Outside of a bread machine, this is the easiest bread recipe humans have yet devised. You know refrigerator bread? It's easier than that. You know no-knead bread? It's easier than that. Why? Because it's a no-knead refrigerator bread! Once the dough is ready — and the measuring and mixing only takes about 20 minutes — only a hot oven and a half an hour separates you from a piping hot loaf of your own. Anytime you want bread, you just form a loaf and pop it in. I still like to make more complicated breads sometimes — croissants, bagels, that sort of thing — but this is my dead-easy standby.
What's so great about this particular recipe is that allows for spontaneity. It's the very opposite of the usual eighteen-step, multi-stage rising and proofing bread recipe, which requires about six hours of intermittent attention and energy. This recipe is spur-of-the-moment. Friends coming over for an impromptu drink? Put some bread in. Need something to take to a dinner party but no time to stop at the bottle store? Put some bread in. Hungry? Put some bread in. I've made this recipe in at least five countries and five U.S. states; I've made it in dorm rooms and holiday houses and at the childhood homes of friends, in New York City studio apartments and, once, in an office kitchen. I've made it at altitude and at sea level, in gas ovens and electric, and using some things that only barely qualify as "resealable containers" (like a plastic water pitcher) or as "measuring cups" (like drinking glasses). This bread recipe has never failed me. And now, it will never fail you.
You'll need everything you see here. Click any image to enlarge. From left: 1. Active dry yeast or an equivalent amount of your preferred yeast. 2. Salt. 3. Flour. 4. A large, resealable container. 5. A liquid measuring cup. You will also need dry measuring cups and spoons — or, you know, drinking glasses — warm water, and a spoon for mixing.
One batch of dough as described above will make around 3 loaves of the size shown here. My maybe favorite part of this whole recipe is that when you finish your last loaf, you don't have to wash your container. Even if you don't have time to mix a fresh batch of dough, just seal the lid and return the empty container to the fridge. In a week or two when you do want to mix a new dough, the remains of the yeast in the last batch will have deposited a delicious pool of greyish alcohol at the bottom of the container. Just pour your warm water on top of that liquid and follow the recipe as above. Not washing the container is a great way of getting that delicious, three-week-old-refrigerator-dough taste in a dough that is in fact just hours old.
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