COOK: Easy-Peasy Bread Takes First Prize for Edible LI Kid

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You will forgive me for boasting a bit about my seven-year-old, because moms can’t help themselves sometimes, but also because once you try this easy-peasy recipe for no-knead bread that you can keep in the fridge for home-baked fresh bread in minutes any time, you will be boasting too.

We’ve been making this bread for a few months now, ever since he did a science fair project on yeast last March. Each time he takes over more of the preparation process; now pretty much all I have to do is heat the water for the yeast. Not only does he love to eat the results, he is also learning a lot about the behavior of yeast, measurements and other cool science stuff.

This year he decided his submission to the Long Island Fair would be this yeast bread. And sure enough, this chewy, tender bread with a dense crust won him a blue ribbon in the Junior Culinary category!

We add some whole wheat flour, but you don’t have to. We also add notes about tricks we’ve learned to help the yeast develop. (For the original recipe and links to the science fair project, click here) We’ll probably be moving on to more complex breads, but will come back to this one again and again. It’s not just a winner because of the fair, but because the family that bakes together is happy together!

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No-Knead Refrigerator Bread
3 cups warm water (it should feel cozy-comfortable on the hands)
1.5 tbs salt
1.5 tbs quick-acting yeast
5.5 cups unbleached white flour
1 cup stone ground whole wheat flour
Extra virgin olive oil or other fat for greasing the loaf pan.

Container large enough to hold this much flour and water only doubled in size. You’ll want a cover for it.

Place the water in a large container and dissolve the salt into it. Stir in the yeast until well mixed. Wait a few minutes for it to begin foaming nicely. We put it on top of a warm toaster oven to encourage yeast activity. Add the flour, all at once. Stir with a big spoon until well mixed into a sticky dough with no big air pockets. Cover loosely and allow to rise 1-2 hours in a warm place. Again, we put it on top of our toaster oven when it’s on low. Cover (punching down if necessary) and place in fridge (for up to three weeks).

When you are ready for fresh bread, preheat oven to 450°F. Grease a loaf tin and grab a half to a third of the dough (putting the rest back in the fridge for next time). With greased hands, form a loaf (the cold dough and the fat on your hands — we use olive oil — will keep it from sticking). Place in loaf pan and slash across the top with a knife (for a pretty finish) and top with a bit of olive oil if desired. Bake for about 30 minutes or until crust is golden. You can give it a blast at 500°F for the last few minutes to develop the crust more.

For more family-friendly easy seasonal recipes, visit Natalia’s blog, Hot, Cheap & Easy.

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