Wednesday, August 17, 2011

I Made Bread! It Was Easy. You Can Too.

You know when it's August, but your iPod thinks it's December, and it plays "Do They Know it's Christmas," and you find yourself silently mouthing "Tonight thank god it's them, instead of YOUUUUUUUUUUUUUU" at a nice Asian man who clearly thinks you're about to steal his bag of lychees?

I love that.

I also love bread, but have never in my whole puff attempted to make it until this summer, assuming it was roughly as complicated as re-wiring the Hadron Collider. Then, it dawned on me that, a few years ago, Mark Bittman  published a recipe for five-minute, idiot-proof, no-knead artisan bread. It's since been updated and refined by half the population of Guam, but the essentials are there: four ingredients, a bowl, a pot, and time. So I tried it myself, and whaddayaknow? It's the best. Seriously. In all seriousness. Squared. I will eat this and nothing else until I die, presumably, of choking on bread.

Here's how you make it. (Do it! We'll have a bread party.)

First, gather your ingredients. They are:
  • 3 cups of bread flour
  • 1 little packet of active dry yeast
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 1/2 cups lukewarm water
If you plan on making this baby a lot in the future, bite the $4 bullet and purchase a package of yeast from CostCo or something. It is approximately four billion times cheaper than buying it envelope by envelope, a.k.a What I'm Currently Doing.


Second, you get a large, non-reactive mixing bowl and combine your dry ingredients, a.k.a. The Ingredients You Didn't Get From the Tap.


Third, add water and stir until it becomes a spongy, dough-like mass, a.k.a. Mr. Squishy. Don't overstir, or something bad will happen. I'm not exactly sure what, but aren't you scared now?


Fourth, cover that baby. With plastic and rubber bands. Then, leave it out for at least four hours, but for as long as several days, refrigerating after those first 240 minutes. (Note: The longer it sits, the better it will taste. I've gone up to three days.) If you have a cat that's prone to eating dough (er, not that I know any cat like that) ...


... hide it somewhere, like the Cave of Caerbannog, where it will be guarded by a rabbit so foul, so cruel, that no man (or cat) has yet fought with it and lived.


A cabinet will also be sufficient.

Eventually, your dough will expand like crazy, to about three times its former size. It will also appear softer and slightly wetter. (Note cat in lower part of photo, stalking wet dough for potential lunching. His lobotomy is scheduled for tomorrow.)


Fifth, cover a clean cooking surface (a counter, mayhaps) with a thin sheen of olive oil. Turn the dough out on to the surface, and fold it over two or three times. Cover everything with plastic wrap, and let it sit at least 30 minutes, but for up to 2 hours. If it's been refrigerated, it must be given enough time to come to room temperature. It must!


Sixth, while the dough lounges around, move your oven rack to the lower third of your oven. Then, preheat that sucker to 450 degrees F. Grab a pot or Dutch oven, cover it, and stick it in there, to warm along with the oven.

This is mine. It's a 3-quart hard anodized piece of Calphalon, but I'm fairly sure any sizable, oven-safe covered pot will do. (Have doubts about yours? Look it up on the interwebs.)


Seventh, once everything is good to go, CAREFULLY remove the hot pot from the oven and VERY CAREFULLY place the dough into it. SUPER CAREFULLY cover it, and COLOSSALLY CAREFULLY place it back into your oven. Bake for 30 minutes. I CAN'T EVEN EXPRESS HOW CAREFULLY YOU SHOULD remove the cover. Bake an additional 15 minutes, or until the top of your bread is nicely browned. If you see it starting to burn, get it out of there.

Eighth, flip the bread out on to a wire cooling rack. It should look something like this:


And one more time, in black and white, for posterity:


Ninth, once it's cool enough to handle, eat that bread. It may seem like a big loaf at first, but I promise on all that is good and pure, none of it will go to waste. Here's the above loaf, 30 seconds later:


And finally:


Happy baking!

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49 comments:

Gabrielle said...

This bread looks phenomenal! And easy too, which is a big plus for a mom with two little ones at home.

I used to make bread in my KitchenAid mixer, which I thought was pretty easy until I discovered the glory of a bread machine. You may want to look into one. Don't, for the love of bread, BAKE it in the machine. Just use the machine to do the work for you. Dump ingredients, put it on the dough setting, and 2 hours later, you've got dough. Form, let it rise, then bake. Your time invested will be about 15 minutes. And my machine was $10 at a garage sale.

Ann said...

That may be the funniest post you've ever written--whichever one of y'all you are. Plus, now I want to bake this bread. Soon. Good job. And welcome back!

Kate said...

I'm curious if anyone has had any luck with free-forming the bread loaf on a pizza stone?

DMBY said...

I remember trying this once, many moons ago, and it didn't turn out. . .but I'm willing to try again. Maybe my yeast was just old or something.

Also, thanks for the reminder about the carb-stalking cat. I have one of those - he's eaten the tops of muffins, a chunk of banana bread, a croissant, etc. What kind of cat eats pastry?! We've gotten good at hiding things over the years, but must remember to maintain our eternal vigilance.

Allison said...

How nifty! That looks awesome :) I love homemade bread, especially right out of the oven. I'm experimenting with a gluten free diet so I might try to make some of my own GF braed soon

dezeray jule said...

yummmm! thanks so much for sharing! I am sooo going to try this! :)

Colleen said...

Great job there! I conquered my fear of bread last year. I don't know what is so terrifying about it (perhaps it was the dough stuck to the counter). In my house the bread must be put out of the reach of Bear the Dog. He stole my first real loaf of bread off the counter before we even got to try it. He has pulled the pan to the edge of the counter while the dough was on its second rise.
I have posted a few bread and roll recipes on my blog. They are not as easy as yours (which I am now tempted to try this afternoon. Check them out at thefrugalfoodieskitchen.blogspot.com

Alexandra said...

I looove baking bread. Usually I start with a basic recipe and then add tons of nuts, sunflower and pumkin seeds. It might not rise as well afterwards but hey, it tastes delicious :-)

Amanda on Maui said...

I used to use Bob's Red Mill whole wheat flour for making bread (now I'm gluten free), and I also liked their whole wheat pastry flour. The price isn't bad, and they've got organics.

LaDonna said...

I've tried the Bittman recipe as-is and thought it was a little bland. It worked, and was better than store bought, but still...eh. But then I found my new holy tome: Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. Same basic principle, but not only does the basic bread have better flavor, it's even easier than Bittman's version (if you can believe it). Plus, you don't have to make a fresh batch every time - you always have a supply stored in the fridge. PLUS, there are different variations so you can make sweet breads, etc. HIGHLY recommended reading for lazy bakers like me!

Anonymous said...

I'm going to try this soon, looks great! Would it work with whole wheat flour? I haven't seen any whole wheat flour that is specific for bread though.

KFay said...

I agree completely with LaDonna. Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day is the way to go. Great stuff!! Just google "Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day" and you are home free.

Another Kate said...

Kate, I've baked no knead bread on a baking sheet (before I owned a dutch oven) and it turned out fine. The crust wasn't the same at all, and the shape tends to be ugly, since the dough is so wet it kind of falls all over the place. But the taste is good. Not to mention the lack of effort involved. One thing I've thought of but haven't tried is shaping the bread like ciabatta, which is also made from a really wet dough.

Staci said...

This is the most entertaining recipe I've ever read! Now I want to try it.

Becky said...

I'm so spoiled.... I actually grew up on homemade bread. My mom is allergic to corn and corn products (which is in pretty much every store-bought bread known to man), so she always made bread. It's still hard for me to eat storebought bread that isn't the more expensive artisan type, because it just doesn't taste as good or feel as good in my mouth. (Especially white bread, the way it sticks to the roof of your mouth. Ick.) I've been missing that bread lately and thinking I need to start making it myself, so your post was quite timely!

Also, welcome back!

Autumn said...

I just made a modified version of this by dividing it and baking it in little 16 oz mini-dutch ovens and came out with the cutest ciabetta type sandwich rolls.

Aunt Pam said...

you are so much fun! I have been reading your blog forever ...but I just had to let you know - you are fun!

Kris said...

Thanks, you guys!

Sarah said...

How exciting to see a post! I've been checking in sporadically and hopefully, and when you do post, its amazing that it is on exactly the thing I've been pondering for a fortnight!

I'm a bit a-scared of baking with yeast, but soda breads aren't cutting it any more. It's time. I'll try it this weekend.

Val said...

Making bread scares me, but maybe I should try it, you really did make it seem easy. I've seen that no knead recipe posted so many places.

Just a heads up, raw yeast dough is poisonous to cats. Something about their tummies not digesting the yeast, so the yeast stay alive and multiply and could cause real damage. Not that you want the kitty to be eating your dough, but if he does sneak a bite, to keep an eye on him after.

Sam said...

Could you turn this out on a pizza stone, and kind of make a long loaf instead of a round one? This would be great for DH's sandwiches, but he loves more of a french-bread style loaf.

Leezil said...

LOL! And it looks yummy to boot!

Sally said...

I've yet to make this bread -- or the artisan bread. I've been making bread regularly for about 2 years. I use a really simple recipe with minimal kneading and I LOVE it. In fact, I'll be making bread as soon as I finish typing this.

Avon With Dina said...

I love the descriptions and the pictures you post, ,makes me want to bake bread. I usually just by a box mix and throw it in my bread maker. Maybe I will expand. Thanksackl

Money Saving Enthusiast said...

♥ ♥I hope mine comes out like that. ♥ ♥ I have a secret for saving fave recipes. . .

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
@MSEnthusiast

Alphacyg said...

You've successfully combined two of my favorite things: NKB and John Cleese as Tim the Enchanter. Thank you!

Anonymous said...

450 degrees? Really. I'm looking at a large black lump of charcoal, and three hungry kids.

Kris said...

I'm sorry I starved your children, Anon. It worked with my oven. Maybe try again at 425?

The Wife @ homeonthechange.com said...

Bread plus cheapness! It's like a dream come true for me. This might be the first thing I bake in my DeLorean-door oven. Thanks for sharing this recipe.

Anonymous said...

Tim the Enchanter.....!

Katiethekitchen said...

I made it just like you said and it was amazing! My husband was so impressed!

Dmarie said...

gorgeous...thanks for the reminder that I should bake some bread!!

Tati G. said...

Haha, that has to be one of the most entertaining reads for a bread recipe I've ever come across!

Brittany said...

Ok. I'm currently in the process of making this for the first time. I'm on the fifth step. I can still see little pieces of yeast in my dough...did I do something wrong??
Or is this normal. Never made bread before in my life. Thanks.

Kris said...

Brittany, how did it come out? I would think the water would eventually dissolve the yeast bits, but am not positive.

Strawberry Freckle said...

Great idea! I can't wait to try this!!

Linda Watson said...

Love your funny post about making bread. Fear not: nothing bad will happen if you overstir; it's just not necessary.

If you want a healthier but still fantastically easy no-knead bread, check out my Good Whisk Bread.

I usually bake it in two loaf pans, but also bake it directly on parchment paper on a hot bread stone, shaped either round or oblong. The bread spreads and is flat, but still tastes great. Bonus: no pan to grease or clean, no nudging the dough into the corners of the pan or coaxing baked bread out of the pan.

motherrimmy said...

Beautiful job on the bread. I used to make bread all the time when my kids were little. Did the whole kneading thing. It was a lot of work. I can't wait to try this method. Love the bunny too. :)

tinuviel said...

Are we done here?? What on earth happened to the blog?

ebroe said...

Baked this off last night - very tasty! Looked beautiful coming out of the oven too and have now vowed to make bread once a week or so. The only thing I thought this recipe needed was a little sugar. Do you think that would make the yeast go crazy and change to bread's consistency?

Kris said...

@ebroe: I think a tiny little bit of sugar or honey would be okay. Might check other resources, though.

Anonymous said...

Very sad that this blog seems to be dead, I used to read it every day! Please come back, hope everything is ok!

Dewey said...

Made this twice now. Pretty good! Definitely came out tasting a bit "yeasty." Whereas this is not a problem for me (kind of like it), was just wondering if I was doing something wrong, or if this is by design. Anyway, thanks to this article, I'll now be trying some different recipes as well. No more store-bought for me!

Susan S said...

we miss you, come back!

Anonymous said...

I too used to read this blog every day and am sad that it is way on the back burner now. Hopefully it's due to other good things going on in Kris's life -- would be nice to know, but in absence of that, sending good wishes and thanks for the great days of blog glory past. :-)

Mary said...

Your bread looks delicious. This is my first visit to your blog and while I actually started my read with the post above, I've skimmed through some of your earlier entries as well. I'm so glad I did that. You've created a great spot for your readers to visit and I really enjoyed the time I spent here. I'll definitely be back. I hope you have a great day. Blessings...Mary

Irene @ H.E.S.H. said...

Great recipe! The instructions is so simple to follow. Indeed anyone can do this. the bread is also delicious.

Kristene said...

I love this Blog! I *LOL'd* so hard reading this recipe. I agree I avoided making bread because I thought it was too difficult and I'd waste all my ingredients, but there are a lot of easy bread recipes out there now, I liek the "family Bread" on Hillbilly housewife: http://www.hillbillyhousewife.com/

Charisse Miller said...

Loooove this bread! I too was wondering if I could mix half wheat half white bread flour. I think I'll try it and let you all know.

To: Anonymous who starved your kids.
Did you leave the lid off for more than the 15 minutes at the end?