recipes for your special meal! The brownies are TO DIE FOR! So rich and chocolate-y :)


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