Good whisk bread is incredibly easy to make. No kneading. No bread machine, mixer, or food processor needed. You just whisk part of the ingredients together to develop the gluten that gives the dough the structure needed to rise. My video shows you how do to the only tricky part: how to shape the bread dough.
It's a great bargain too. It costs 98 cents a loaf using thrifty, good ingredients and $1.66 per loaf using top-quality organic ingredients. (The thrifty price is from January 2010 and the green one from July 2011; the green price went up just three cents a loaf in 18 months.)
The taste is complex and interesting for adults while still being kid-friendly. The crispy crust protects the tender inside. The texture is light but without the big holes that might let your peanut butter escape. Either bake it in batches or freeze any baked bread that you won't use within three days.
Active time: 20 minutes. Total time: four hours, plus rising at least overnight. Makes 2 loaves with about 32 slices total.
How-to Video on Making No-Knead Bread
The video below shows how to whisk the bread. Part 2 of the bread recipe has another video showing how to shape this no-knead bread. The written recipe is below the video.
2 1/2 cups white whole-wheat flour (300 grams)
2 1/4 teaspoons rapid-rise or instant yeast
1 tablespoon salt
1/2 cup wheat germ, untoasted (64 grams)
1 tablespoon honey (21 grams)
3 cups warm water (2 cups then 1 cup at about 110 degrees)
4 cups all-purpose, unbleached flour (480 grams)
Mix the dough. In a big bowl, put white-wheat flour and yeast. Stir to mix, then add salt, wheat germ, honey, and first 2 cups of water. Stir to dampen flour, then whisk or rapidly stir the batter for a minute. Swish your whisk in the remaining cup of water so you don't waste anything. Add the all-purpose flour and then last cup of water to the dough. Stir with a big spoon until all the flour is damp.
Let it rise. Cover the bowl with something tight enough to keep it from drying out but loose enough that the gasses from the yeast can escape. I use a plate but any loose lid or even a piece of waxed paper would do fine. Let the dough rise for one to five hours (see Note below if the room is cold). Refrigerate the dough overnight or for up to five days. This will let the yeast work on the flour longer, making the bread taste better and rise more.
Take the dough out of the bowl. When you are ready to bake the bread, grease one or two non-stick bread pans and a spatula with shortening or pan spray. Oil or flour your hands so the dough doesn't stick to them. Sprinkle a little flour on the dough, then use a serrated knife to cut it in half. Coax half the dough out of the bowl with the greased spatula. Try to keep the dough together without tearing it to preserve the progress the yeast has already made in making your dough rise. Sprinkle the other side of the dough with a little flour too. If you are only making one loaf, then return the rest to the refrigerator in the covered bowl.
- See part 2 for how to shape the dough, let it rise, and bake your homemade bread.
Tips and notes
- Your bowl will be big enough to hold the dough after it rises if it will hold 1 gallon or 16 cups of water.
- If you use a kitchen scale to measure the dry ingredients, you'll save time and reduce the chance of making a mistake.
- Bread rises best at temperatures between 72 and 90 F (22 to 32 C). In the winter my kitchen is at 68 degrees or colder, so I put my bread pans on a heating pad turned to low, cover it with a cake carrier, and then cover that with a clean bath towel.
- This recipe is my pride and joy, the results of eighteen months of research and bread making. I wanted a very nutritious bread that was fast and easy to make and didn't require any special equipment, like a bread machine, food processor, or standing mixer. I studied and tried dozens of recipes, with the key steps being inspired by three sources. Thanks to Mark Bittman's and Jim Lahey's Sullivan Street Bread for the idea of letting the dough develop overnight instead of kneading it. Thanks to Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois for the idea of creating a gluten cloak. And thanks to Rose Levy Beranbaum for the idea of using some white flour plus wheat germ to get the nutritional equivalent of whole-wheat bread without the sharp bran that cuts the gluten and her encouragement to measure by weight instead of with measuring cups.