Easy, no-knead bread by Melissa Souza

Easy, no-knead bread

By Melissa Souza

 

Issue #156 • November/December, 2015

There is nothing more delicious than homemade bread hot out of the oven.

This no-knead bread costs me about a dollar per loaf to make, and it’s so easy that my children are able to help with the process as well. This bread requires no kneading, just one rise, and only five ingredients.

By adding a few extra ingredients, you can make a simple no-knead bread into a very nice artisan loaf that will impress your family and friends.

No-knead bread recipe

1½ cups water (raw milk or whey can be substituted)
1 Tbsp. yeast (two pounds costs $8 and lasts me a year)
1 Tbsp. sugar (optional)
½ Tbsp. salt
3 cups flour, any type (I use 1 cup whole wheat flour and 2 cups of white flour)

Step 1:

Warm the water, milk, or whey in a large bowl until warm (not hot, or you will kill the yeast).

Step 2:

Sprinkle 1 Tbsp. yeast and 1 Tbsp. sugar on top of water. The sugar is optional, but I find that it helps the yeast rise quickly.

Allow to rest for about 3-5 minutes or until the yeast starts to sprout to the top.

Step 3:

Sprinkle ½ Tbsp. salt over the top and add the 3 cups of flour. Mix with a spoon until all ingredients are well mixed. The dough will be too sticky too handle.

If you wish to add anything to the dough (olives, cheese, herbs) this is the time. For the bread pictured, I added one cup of farm cheese, crumbled.

Step 4:

Cover with a loose lid or greased plastic wrap and wrap the bowl in a towel or blanket.

On warm days, I allow for it to rise on the porch or in a window. In the fall and winter months I run the dryer for 2-3 minutes and then place the wrapped bowl into the warm dryer with the door closed.

Allow to rise for 3-4 hours or until doubled in size.

Step 5:

Once it’s risen, the dough will be very sticky. Flour the top and your hands enough to be able to handle the dough. Gently form the dough into a ball by wrapping the sides under. Let the dough ball rest in the bowl while you warm the oven.

Preheat the oven to 400° F. I bake my bread inside a small 24-ounce Dutch oven, and I also heat the Dutch oven in the oven during the preheating stage. Once the oven reaches 400° F, simply drop your dough ball into the hot Dutch oven. Put the lid on and bake for about 40 minutes.

If you want a soft crust, leave the lid on until you can stick a knife into the center and it comes out clean. If you want a crispy crust, remove the lid after 30 minutes, and allow the crust to brown up.

Step 6:

Remove the finished bread from the Dutch oven and allow to cool for 15 minutes before slicing so that it holds its shape.

If you do not have a Dutch oven, you can bake the bread on a greased cookie sheet with a pan of water underneath. Fill the pan of water with about 1-2 inches of water and place on bottom rack while oven heats up and while baking. You can also set one of those dollar store tin baking pans over the top of your bread while baking to create a chewier and softer bread.

If you use the baking sheet method, you will still bake the bread at 400° F for about 40 minutes, or until a knife inserted comes out clean. Baking times will vary based on the shape of the loaf and your oven.

After making the five-ingredient dough, add any special ingredients you might like, then let the dough rise until double. Place in a preheated oven, and bake for 40 minutes. Let cool for 15 minutes before slicing.

Variations

Here are some different ways we have spiced up this recipe.

Pizza bread: After mixing in the flour add shredded cheese, mini pepperonis, and sliced black olives.

Greek bread: Add feta cheese and sliced kalamata olives.

Olive and cheese bread: Add crumbled farm cheese or shredded mozzarella and sliced black olives.

Apple cinnamon bread: Add dehydrated chopped apple pieces or chopped apple pie filling, cinnamon, and sugar. The apples can also be replaced with raisins.

Garlic bread: Add roasted whole cloves of garlic. Fresh basil or rosemary also goes well with this.

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