I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again, and probably a hundred more times in the future: the smell of fresh bread is out of this world. Now this recipe gives you no excuse not to make fresh bread because it’s so easy and you don’t even need to knead it!
This is a super easy recipe: dump the flour, yeast and salt in a bowl, roughly mix through the water, sleep, pop the dough in the pan at 8am, bake at 10am, fresh lunch bread at 12pm. This works best if you set it up on a Friday/Saturday afternoon so you have fresh bread Saturday/Sunday lunch. However you could set it up one evening and then bake it the next evening if you are not home during the days.
So this isn’t my recipe, I found it on Macheesmo, and Nick got it from a New York Times article, but the varieties you can make with it are endless and you can claim them as your own. I used this as the basis of my Perfect Hot Cross Buns and this version gives you the ability to determine the ratio of flour/water depending on the size of your pan (that’s my contribution to the no knead bread revolution).
After making elephant-man bread when I made too much, and a couple of rather squat loaves, I have found that a good ratio of flour to pan size is 1:2. So a 10 cup pan (like my large loaf tins) makes as big a loaf as possible with 5 cups of flour. Then the water is half the quantity (or a smidge more) of the quantity of flour, so for 5 cups of flour use 2.5 to 2.75 cups of water.
No Knead Sandwich Loaf
5 cups of flour
1 2/3 tsp salt
1/2 to 2/3 tsp of yeast (no more)
2.5 to 2.75 cups of water
You use a very small quantity of yeast to flour because the bread has a long slow rise. This works the gluten so your muscles don’t have to! So don’t increase the quantity above 2/3 of a teaspoon of yeast unless you’re leaving it for only 8 to 12 hours on the first rise, then you could increase it to 2/3 to 1 teaspoon to help the process.
To determine how much dough to make, measure the number of cups of water fit in your pan, then divide that in half. That is your flour quantity. Divide that in half. That is your water quantity. Adjust your salt and yeast accordingly.
You can easily mix in additions such as dried herbs, or olive and rosemary, or dried fruit, nuts and cinnamon as you desire. I have thus far found that the dough is very flexible to take the flavours you desire.
Mix your flour, salt and yeast well.
Mix through the water. You don’t have to have it perfectly smooth, but avoid lumps of dry flour being left. You should have a wetter dough than normal bread dough, but not too watery. If it is too wet when you prepare the second rise.
Loosely cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it rest 12 to 20 hours (preferably closer to 20 hours). The dough will more than double in size.
After the long rise that does all the hard work for you, scrape the dough onto a floured surface. The dough will be very moist, sticky and goopy, this is good. Cover the dough in flour and then fold it in on itself a few times to shape it into a long rectangle. Making sure it is well covered, dump the dough (fold side up) into your pan. Leave it to rise for 2 hours.
About ½ an hour before you cook the bread, turn on your oven to 240 degrees Celsius (460 degrees Fahrenheit). After the second rise, bake the bread for around 45 minutes, turning the oven down to about 210 degrees (410 Fahrenheit) for the last 15 minutes.
The bread should sound hollow when tapped once it is cooked. Let your bread rest for at least an hour after removing it from the oven before slicing.