Fresh baked bread is one of the delights in the lives of eaters as made apparent by “fresh bread” heated racks adjacent to checkout aisles in grocery stores. It is also a breeze to make with the right recipe.

My best friend, a San Diego gal whose family resides in Texas, visited San Francisco earlier this year and discovered a newfound appreciation for artisanal bread, inspiring her to seek out the procedures involved. When she visited North Texas over Christmas, she shared a no-knead recipe with me and her family. Altogether we’ve made four loaves since her arrival on Dec. 25.

Counting yesterday, when the latest bread was baked, that’s a loaf a day. If that’s not a testament to how easy this recipe is, I don’t know what would be.

Keep in mind it does take eight hours for the dough to rise before baking, so plan accordingly.

Baking your own bread gives you the satisfaction of freshness, however, it retains its freshness for about a day. The best way to ensure your preservative-free bread is eaten at its peak is to surround yourself with those you love and break it up among yourselves soon after it is baked.

(Photo by Christina Ulsh)
(Photo by Christina Ulsh)

3 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon activated yeast
1 ½ cups warm water
Cooking oil or nonstick spray
Sprigs of rosemary (optional)

Combine flour, salt, yeast and water in a large mixing bowl with a silicone spatula until the dough is a consolidated ball.

Cover with lid or cling wrap and set aside for at least eight hours at room temperature. The microwave is a good place to store it if it’s not in use.

Once dough has risen for eight to 12 hours, preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease a pasta dish or a crock pot. Remove covering on mixing bowl.

Place dough in baking dish, stretch sides of dough out and fold over its top. Cut an “X” into the dough. Sprinkle rosemary sprigs over dough. Use less rosemary for aromatic notes and more rosemary to influence taste.

Grease foil to place over baking dish. Consider leaving space between foil and top of dish so as not to limit the bread’s rising. Cover dish and bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes.

Remove foil and continue to bake for 10 minutes. Pull bread from oven and let cool for 10 minutes. Serve alongside soup, with charcuterie and cheeses or slathered in a desired spread.