Super Easy No-Knead Bread
Never baked bread from scratch? Don't be intimidated! I confess when I first decided to try, I scoured the Internet for advice, worrying I would mess up. After baking bread for years now, I promise you that like many things- baking can be as complicated or as simple as you want to make it.
So here's my quick and easy bread recipe! This is the version that evolved for me over time, and I make the most often without having to think about it.
1.5 cups whole wheat flour
1.75 cups bread flour
1 heaping Tbs. Yeast (or 1/4 cup sourdough starter)
1 Tbs. Sea Salt
1.5 cups warm water
That's it! If you don't have bread flour, don't sweat it- just use regular flour. You don't even have to use whole wheat if you prefer white. I just like this combination and find it makes a more filling satisfying bread.
Okay! Let's make bread!
Combine all dry ingredients in a large bowl or Tupperware. Mix them well.
Add warm water. It's important the water is warm, but not hot. The warmth helps to activate the yeast, but too hot will kill the yeast. Keep in mind your body temperature is pretty warm around 98F, so if the water feels lukewarm to you- that should be perfect.
Mix it all until combined into a sticky ball. You only need enough elbow grease to make sure no dry pockets are left. You should have a sticky lumpy blob like this. If your mix seems too dry, try adding a bit more water a Tbs. at a time. Lighter flours typically need less water.
The next step is to cover the dough and allow it to sit at room temperature for about 3 hours. It's really important to make sure your dough can breathe. Yeast will expel gas so I like to use a dedicated Tupperware that has a hole drilled in. But you can use something with the lid on loosely, or cover with a clean dish towel.
That's the hard work done! Now it's the yeasts that will take over.
The dough will expand as the yeast goes to work. Yeast activity is sensitive to temperature- warmer means faster, cooler goes slower. If it is chilly in your house, you can shut your dough in the oven with the oven light on to give it a comfortable amount of warmth to do what it does.
After about 3 hours, give or take, your dough ball will look like this and be really bubbly and sticky.
Now you can bake this right away, but it will be super sticky and a pain to work with! The best thing to do is put this in your fridge for anywhere from an hour to several days. This makes it easier to handle, and the longer you leave this in the fridge, the more the flavor can deepen as well.
You can even make a double or triple batch of dough, and just take portions out to bake, leaving the rest in the fridge. It's the ultimate marriage of fresh home baked goodness and convenience. Check out "Five Minute Artisan Bread" for lots more info and ideas on this!
Okay so your dough has chilled. Let's bake!
It's normal for the dough to fall back a little in the fridge. So don't worry if it looks a bit deflated.
I like baking on an oiled cast iron pan, but you can use an oiled bread pan, or any baking method you prefer.
Shape your loaf but try to handle the dough as minimally as possible. The less you squish it, the better. If you want to see how to shape a loaf, here's a handy link with tips.
Now let it rest and warm up a bit. About 30 minutes. It will puff up some during this time.
It's a good idea to cut slashes in the top. This lets steam escape to avoid big bubbles.
Preheat to 425 degrees F
Bake for about 25-30 minutes, or until the internal temperature reads 190-200F when stabbed with a kitchen thermometer
Remove loaf from pan, and set to cool on a baking rack if you have one. Now here's the hardest part- wait until the loaf has cooled before you cut it. See the inside is still finishing up, and if you cut that crust too soon, steam will escape, and the center of your bread may be gummy. So you gotta wait!
That's it! Enjoy your bread!
Some variations to have fun with:
Try mixing in herbs, dry or fresh, with the dry ingredients.
Try adding a small amount of fat into your dough like a bit of butter, olive oil, or even an egg.
Add nuts and seeds for a hearty rustic loaf.
Roll to coat your dough in sesame seeds before plopping in in the baking pan
Have fun baking!
And remember it's not meant to be an exact science. No-Knead Bread is very forgiving. If you add a bit more water or a bit less, it may change how high your loaf rises, but it will still be bread and still taste good.
Also keep in mind ovens vary- so you may get better results with some adjustments.
I really hope you try this and enjoy. I was so happy when I finally did, and I got hooked. After all, what can be better than home made fresh bread?