Just the title of this recipe should make you jump for joy. Bread? Good. Don’t have to knead? Goooood. This reminds me of the Friends episode where Rachel is learning how to cook. She’s trying to make a trifle and ends up combining two recipes when the pages in the cookbook stick together. Ross thinks it “tastes like feet.” But Joey? Big sandwich-lovin’ Joey thinks it’s great. “I mean, what’s not to like? Custard? Good. Jam? Good. Meat? Gooood.”
Have you ever made bread that you don’t have to knead? Banana bread doesn’t count 🙂 This recipe will knock your socks off. You could run around and do a little dance, because this bread is like no-fail.
A few things about the water temperature and the yeast you’ll use. Yeast can be tricky. But if you know how to be kind to it, you’ll do fine. Water temperature has to not kill your yeast. That means, if you add yeast to water that is more like “ouch”, than “ooooh”, your yeast will take a nose dive. We don’t want that. We want happy yeast. And yeast is happy when it takes a 100 degree water bath. I would really invest in a kitchen thermometer, even if you only use it for making bread. I used to try to judge water temp when I baked bread, and more times than not, the bread failed. Also, it’s unnecessary to buy active dry yeast. Wanna know why? Because all you’re doing when you let the yeast sit in the water, is checking to see if it bubbles. Meaning, the yeast is still alive. I buy Rapid Rise instant yeast. No proofing necessary. As long as your yeast hasn’t expired (check on the pouch before you buy to make sure you’ll use it before that expiration date), your bread will rise.
So. We have yeast taking a bath in 100 degree water, and a bread dough that doesn’t need kneading! Yipee! Let’s get started.
- 3 cups lukewarm water (100–105 degrees)
- 1 1/2 tablespoons (2 packets) instant yeast
- 1 tablespoon kosher (or other coarse) salt
- 32 ounces all purpose flour (not sifted) Depending on how you measure your flour, it could be anywhere from 6 1/2 cups to 7 1/2 cups.
- Gather and measure all your ingredients before starting. This way, you can add all the flour at once and aren’t stopping to measure during the mixing process.
- In a 5 quart bowl with a lid, or resealable container, add the warmed water, the yeast, and salt. Add all the flour at once and stir with a wooden spoon. Make sure all the flour is incorporated. You can use the dough hook on a stand mixer, but it’s really much simpler to just stir by hand. Find a bored 5 year old to help you out if you have one standing around.
- Now, we let it rise. Go find something to do for 2 hours while your dough does all the work. Cover the bowl or container with a loosely fitted lid. After the initial rise, place container in refrigerator and let rise at least two more hours. The longer it sits, the tangier it gets. You can leave it in the fridge and use it over the next 7 days (sourdough!).
- Over the course of the first day, the dough will rise, then fall. That’s what we want. The dough kinda flattens on the top.
- After these two rises and when you’re ready to bake, prepare your work surface and grab a pizza stone. You can use a cookie sheet, but I prefer the intense heat the stone produces. Lightly flour the top of the dough so you can grab a chunk. You want about a one pound piece of dough – about the size of a grapefruit.
- The goal is to shape the loaf with as little fuss as possible. Round the chunk of dough into a circle by stretching and pulling the dough towards the bottom. If you want more of a loaf look, just stretch the ends slightly.
- Lightly sift flour over the surface. Let dough rise on a piece of parchment for 45-60 minutes. If your house is cooler, it may need a bit longer. It won’t rise that much, and may even seem to expand. No worries. It’ll puff up when exposed to the high heat.
- About 30 minutes before you bake, preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Place a pizza stone on the middle rack and put a cast iron pan, or a broiler pan, on the rack under that. Do not use glass. Glass can stand high heat, but we are going to pour hot water into that pan, and glass has been known to shatter when hit with water like that.
- When you’re ready to put the bread in the oven, use a sharp knife to slash 2 or 3 times across the top, about 1/2″ deep. Get a cup or two of hot water ready. Use a pizza paddle to quickly slide the bread onto the pizza stone (with the parchment), and quickly pour the water into the hot pan and close the door.
- Get ready for that wonderful bread smell wafting through your house. Hey – if you are in the middle of selling your house – this would be the PERFECT thing to bake! Bake the bread 25-30 minutes, until it’s a deep, golden brown.
- Cool on a wire rack. Serve with butter and my homemade marionberry lavender jam.
You can use bread flour here, but it has more protein in it. The crust comes out a bit thicker. You would need to increase the water ratio by 2 teaspoons to every cup of water.
You could also use a Dutch oven for this recipe and omit the pan of hot water. Dough will bake beautifully with the trapped steam. Make sure you preheat the vessel, just like the pizza stone. Carefully place the dough into the hot dutch oven and bake with the lid.