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As we were learning about yeast for my first-grader’s Science Fair Project, it was obvious that blowing up balloons with anaerobic respiration, while cool, was not enough to fully demonstrate the wonders of this delightful fungus.
The best way to appreciate how useful and all around terrific these little creatures are is to tear into a loaf of steaming, fresh-from-the-oven, homemade bread. Yeast lifts flour from its one-dimensional powder form into the sublime airy, nutty, soft, comforting cloud of tasty goodness that is bread. Add a slab of good butter, and you know that manna from heaven must’ve been a yeast bread.
The problem is, bread is a pain in the ass to make. You knead, you wait, you punch down. You do it again. Or you have a standing mixer with the right paddles and let the machine do much of the work. And you still have to wait.
I don’t have a standing mixer. I don’t have the space for it. I don’t have the money for it. I don’t have the time to read all the reviews to find the best standing mixer with the best ratings and the best price that I anyway have no room for and no money for…so usually I don’t make bread. This is why bakeries exist.
But a bit of digging around the internet found me a fabulous recipe on Jezebel called Foolproof Refrigerator Bread by Jenna Sauers. It required no kneading, no standing mixer, and very little waiting and one batch is enough for three loaves that you can make one at a time when you get the urge. SOLD!
Here is our version, which doesn’t really stray much from the original. The measurements and instructions are easy enough for a little kid to follow. We shamelessly took a fresh loaf to the Science Fair and offered still-warm slices to the judges and voila! Leandro won the Creativity Prize (the K-4 category was otherwise non-juried except for a few special recognitions). Talk about fostering a sense of pride and joy in a little boy who loves science and food.
And ever since we have been keeping dough on hand to pop in the oven when we need a snack. It’s done in a half-hour….what could be better for a dinner side or something to wow impromptu guests? Continue reading to get the ever-so-simple recipe.
You Need 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
6. 5 Cups unbleached white flour
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.
Add the flour, all at once. Stir with a big spoon until well mixed into a sticky dough and there are no big air pockets.
Cover loosely and allow to rise 1-2 hours.
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 about 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 to you . Place in loaf pan and slash across the top with a knife (for a pretty finish). 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.