Homestead Kitchen – The Only Bread Recipe You (Don’t) Knead

It has long been a Homestead dream to bake that holy grail of self sufficiency: the humble loaf of bread. Over the years, we’ve nursed countless sour dough starters and shelled out a veritable fortune on fancy artisan yeasts and flours.   We’ve kneaded until our arms resembled overcooked spaghetti, constructed all manner of devices to provide the perfect proving conditions, and faithfully followed a squillion and one recipes to the letter but the result has always been the same:

Loaves like river stones (but less palatable).

Here's one we prepared earlier... or a river stone.
Here’s one we prepared earlier… or a river stone.

Feeling utterly defeated and not a little useless, we even resorted, with the rest of the  late 1990’s similarly culinarily-challenged dolts, to buying ourselves a bread making machine. That wonderful machine performed an magical form of voodoo every single night.  As we slept, it bleeped and churned, hummed and buzzed, turning the ingredients we slung in it prior to retiring each evening into crusty, springy, heavenly, sumptuous, PERFECT loaves of deliciousness! Everytime.  Day in, day out (as long as we remembered to tell it to). It still rankled that we had failed dismally in something humans, since the dawn of time, had considered a daily no-brainer, and we weren’t overjoyed that we had simply switched our target of reliance from a faceless conglomerate to a machine, but at least we controlled what we put in our daily loaf, and at least the machine was on our side. That is until that fateful day when our expectations obviously became too heavy a burden for it to bear.  Woken by the sound of kneading mechanism assaulting loaf tin (ever seen Stomp?) we arrived en masse and in time to witness the machine flinging itself to its bitter end off the edge of the kitchen bench.

A few half-hearted attempts followed over the years, especially with the introduction of Food TV and in particular the personable Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and his “anyone can do this” attitude but, iIn the end, we decided to spend a little bit extra and buy the kind of bread we would like to make, if only we weren’t so blimmin’ incompetent (sob!)

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The perfect accompaniment for Oma’s Brown Bean Soup

We’d still be doing just that, had the fateful day not dawned; the day when a Major Bread Supplier Suffered a  Fundamental Machine Failure causing children throughout the South Island to go without sandwiches in their school lunches (with the exception of one clever lady who sent her kids to school with pikelets instead and, in doing so, earned herself a few lines in the newspaper)!  In actual fact, the bread shortage caused not a ripple on the Homestead happypond as our freezer was well stocked with bready goodness, but it did bring about a change… in our world… forever (cue dramatic musical motif)!!!

Social Media (which despite the bad stuff we said about it in Time and Place, isn’t all evil) went crazy with recipes for making your own bread, one of which caught the collective Homestead eye with it’s no-knead, basic ingredient, guaranteed to work every time promise. It couldn’t hurt to give it a go…

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It was pretty good;  Mucking around with it slightly, bringing into play the tricks and insights years of bread making failure had opened our eyes to, made it more so.

And so, here follows the slightly morphed, tried and true recipe; the only one that has ever come out of our oven looking, smelling, feeling and, most importantly, tasting better than a river stone.

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no knead bread

***Stop Press**Stop Press**Stop Press**Stop Press**Stop Press**Stop Press**

We’ve found, for better results, that a second proving (thirty minutes is all it takes) in the tins/cookie sheet makes for sublime loaves every time – much better than our proof reading, that’s for sure!

We don’t know why it works and, quite frankly, we don’t care.  That it works is enough for us.


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© Union Homestead 2014. All Rights Reserved. 

11 thoughts on “Homestead Kitchen – The Only Bread Recipe You (Don’t) Knead

  1. Still chortling over this story. We have a bread machine whose lid has to be carefully fitted on every time, because the hinge broke the day the machine chose to walk off the counter during the kneading cycle. By some miracle, the motor didn’t break, just the lid. I sometimes wish it HAD broken (I didn’t say that out loud). It has a very strident beeping signal for the “add nuts” moment in bread making, which can NOT be turned off. Seriously, no thinking person designed that feature as it renders the delay feature absolutely useless – no whirring and kneading can happen overnight in our kitchen because 20 minutes into the cycle, it will beep stridently – at 420 am if I’m looking for bread to be finished at 6am. The truly sad part is that I am actually capable of making bread, perhaps not well, but edibly, the regular way. And I used to do it. Hubby bought the machine in an attempt to support my breadmaking enthusiasm by making it easier. And the result is that I now only make one loaf at a time, when I used to make 2 or 4. On the other hand, everyone in the family can use the thing, and do. It goes on the chore list for teenagers – make bread. And they set it up and hit start and cross it off their list, just like that. Modern technology, such a mixed blessing. (And I’m not always this long winded, sorry!)

    • “add nuts”??!! Seriously, that’s the LAST thing this place needs:) The bit I left out re the plummeting breadmaker (as I too suffer from longwindness – like you hadn’t picked it) was that mechanically it still worked but it had taken the fall on one of it’s corners knocking it’s shape into a skinny diamond at the top and shattering it’s lid and a lot of the casing. As we all stood silently blinking in our various forms of night attire, The Bean Counter picked his way through the gloopy mess, very solemnly flicked the power off to it and uttered the immortal words, “well, that’s what I’d call knackerred.”

      • You’re welcome. 🙂 It’s a treat to have fresh, homemade bread any day. How lucky of your family! Thanks for sharing your tried and true recipe. You’ve inspired me to give it a go.

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