A Super-easy, No Knead Yeast Bread
So, yeast bread, right? Hard. Messy. Chancy.
Okay – some yeast breads are those things. Like Brioche maybe.
But today, I’m telling you about a yeast bread that’s super easy, not to mention super delicious.
I’ll be upfront and honest at the start here – I love making yeast bread and I have been doing it for a long time. I grew up in household where my Mom often made all the bread we ate, and her Mom, my grandmother did the same. For long periods in our life, I’ve made all of the bread we eat. So yeast breads don’t intimidate me. But that doesn’t mean I don’t recognize a beautifully easy yeast bread recipe when I see one.
I found this recipe in the newspaper [remember newspapers, internet?] at least 25 years ago, and we have enjoyed it hundreds of times since then. It’s fast and so simple and so amazingly delicious. it actually tastes like the best English Muffin you have ever eaten, but with a lot less bother.
The thing you may find to be the most difficult is getting the liquids at the right temperature. Now, this is very easy if you have an instant read thermometer. Which, in my opinion, every kitchen needs to have, anyway. But if you don’t agree, you can use the method my grandmother taught me – you should be able to just bear to hold your finger in the liquid. In other words, it should be just at the point where it would be uncomfortable if it were any hotter. If in doubt, let it cool off for a few minutes – better too cool than too hot. Too cool and it will just take a bit longer to rise, too hot and you’ll kill your yeast, which gets back to that scary yeast bread thing. Not scary at all – just wait a couple minutes if you think it might be too hot.
- 2 tablespoons butter and about two tablespoons cornmeal, for preparing the bread pans
- 6 cups all purpose flour
- 2 packets, or 41/2 teaspoons instant yeast
- 2 teaspoons salt
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- 2 cups milk - any kind will work
- ¾ cup water
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoon honey
- Very generously butter two 5 x 9 or 4 x 8 bread pans [or what ever size bread pans you have - if the mini loaf pans, you will need about 5]. Put a tablespoon or so of cornmeal in each pan and tilt the pan from side to side to ensure that the entire inside is coated in cornmeal - tap out excess.
- Measure the flour, yeast, salt, and baking soda into the bowl of your stand mixer, and mix on very low speed for a minute or so to get everything combined.
- In a small sauce pan, measure the milk, water, butter and honey, and heat over low flame to between 120º and 130º, or until warm enough that you can just hold your finger in the liquid without discomfort.
- Add the liquids to the dry mixture in the mixing bowl, and beat on low speed for a minute or two, until all of the ingredients have formed a very stiff batter.
- Divide the batter evenly between the bread pans.
- Wet your fingers and push the batter into an even layer in the pans, re-wetting your fingers as needed. Try to get the top fairly smooth.
- Sprinkle the tops of the loaves very lightly with additional cornmeal. Cover lightly with a piece of oiled plastic wrap or parchment paper.
- Allow to rise in a warm place for about an hour, until the center of the loaf has risen to just over the height of the pan.
- Preheat the oven to 350º, remove the plastic wrap or parchment paper.
- Bake loaves for 30 to 35 minutes, rotating half way through baking, until they are very nicely browned, and sound hollow when tapped on the tops.
- If you want to check with an instant read thermometer, the internal temperature should be between 195º and 200º.
- Remove the loaves from the pans by turning them upside down over a cooling rack - they should slide right out, but if not, you can loosen the edges with a table knife.
- Cool for an hour or so before cutting.
- To serve, cut into generous slices, and toast, topping with butter and jam or honey, as you like.
I have to tell you one little story about this bread. When I first wrote about it, on my old blog, I got an email from some friends, who are missionaries in China. Chinese apartment kitchens are small, with little accommodation for a lot of baking. They didn’t have room for a mixer, and their only oven was a small, electric one. This bread, however, was so easy to make that they could enjoy it every day – a little taste of something like home for them, which made me very happy. And while this bread is meant to be a toasting bread, don’t think you have to limit it’s enjoyment to breakfast – it makes fantastic toasted cheese sandwiches, french toast or an accompaniment to a bowl of soup or stew. I hope that you give it a try!
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