Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The Best Bread

Here's the bread recipe I've been promising you. Since discovering the idea of no-knead bread, I literally have not bought bread from the store. For months, I have enjoyed a steady supply of fresh, healthy, home-made bread. The secret is making a large quantity of dough that keeps for up to two weeks in your fridge. When you need more bread, you break off a hunk of dough, let it sit for an hour and a half, and then pop it in the oven. That's it. No kneading, no carefully timed rises. It's brainless, and involves about 5 minutes of actual work per loaf.

And it's GOOD! Crusty with a nice, moist crumb, this bread has the tiniest hint of tang, reminiscent of sourdough (though it's not a sourdough). The addition of wheat bran and germ round off that tang and make it a little bit rustic. I've looked and not found a recipe that works like this that involves whole wheat flour, so for now the bran and germ make it healthier than white bread. Well, that and the complete lack of additives of any kind. Unless to add them...for some reason...then you could.

Here is the recipe. Try it and marvel at how insanely easy (and cheap!) it is to have fresh, crusty artisan bread on hand at all times.
Makes dough for three loaves
1 1/2 Tbsp yeast
1 1/2 Tbsp salt
3.5 cups warm water
1/2 cup wheat bran
1/4 cup wheat germ
6 cups all purpose flour

  1. In a large bowl, mix together the yeast and salt.
  2. Add the water.
  3. Mix in the wheat bran and germ.
  4. Add the flour, mixing thoroughly until all lumps are gone. This is most easily done 2 cups at a time, stirring between each addition. The dough will be quite wet and sticky, and not entirely smooth, but there should be no pockets of dry flour when the mixing is done.
  5. Cover, but not with an airtight lid, and let sit for at least 2 hours and as many as five.
  6. Bake now, or store dough in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
  7. When ready to bake, break off 1/3 of the dough (per loaf), and place in a greased and floured bowl (a cereal bowl will do fine).
  8. Sprinkle liberally with flour, and let sit for about an hour (up to two, if dough has been refrigerated). It's ok to be very approximate with this time.
  9. Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.
  10. Let bread stone warm to temperature as oven preheats.
  11. Carefully transfer the dough from the bowl to the hot stone. The dough will still be very loose, but arrange in a nice, round mound. Slash the top three times with a sharp knife (this will be easier the more flour you dusted it with earlier).
  12. Bake for 35 minutes, or until bread sounds hollow when thumped.
  13. Cool on a wire rack until it's just cool enough not to burn you.
  14. Slather with butter and devour while still warm.
Hints and Variations:
  • This is a great recipe to add stuff into. Nuts, seeds, garlic, olives, mushrooms, cheese, dried fruit, diamonds...mix it in before you start adding the flour, maybe a handful per loaf.
  • This bread can also be baked on a cookie sheet or in a greased loaf pan, but the baking stone really enhances the crust and the shape of the loaf.
  • On a related note, these would probably make great dinner rolls. One slash on the top, maybe brushed with an egg wash. They'd need to be baked for a shorter time than a full loaf. I shall experiment and report back!
  • When you're done stuffing your face, wrap the still-warm loaf in a cloth napkin until fully cool, then store in a zip bag. The warm bread will not become stale as it cools, even overnight, but it will become soggy if it cools in anything airtight.


  1. Was this the stuff you made at our place?

  2. Nope, that was soda bread. Which I'll probably also post here at some point. This bread is ever-so slightly easier than soda bread, even thoughs soda bread's pretty easy.