During my stay in Norway I met up with an old colleague of mine who’s well known for his passion for food and wine. He invited me home for lunch, and I was quick with accepting, as I have very good memories from previously eating at his house.
This time he pulled out sandwich toppings from his fridge, put the kettle on – and sliced up some bread. It seemed to be completely unprepared and impulsive, and it probably was. Although the bread was homemade, freshly baked that morning.
We talked about bread for a while as it is a shared interest, and he told me that he and his wife have the habit of mixing a dough every night and waking up to the smell of freshly baked bread every morning.
“Really?” I replied while munching a deliciously moist and nutritious slice of bread with mature cheese.
” This is good. And you make it sound so easy.”
“It is,” he said.
“I just mix cold liquid with a small portion of yeast, a bit of salt, flour, seeds, a dash of olive oil and some honey perhaps – pour the dough into a bread tin, leave it in the oven over night, then program the oven to start at 5.30 am. When we come down to our kitchen around 6.30, our bread is ready.”
“Wow … That’s it?”
I had another slice of bread and kept thinking about all the kneading, rising, moulding, after-rising, brushing and decorating I spend time doing and always ending up with perfectly fresh bread in the evening, after dinner, when nobody really feels like eating anymore.
“So you don’t do any kneading?” I asked, just to confirm how ridiculously effort-less he made it sound to wake up with that extra bit of luxury.
“Nope. I just pour the mixture into a tin and let it cold-rise over night.”
“And then our oven starts automatically at whatever time we program it too. That’s a pretty cool feature with our oven”
“Mmm, that’s pretty cool.”
I decided to bury my worked up pride in well kneaded bread and try the simple one-two-three-coldrise method as soon as I returned to Florida. If no effort, no kneading, no attending can result in such a tasty bread, it doesn’t make sense to not give it a shot.
And yes, it works. Luke-warm, freshly baked bread for breakfast is an unbeatable start of the day. The texture of the bread is different – as to be expected considering all the hard work you leave out, but it is by no means wrong. No-knead bread has its own personality and characteristics. It is very moist and slightly heavier than well kneaded bread. The long rising time when cold-rising benefits the taste.
This is what I did for one bread:
Whole Wheat Morning Bread
1 cup cold water
1 cup apple juice
1 tsp yeast
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup raw sesame seeds
1 – 1 1/2 cup white bread flour
- Mix all the dry ingredients including the yeast (if you’re using dry yeast) in a bowl, but hold back on the white bread flour.
- Add the cold liquid and stir well. Add more white flour if needed, but the dough is supposed to be fairly soft and sticky.
- Grease a bread tin and pour the dough into it.
- Cover the tin with plastic and leave on the counter over night (Unless you have one of those fancy automatic programming ovens.)
- Brush the bread carefully with a little water and sprinkle with sesame seeds if desired before baking the next morning.
- Put the bread into a cold oven and set the temperature to 395 F. Once the oven is warm, bake the bread for about 45-50 minutes.
- Cool on a rack, preferably about 20-30 minutes before cutting.
So I mix the ingredients around 9-10 pm and try to get up at 6 am to put the bread in the oven. That works for us. By the end of the day the bread is gone. But that’s ok – throwing together a new one before going to bed can easily become a habit.
Making bread this way requires very little effort (less than baking a simple cake without frosting) – and provides warm, fresh, healthy, homemade bread in the morning. Can’t go wrong. It’s doable even if you don’t have time.
Although this is fun and tasty and easy, I’m not going to give up my full effort, well kneaded loafs for the future. Theres still a different quality to a hard working dough – and a different experience eating a bread attended with passion.
I'm Currently living in Florida, USA, but I'm Norwegian born and bred. At the moment I enjoy baking bread and blogging about it. I enjoy blogging in general, because I like writing. But I'm trained as an illustrator, originally ... in England. One day I'll write a book. About bread. And illustrate it myself. Maybe. Life will see.