easy bread

Black Pepper Parmesan Bread

Everyone needs a good back-pocket bread recipe and this is my go-to. If you think you aren’t the bread-baking type, be prepared to change your mind. I beg you, just make it one time (or invite me over and we can do it together)! Why? Homemade bread is one of the best simple pleasures known to man, and this recipe is so dead-easy it can convince anyone that a weekly loaf of fresh bread is well within reach.

The backbone is five simple ingredients, tossed in a bowl (it literally takes two minutes), and left alone for a few hours. Then, a few hours later (be it four or eight, or even eighteen) when you start dinner, plop the dough on some parchment paper and shape it into a ball. Easy. Start the oven to get it (and the dutch oven you’ll bake the bread in) piping hot. Transfer the dough to the super hot dutch oven and 30-40 minutes later your house will be filled with the most delicious aromas on earth, and your tummies will be soon be very happy. That’s it.

The cost-benefit analysis is simple. With a recipe this easy and delicious, buying bread just doesn’t make sense anymore:

  • The active time of this recipe is less than it would take you to run to the grocery store.
  • It is much less expensive than an artisan loaf you’d buy at said store.
  • You can’t put a price on the smiles of the members of your household when you pull fresh bread out of the oven.
  • Plus- let’s circle back to how it will make your house smell! Forget candles, this is the key to coziness.

The best part is it’s much healthier. If you look at your bread label chances are you’ll see all sorts of long weird- looking ingredients and preservatives you don’t recognize. I thought I had some sort of gluten intolerance because I felt so bloated after eating bread and processed carbs, but eventually I realized it’s the heavily processed part that doesn’t sit well with my tummy. Try making yourself a loaf of this bread and see how you feel. For me, the difference is marked.

Inspired by Jim Lahey’s wildly popular no-knead bread and the millions of variations that followed, I adjusted the rise time for two reasons: 

1) I did some tests and the 12-18 hour rise time was not necessary, see figure 1. 

2) A four hour rise fits better with the natural rhythms of most of our days (for example: mix in the morning, bake bread for lunch; or, mix during your lunch break, have fresh bread ready for dinner), and makes life easier for those of us that don’t plan our meals 18 hours in advance.

bread rise time

I gussied the recipe up with a few delicious add-ins. If you’d like a plain loaf, just skip the black pepper and parmesan and you’re good to go! You’ll have a great classic loaf perfect for toast, sandwiches, or to round out your dinner menu.

Since it has no preservatives it’s really at its best in the first two days. I’ve seen a family of four easily devour a loaf in five minutes(!), so for bigger families the freshness won’t be a concern. If you have a small household and are concerned about how long the bread will last, just slice it and pop it in a gallon bag to put in the freezer. To use, simply pop some slices in the toaster and they taste as good as new! I do this on a regular basis and you truly can’t tell the bread has ever been frozen.  Plus- you have homemade bread available to accompany any meal, which is a real lifesaver.

Try this recipe and let me know if it is as life-changing for you as it was for me!

Black Pepper Parmesan Bread
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5 from 5 votes

Black Pepper Parmesan Bread

A life-changing recipe for homemade bread that is flavorful, fast, and much better for you; you'll never go back to store-bought!
Prep Time5 minutes
Cook Time40 minutes
Rising Time4 hours 30 minutes
Total Time5 hours 15 minutes
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American, Italian
Keyword: bread, yeast bread
Servings: 8
Cost: $1.75


  • Dutch oven or heavy pot with lid


  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 cups flour plus about a tbsp for flouring the parchment paper
  • 1 tbsp yeast this works with active dry or instant
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2-1 tsp cracked black pepper 1 tsp of pepper is delicious, and you'll really taste it, but if you are hesitant about the pepper, dip your toes in with 1/2 tsp.
  • 1 and 1/2 cups water room temperature
  • 3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan divided
  • 1 tbsp fresh herbs like rosemary and thyme very finely chopped, optional
  • a sprinkling of cornmeal very optional


  • Lightly grease a bowl with 1 tbsp of olive oil. Mix the flour, yeast, salt, and pepper in that bowl. Add the water and stir thoroughly. Gently fold in 1/2 cup of the parmesan (and the herbs, if using). The dough will be very wet, not to worry. Just have faith in the process! Cover the bowl with a clean kitchen towel or plastic wrap.
  • Let it sit at room temperature (or in a turned-off oven with the oven light turned on, especially in colder weather) for as much as time is convenient for you- I'd suggest at least four hours. If your schedule allows for more, by all means leave it. This bread is very flexible and in my experience hard to ruin. (Hard cheeses like parmesan can be left at room temperature for up to 24 hours).
  • Lightly flour a piece of parchment paper and lay it on the counter. Turn your bowl over and let the dough plop out onto the parchment. Fold it a few times to loosely shape it into a ball. Re-cover it with whatever you used to cover the bowl the first time, and let it rest while the oven preheats.
  • Preheat the oven for 450. When you turn on the oven, immediately put a large dutch oven or heavy covered pot (which you will use to bake the bread in) into the oven to get very, very hot.
  • When the oven is preheated, remove the dutch oven/pot (with gloves! I've burned myself more than once forgetting how hot it was) and place it near your dough. If you'd like to use cornmeal to add a little crust/no stick action to the bottom of the dough (this is completely optional) now is the time to sprinkle some lightly on the pan. It will hiss a little but not to worry all will be well. Pick up the parchment paper with both hands and use it to plop the dough into the very hot pot. If you want to do any last minute shaping tweaks, here is your chance!
  • Cover with a lid and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the lid and sprinkle on the final 1/4 cup of parmesan, being careful to only sprinkle it on the top of the bread and not the very hot pot. Bake another 10 minutes until you achieve the golden brown color you desire. Let it cool completely before cutting into it- and enjoy the fruits of your labor!

10 thoughts on “Black Pepper Parmesan Bread”

  1. 5 stars
    I would give this recipe 10 stars if I could! Both for the taste and for how incredibly easy it was to make! For something so delicious I was blown away by how quick and simple this was to put together and how hard it was to mess up! I’ve never made bread before and was so intimidated to try. But after reading this description I was so encouraged and decided to give it a shot. Wow! Just wow! It was SO easy and just beyond mouth watering. I’m both embarrassed and proud to say I made three loaves in two days and everyone I shared some with instantly asked for the recipe! This one is a slam dunk! Highly recommend!

    1. Awww, thanks so much for the kind words, Mary! Seeing you become a confident bread baker (not that I’m at all surprised, just delighted!) has been the highlight of my “career” so far!

  2. 5 stars
    Oh my goodness! SO DELICIOUS! I made this bread for a group of friends (and was super nervous because I’m not much of a baker) but it was easy, airy and yum! The loaf was gone so quickly and everyone raves about the parmesan flavor and crust

  3. 5 stars
    Amazing!! I’ve been wanting to try baking homemade bread for a while now but have been intimidated by the process. This recipe is so simple, easy, and delicious!! I used thyme and plenty of parmesan, let it rise for 4 hours, and it came out perfect. Can’t wait to make it again!

  4. 5 stars
    So delicious and way easier than other bread recipes I’ve tried! My husband bit in and immediately proclaimed “we should keep this recipe”. Followed shortly by “this bread tastes like it’s been infused with Cheez-Its.”

  5. 5 stars
    My neighbor sent over this bread and I had to have the recipe. I am not a baker by nature, but even I managed to make this recipe. It’s delicious and hearty and an easy show stopper to any meal. It’s the perfect extra touch of love that will warm up any cold day. Baking this bread makes me actually look forward to winter weather.

    1. Wow Sarah, thank you so much for making this recipe and for your kind words! You made my day!
      I’m so glad you enjoyed this recipe and hope you’ll enjoy many more to come! (Lots more easy bread recipes are on the way!)

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