A headline with “easiest ever” is a mighty promise for homemade bread. Fortunately this loaf delivers on ease and flavor.
No-knead recipes abound these days, but this takes the “easiest” cake on several accounts:
1. It requires no kneading.
2. A single recipe makes 4 loaves that you can bake any time of the coarse of 2 weeks.
3. It takes 5 minutes to mix up
4. 4 ingredients (though I hardly count water and salt as ingredients)
5. You can mix by hand (easily) in the same container that you store the dough in
6. Shaping the loaf takes about 30 seconds
7. No special equipment is required
8. Naan. You can make wonderful Indian bread with nothing more than a bit of prepped dough, butter and a cast iron skillet. (See the bonus recipe at the bottom of this post!)
9. You can make even easier “lazy” sourdough with your next batch
easiest tuscan boule
from The New Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day
master dough recipe
This dough can be mixed by hand with a wooden spoon or very easily with a Danish dough whisk. Alternatively, it can be prepped in a mixer with a dough hook and transferred to a container for rising. The container that you use to rise should be able to be transferred to the fridge. These work great for both mixing and rising (and require no clean up!)
This master recipe makes 4 small-medium sized loaves. The dough is stored in the fridge for up to two weeks and can be baked any time you’d like a fresh loaf.
Combine in a large container:
3 cups lukewarm water (100°F)*
1 Tbsp yeast
Mix it up until it’s relatively even in consistency.
This is a relatively wet dough.
Once it’s mixed, let it sit to rise for 2 hours. (Do not snap the lid down, so as to let the gas from the yeast escape. Farting yeast, Heh heh…
After 2 hours, this bad boy is going to rise quite a bit!
Do NOT punch down the dough. Just let it be. You can bake a loaf at this point, but it develops more flavor after at least one night in the fridge. It can be stored in the fridge for up to two weeks. Leave the lid unattached for the first few days, and then snap down if you’d like. Do not be alarmed when the dough starts to “deflate”. It’s normal for it to significantly decrease in volume. It will not rise again.
When you’re ready to bake a loaf, significantly flour your hands and the top of the dough a bit. Grab a fist sized lump of dough (~¼ of the recipe) and pinch off. You can use shears or your hands. Shaping the dough should take no more than 30 seconds or so: Generously flour the top of the dough. Wrap (gently pull) dough over the top to form a ball shape. (This is called gluten cloaking.) Sit the ball of dough down on parchment paper. That’s it! Let it sit for 40 minutes and preheat a pizza stone*** in the oven to 450°. The dough will not really rise during this 40 minute rest period.
Just before baking, slash the dough. Essentially, just cut about ½-1 inch down into the dough.
To bake a loaf, underneath the pizza stone (or cookie sheet), place the broiler pan and 1 cup of water. This will create steam while the loaf is baking. Do NOT use a glass pan for steaming, as it could shatter.
Transfer the parchment paper with your rested dough onto the pizza stone. Bake for 30-35 minutes total. About 15-20 minutes though baking time, remove the parchment paper so that the bottom crust can fully crisp.
After the bread has completed baking, remove from the oven and allow to cool on a wire rack. Cutting into the bread immediately will result in a gummy interior. You don’t want that! Just wait it out a bit. You’ll be rewarded:
*It’s fine if it’s colder, but the dough will need to rise longer than 2 hours.
** AP flour should not be subbed out with whole-wheat flour in this recipe. Whole wheat flour contains oil from the germ that will affect the light texture of this loaf. If you’d like a light, simple whole wheat loaf, check out a similar book by these authors: Healthy Bread in 5 Minutes a Day
*** A pizza stone produces a great, crispy crust, but it’s perfectly fine to bake it on a pizza pan or cookie sheet. No worries!
To make a lazy sourdough, when your container is empty, don’t wash it. Scrape down the sides and mix the next batch directly in the container. Alternatively, for an even stronger sourdough, mix some of the remaining dough (up to 2 cups) in with the water and yeast while mixing the next batch. You made need a little muscle to incorporate the old dough into the new. Do not attempt this sourdough if you’re using a dough that contains eggs or daily. Obviously, but just sayin’.
a bonus recipe
This naan is also incredibly simple, and ultra fast. Upon discovering the recipe for this in the book, I had to make it immediately. It was ready in 5 minutes and I had no Indian food to serve it with. I’ve attempted naan at home before, and my results were pretty horrible. I’ve resorted to the frozen stuff that you heat up in the oven since then. This, however, is stellar. Puffy and soft and buttery. Oh so good. It’s begging for some mutter paneer to dip into. But alas, I had none. Naan-wiches were born. Not even remotely Indian, they’re delicious nonetheless.
To make naan, pinch off a small (plum-sized) amount of master dough.
Roll the dough into a ball and press out with your fingers to flatten.
Heat a cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Once that pan is ultra hot (a bit of water will sizzle and skip), add a pat of butter. Immediately add your patted out dough to the pan and cook for about 2-4 minutes on one side. (If it’s burning, turn it faster than that.) Flip the dough over and allow the other side to cook for another 2-4 minutes.
One fresh naan
Almond butter (or peanutbutter or whatnot)
Thinly sliced crispy apple
A drizzle of honey