When it comes to making delicious home-baked yeast breads, kneading often frightens away beginners. Then again, there are expert bakers who would rather not knead -- either because of the time involved or the labor required. Kneading can be very hard on the wrists, as anyone with just a bit of arthritis can tell you.
Although these breads are often referred to as "batter breads," the batter is considerably thicker than that usually required for a cake.
We have found that certain ingredients and techniques enhance the results when making no-knead yeast breads. For example, in our extensive experimenting, El Molino Mills brand dry yeast (available in most health food stores) proved to be superior to the supermarket brands, although the latter may be used satisfactorily.
In recipes calling for whole wheat flour, we recommend high gluten "bread" flour found in most health foods stores. We also prefer (Pillsbury) unbleached white bread flour recently made readily available in supermarkets. However, in both cases all-purpose flour could be substituted.
The initial beating with an electric mixer is quite important with no-knead yeast bread because it essentially take s the place of kneading in developing the gluten of flour. (Gluten is an elastic protein that allows bread to rise.) Our recipes suggest stirring in the last addition of flour by hand since, at this point, the batter has become too thick for most mixers to handle. However, a heavy-duty mixer can easily accomplish this task as well.
All ingredients should be at room temperature. (However, it is best to store whole-grain flours in the refrigerator.)
In general, test bread for doneness by thumping your finger on the bottom. The bread should sound hollow. If you hear a "thud" instead, bake it a few minutes longer.
To prevent sticking, it's best to grease bread pans with butter or margarine, which don't absorb into the dough as readily as unsaturated fats.
The best place to let dough rise is inside a gas oven with a pilot light, or inside an electric oven that has been turned on to 200 degrees for a minute or two, then turned off. The temperature is constant -- it should be about 85 degrees -- and there is no draft.
The best cover for rising dough is plastic wrap with a dish towel on top. The plastic keeps in moisture, and the towel provides moisture --both advantageous conditions for growing yeast. Make sure the dough is covered loosely enough so that it can rise freely. LIGHT CARAWAY RYE BREAD (Makes 1 loaf) 1 package (1 tablespoon) active dry yeast 1 1/4 cups warm water (105 to 115 degrees 2 tablespoons oil 2 tablespoons honey or molasses 2 teaspoons salt 1 tablespoon caraway seeds (or less to taste) 1 1/2 cups rye flour 2 cups bread flour or all-purpose unbleached white flour
Soften active dry yeast in 1/4 cup warm water. Combine remaining 1 cup warm water, oil, honey or molasses, salt, caraway seeds, rye flour and 1/2 cup white flour in a mixing bowl. Add the softened yeast and blend on low speed of electric mixer. Then beat 2 minutes at medium speed, occasionally scraping sides and bottom of bowl. Add remaining white flour and stir by hand until smooth.
Use a small amount of oil to lightly grease the top of the dough; then use a rubber scraper to turn the dough so that all sides are greased. Cover bowl and let dough rise in a warm place until double, about 1 hour.
Stir dough down. Spread evenly in a greased 9-by-5-by-3-inch loaf pan. Let rise in a warm place until double, about 35 minutes. Dough may take longer to rise if conditions are not optimal. Bake in a preheated 375-degree oven for 45 to 50 minutes, or until done. Remove from pan and cool on rack.
This recipe may be doubled to make 2 loaves. TRITICALE-WHOLE WHEAT BREAD (Makes 1 loaf)
Triticale (prounced trit-i-kay-lee) is a hardy, hybrid grain produced by crossing wheat and rye. It contains more high quality protein than either of its parents. The flour, which has a pleasing, nutty flavor, is available at many health food stores. 1 1/2 cups triticale flour 1 cup bread flour or all-purpose whole wheat flour 1/2 cup bread flour or all-purpose unbleached white flour 2 tablespoons wheat germ 1/2 cup instant nonfat dry milk powder. 1 package (1 tablespoon) active dry yeast 1 teaspoon salt 1 1/4 cups hot water (120 to 130 degrees) 2 tablespoon oil 1 large egg 2 tablespoons honey
Place 1 cup triticale flour, 1/2 cup whole wheat flour, white flour, wheat germ, nonfat dry milk powder, yeast and salt in a mixing bowl. Mix to blend. Add hot water, oil, egg and honey and blend at low speed with electric mixer. Then beat at medium speed for 2 minutes, occasionally scraping sides and bottom of bowl. Stir in remaining 1/2 cup triticale flour and 1/2 cup whole wheat flour by hand until dough is smooth.
Use a small amount of oil to lightly grease top of dough; then use a rubber scraper to turn the dough so that all sides are greased. Cover bowl and let dough rise in a warm place until double, about 1 to 2 hours. Stir down. Spread dough in a greased 9-by-5-by-3-inch loaf pan, pressing it to fill in corners. Let rise in a warm place until double, about 30 to 45 minutes. Bake in a preheated 375-degree oven for 40 to 45 minutes, or until done. Remove from pan and cool on rack.
This recipe may be doubled to make 2 loaves. POPPY SEED BREAD (Makes 2 small loaves) 2 cups hot water (120 to 130 degrees) 2 tablespoons honey 1 tablespoon salt 2 packages (2 tablespoons) active yeast 2/3 cup instant nonfat dry milk powder 2 tablespoons poppy seeds 2 1/4 cups bread flour or all-purpose unbleached white flour 2 cups bread flour or all-purpose whole wheat flour
In a large mixing bowl, combine water, honey, salt, yeast, milk power and poppy seeds. Mix until well blended. In another bowl, mix whole wheat and white flour together. Add about one-third of the flour to the yeast mixture. Beat 2 minutes at medium speed with an electric mixer. Add the next third and beat again for 2 minutes. Stir in remaining flour by hand until dough is smooth.
Place dough in two well-greased 8 1/2-by-4 1/2-by-2 1/2-inch pans. Be sure each pan is no more than 1/2 full. Smooth the top of the dough as much as possible. This may require using a greased spoon or greased fingers as the batter is sticky and rubbery. Cover pans and let rest in a warm place for 20 minutes. When ready to bake, place in a cold oven and set to 200 to 250 degrees for 10 minutes. Then raise to 350 degrees and bake for an additional 40 minutes. Remove from pan and cool on rack. COTTAGE CHEESE AND DILL BREAD (Make 2 loaves) 2 cups bread flour or all-purposed unbleached white flour 2 cups bread flour or all-purpose whole wheat flour 2 packages (2 tablespoons) active dry yeast 1 tablespooon instant minced onions 1 teaspoon salt 1 teaspoon dill weed 1 cup creamed or low fat cottage cheese (at room temperature) 1 egg (at room temperature) 1 cup hot tap water (120 to 130 degrees) 2 tablespoons honey
Combine white flour and whole wheat flour. Set aside. In separate bowl, combine one cup of the flour mixture with the yeast, onion, salt and dill weed. Add cottage cheese, water, egg and honey to flour mixture. Beat 3 minutes on medium with an electric mixer. Add about one cup more flour and beat an additional 2 minutes. Stir in remaining flour till well blended.
Cover and let rise in a warm place until double in bulk (about one hour). Stir down batter. Pour into two well-greased 9-by-5-by-3-inch loaf pans. Let rise in a warm place until double again (about 30 minutes). Bake at 375 degrees about 30 to 35 minutes or until done.