I haven't bought bread in nine weeks. Instead I make Mark Bittman's delicious and super-easy no-knead whole-wheat bread from The Food Matters Cook Book every week. I shared the recipe here and calculated that I save $16.34 by making it here. But what I haven't said is how ridiculously easy it is to make and how wonderful it tastes.
There are five ingredients: whole-wheat flour, instant yeast, salt, water, and olive oil.It takes about five minutes of active time to make. You dump the dry ingredients in a big bowl, add about two cups of water, and mix it until a wet batter with the consistency of pancake batter forms.Next you put plastic wrap over the bowl and let it sit for a minimum of 12 hours but as long as 24 hours. It's easy to incorporate this into my week. Every Friday night, whether I'm staying in or going out for a night on the town (which usually means my husband and I going to Target), I always mix up the dough. The next morning, the dough has puffed up with little bubbles in it.Next I get the loaf pan ready. It's really important to coat it with cooking spray and add one tablespoon of olive oil, coating the entire pan really well. I tried to make it lower fat by using less oil, and the bread stuck to the pan and ripped apart when I pried it out. Then I coat a spatula with cooking spray, transfer the dough to a loaf pan, and gently press the dough into the pan.Next I add one more tablespoon of olive oil to the top and spread it around with the spatula until the top is completely coated with oil.
Then I stick it in a warm place (I heat my oven to warm and then turn it off) and let it rise for one hour. The dough will rise to the top of the pan or just slightly above.The last step is to bake it in a 350-degree oven for 45 minutes. It's always done perfectly in that time. Then, I just flip it upside down so it slides out and let it cool on a wire rack.The inside is chewy and hearty, and the outside is crunchy. It's perfect. The taste is rich and full of flavor. It's truly the best testing whole-wheat bread I've ever had, though that could be because it's fresh and homemade. It's also very filling. Many mornings I have a toasted slice with peanut butter and jelly plus a soymilk-flax seed-fruit smoothie, and it keeps me full until lunch. It freezes well too--neither texture nor taste suffer.
If you want fresh, homemade, delicious, easy-to-make, healthy bread every week, I highly recommend this recipe!