The process of baking bread is like an homage to our past: One
of our oldest foods is also one of the most satisfying to create
from scratch. The smell of the classic heart-warmer can no doubt
warm spirits on even the chilliest of days. As fall settles in,
here are some tasty recipes for those with bread machines or sturdy
palms: The no knead recipe requires neither.
Fast White Bread
From The Joy of Cooking
This is a quick and easy yeast bread designed to work with
quick-rise yeast, regular active dry yeast works too. Stir together
in a large bowl or the bowl of a heavy-duty mixer: Yields: One 9-by-5-inch loaf
- 2 cups bread flour
- 1 tbsp. sugar
- 1 package (2-1/4 teaspoons) quick-rise or active dry yeast
- 1-1/4 tsp. salt
- Add: 1 cup very warm (115 to 125 degrees) water, and 2 tbsp. butter or margarine, melted or softened
- Mix by hand or on low speed for 1 minute. Add 1/4 cup at a time
until the dough is moist but not sticky: 3/4 to 1 cup bread flour.
- Knead for about 10 minutes by hand or with the dough hook on low
to medium speed, until the dough is smooth and elastic. Transfer
the dough to an oiled bowl and turn it over to coat with oil. Cover
the bowl loosely with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place (75
to 85 degrees) until doubled in bulk, 40 to 45 minutes. Grease a
9-by-5 inch loaf pan. Punch down the dough, form it into a loaf,
and place seam side down in the pan. Oil the surface and cover
loosely with a clean cloth. Let rise in a warm place until doubled
in bulk, 20 to 45 minutes. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Bake
the loaf for 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to 350 degrees and bake
about 30 minutes more. Bake until the crust is golden brown. Remove
the loaf from the pan to a rack and let cool completely.
For Bread Machines: Hearty Winter Bread
Makes a 2 pound loaf.
- 7/8 cup water
- 2 tbsp. butter or margarine
- 1 large egg
- 1/4 cup molasses
- 1/4 cup cornmeal
- 2-3/4 cup white bread flour
- 2/3 cup whole wheat flour
- 2-1/4 tsp. active dry yeast
- Add ingredients in the order given by the manufacturer of your
- Select the sweet or basic setting and desired crust color setting;
Onion Beer Bread
For onion lovers! This scrumptious recipe from The Flavorful
Seasons Cookbook is easy for anyone.
- 3 cups self-rising flour
- 1 tsp. sugar
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 10 ounces room-temperature light beer
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 3/4 cup onion, minced
- Nonstick cooking spray
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine all ingredients. Pour into
a lightly sprayed 9-inch loaf pan and bake for about 50 minutes, or
until a toothpick comes out clean.
For those without a bread machine or a strong set of hands,
there is another option: don’t knead the dough at all. That’s
right; it’s possible to bake bread without any palm work
New York Times posted the following recipe, which actually yielded
an edible loaf of bread for this novice baker. Check out the
December 2007/January 2008 issue of
Mother Earth News for
much more on this No Knead bread technique. I recently tried this
technique for myself and have included my tips and mishaps in
No Knead Bread
Time: About 1-1/2 hours plus
14 to 20 hours’ rising.
Yield: One 1-1/2-pound loaf.
- 3 cups all-purpose or bread flour, more for dusting
- 1/4 tsp. instant yeast
- 1-1/2 tsp. salt
- Cornmeal or wheat bran as needed for dusting (At my
mother’s suggestion, I ditched both and just used extra
1. In a large bowl combine flour, yeast and salt. Add 1-5/8 cups
water, and stir until blended; dough will be shaggy and sticky.
(The dough will not just be sticky, it will be incredibly
gummy.) Cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let dough rest at
least 12 hours, preferably about 18, at warm room temperature,
about 70 degrees. (I let my dough rise for a full 18 hours
resting on and/or close to a heating pad set on low, to combat the
chilly air that had moved in the weekend I chose for my
2. Lightly flour a work surface and place dough on it; sprinkle
it with a little more flour and fold it over on itself once or
twice. (I could not, and did not, ‘fold’ the dough. It was
so sticky that the best I could do was attempt to turn it over.
Luckily, my ‘loaf’ still rose as it should have.) Cover
loosely with plastic wrap and let rest about 15 minutes.
3. Using just enough flour to keep dough from sticking to work
surface or to your fingers, gently and quickly shape dough into a
ball. Generously coat a cotton towel (not terry cloth) with flour,
wheat bran or cornmeal; put dough seam side down on towel and dust
with more flour. (Again, I basically failed at this step.
Even though I avoided terry cloth, the towel I choose was still
porous enough that my dough completely cemented itself into it’s
grooves, and I could not keep my hands coated with enough flour to
shape the dough into anything, as it was clinging to my
fingers.) Cover with another cotton towel and let rise for
about 2 hours. When it is ready, dough will be more than double in
size and will not readily spring back when poked with a finger.
(Luckily, my dough still did this, though it was a huge
amorphous blob, not a neat ball with a seam.)
4. At least a half an hour before dough is ready, heat oven to
450 degrees. Put a 6-to-8-quart heavy covered pot (cast iron,
enamel, Pyrex or ceramic) in oven as it heats. When dough is ready,
carefully remove pot from oven. Slide your hand under towel and
turn dough over into pot, seam side up; it may look like a mess,
but that is OK (‘Look like a mess’ equaled a sticky,
no-seamed blob of dough and way too much extra flour hanging out in
the Pyrex dish I used.) Shake pan once or twice if dough
is unevenly distributed. Cover with lid and bake 30 minutes, then
remove lid and bake another 15 to 30 minutes, until loaf is
beautifully browned. Cool on a rack.
(Incredibly, despite all inconsistencies between my loaf
and the one described in the recipe, I still created a
sweet-smelling, slightly chewy but honestly and notably delicious
loaf of bread with crispy, golden crust. I just had to dust an
embarrassing amount of flour off of it before I sliced it
You’ll also want to check out
Easy, No Knead Crusty Bread in the December 2007/January 2008
issue of Mother Earth News. There’s even a
video demonstration of the technique and an explanation of
how it works. Happy baking!