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Looking for an easy bread recipe that only requires 4 ingredients and is easy to make? Then you have to give our free formed bread a try!

completed Free Formed Bread loaves with one split and one whole on a gray/white towel and light surface

For $5 you can make several loaves of some of the greatest bread you’ve ever had. And don’t be fooled by the ‘easy’ skill level – it’s easier than that. Also, don’t be thrown off by the prep time. A large majority of the time consists of simply waiting for the dough to rise while you do whatever else you want. It barely counts. Free Formed Bread for the win!

This Free Formed Bread Loaf: 

  • Only needs 4 common ingredients to make.
  • Perfect to make in large batches.
  • Plant-based and vegan.
  • A great way to have fresh bread all week long.
  • Great to make when you are on a budget.

One of the greatest pleasures in life is digging into a loaf of freshly baked bread. The smell, the warmth, and that soft texture are so good and comforting, right? This is why this recipe is so precious to us. You can have it any day in the comfort of your home, and it doesn’t take days or amazing baking skills to achieve it.

Seriously, try this bread recipe. Once you do you won’t be able to stop eating it!

Minimum Ingredients & Maximum Flavor

Our favorite recipes are usually the ones that use very few and basic pantry-staple ingredients, and this one definitely falls under that category. To prepare this fluffy Free Formed Bread, you’ll only need water, yeast, salt and flour. Nothing more. The secret of this bread (as with many other kinds) is in the process, or should I say in patience?

completed Free Formed Bread loaves with one split and one whole on a gray/white towel and light surface

Be Patient!

Patience is a virtue. It turns out the saying applies 100% to this Free Formed Bread recipe. I wish I could tell you the process is quick … but it isn’t. Why? Because we need to give time for the bread to rise. The process of rising is what makes bread fluffy and irresistible. We promise you, though, it’s definitely worth the wait!

The Ingredients and Substitutes

  • Water: 3 cups, lukewarm
  • Granulated yeast: 1 ½ tablespoons (about 2 packets – any brand/style will do)
  • Coarse salt: 1 ½ tablespoons
  • Unbleached all-purpose flour: 6 ½ cups

How to Make Free Formed Bread

Keep scrolling to the recipe card for the complete list of ingredients and recipe instructions!

  • Begin by adding the yeast and the salt to the warm water (about 110 degrees F) in a large bowl. You don’t need to mix it or wait for it to dissolve.
  • Add the water. No need to sift or pack the flour. Simply scoop it up, sweep level, and add all of it to the water mixture.
  • Then, use a wooden spoon or your (very wet) hands to mix in the flour. It’s not necessary to knead the dough. Just mix it together until it’s uniformly moist.
  • Cover the bowl and allow it to rise in a warm spot until it’s about twice its size. I cover it with a hand towel and put it in the sun. This will take about 2 hours.
    • It’s recommended that you allow the dough to then sit in the fridge for a few hours, but if you’re like me, you’re ready to eat. Cut off a grapefruit sized chunk of dough and with floured hands, stretch and mold it into a ball. Again, no need to knead – this shouldn’t take more than 60 seconds.
  • Place the ball of dough onto a heavily floured surface you can later use to slide the dough into the oven (like a pizza peel). Flour the top of the ball and use a knife to cut a couple of slices into the top. Allow the dough to sit and rise for 40 minutes. After 20 minutes, turn the oven on to 450 degrees F (230 degrees C) and place a baking surface on the middle rack (a baking stone works best but a cookie sheet will work).
  • After 40 minutes, slide the dough onto the baking surface. The trick is to add a pan with 1 cup of water to the bottom rack, which will help bake the bread with steam, making it soft in the middle. Bake for about 30 minutes or until the crust is golden brown.
  • Keep the rest of the dough covered or in a freezer bag in the fridge until you’re ready for another loaf (it will keep for well over a week). The initial dough making is the tedious part. However, when you’re ready for a loaf, cut off a chunk of dough, spend 60 seconds to roll the dough into a ball, let rise for 40 minutes, and cook for 30. You’ll have fresh bread for 60 seconds of work.

completed Free Formed Bread halved on a dark cutting board against a blue background with sides and utensils in the background

FAQs

Can I refrigerate the bread dough?

Yes, you can! You can make a large batch of dough, throw it in a freezer bag, and put it in the fridge. When you want some bread, you can cut off a chunk, and in a little over an hour, you have a fresh loaf. 

Can I add additional flavors to this bread recipe?

You can add in your favorite fresh herbs or spices to create a flavorful free-formed bread.

Do I need to knead the dough?

There is no need to knead this bread as it is a no-knead free-form recipe.

More VEGAN Bread Recipes You’ll Love

Photos by Alfonso Revilla

Free Formed Bread

5 from 12 votes
Prep: 3 hrs 10 mins
Cook: 30 mins
Total: 3 hrs 40 mins
Servings: 4 -5 loaves
One of the greatest pleasures in life is digging into a loaf of freshly baked bread. The smell, the warmth, and that soft texture of this Free Formed Bread is so good and comforting!

Ingredients 

  • 3 cups of lukewarm water
  • 1 ½ tablespoons of granulated yeast about 2 packets - any brand/style will do
  • 1 ½ tablespoons of coarse salt
  • 6 ½ cups of unbleached all-purpose flour

Instructions 

  • Add the yeast and the salt to the warm water (about 110 degrees F) in a large bowl. You don't need to mix it or wait for it to dissolve.
  • Add the water. No need to sift or pack the flour. Simply scoop it up, sweep level, and add all of it to the water mixture.
  • Use a wooden spoon or your (very wet) hands to mix in the flour. It's not necessary to knead the dough. Just mix it together until it's uniformly moist.
  • Cover the bowl and allow it to rise in a warm spot until it's about twice its size. I cover it with a hand towel and put it in the sun. This will take about 2 hours.
  • It's recommended that you allow the dough to then sit in the fridge for a few hours, but if you're like me, you're ready to eat. Cut off a grapefruit sized chunk of dough and with floured hands, stretch and mold it into a ball. Again, no need to knead - this shouldn't take more than 60 seconds.
  • Place the ball of dough onto a heavily floured surface you can later use to slide the dough into the oven (like a pizza peel). Flour the top of the ball and use a knife to cut a couple of slices into the top. Allow the dough to sit and rise for 40 minutes. After 20 minutes, turn the oven on to 450 degrees F (230 degrees C) and place a baking surface on the middle rack (a baking stone works best but a cookie sheet will work).
  • After 40 minutes, slide the dough on to the baking surface. The trick is to add a pan with 1 cup of water to the bottom rack, which will help bake the bread with steam, making it soft in the middle. Bake for about 30 minutes or until the crust is golden brown.
  • Keep the rest of the dough covered or in a freezer bag in the fridge until you're ready for another loaf (it will keep for well over a week). The initial dough making is the tedious part. However, when you're ready for a loaf, cut off a chunk of dough, spend 60 seconds to roll the dough into a ball, let rise for 40 minutes and cook for 30. You'll have fresh bread for 60 seconds of work.

Notes

Can I refrigerate the bread dough?
Yes, you can! You can make a large batch of dough, throw it in a freezer bag, and put it in the fridge. When you want some bread, you can cut off a chunk, and in a little over an hour, you have a fresh loaf. 
Can I add additional flavors to this bread recipe?
You can add in your favorite fresh herbs or spices to create a flavorful free-formed bread.

Nutrition

Calories: 744kcalCarbohydrates: 156gProtein: 22gFat: 2gSaturated Fat: 1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 1gSodium: 2630mgPotassium: 232mgFiber: 6gSugar: 1gVitamin A: 4IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 38mgIron: 9mg

Disclaimer: Although plantbasedonabudget.com attempts to provide accurate nutritional information, kindly note that these are only estimates. Nutritional information may be affected based on the product type, the brand that was purchased, and in other unforeseeable ways. Plantbasedonabudget.com will not be held liable for any loss or damage resulting for your reliance on nutritional information. If you need to follow a specific caloric regimen, please consult your doctor first.

Additional Info

Author: Jake
Course: Side
Cuisine: American
Method: Oven
Diet: Vegan
Keywords: appetizer, bread, bread and butter, easy bread, flour, free formed, side, vegan, vegetarian, yeast
Tried this recipe?Please tag us at @PlantBasedOnABudget! 🙂
About

Jake

Jake switched to a plant based diet in 1996 and quickly realized he had no idea how to cook. All these years later and he’s still trying to figure it out…

More about Jake

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Comments

  1. I get that there is ease in making this free form, but if I want to make a more uniform loaf in a bread pan for kids sandwiches, will it work just as well?

    1. We haven’t tried subbing in GF flour yet for this one so can’t guarantee the results! Let us know how it turns out if you end up giving it a go!