Rise, rise, rise, let it rise!

The title is a play on the Bachman-Turner Overdrive classic from the 70s, that decade when we packed Wonder Bread in our school lunches every day. But this is a new decade in my life…the pre-homesteading one in which I bake my own bread and take another step toward a future life on five acres with chickens I don’t name, because I will eventually eat them.

My love of home-baked bread started at age 5 when I would sit across from my crooked great aunt as she shaped lovely mounds of dough and lined them up in rows across the flour-dusted formica table. When she wasn’t looking (and that was somehow never), my arm would shoot forward like a tiny bolt of lightning and snatch a bit of the dough. Using strange magic, she would glare simultaneously at me and at the tattle-tale pinch left by my little fingers.

How did Wonder Bread ever cut it after Aunt Doris’s homemade rolls? Actually, I quit eating it and feeding it to my own kids years ago. Anything that melds with peanut butter and jelly to evolve into a new species by lunch hour can’t be good for you.

I’ve tried baking bread before but never had time for all that rising and kneading. And I haven’t had much luck with bread machines, which manufacture something like an unevenly baked box.

Enter Grit’s homemade bread guide and the versatile and nearly no-fail recipes for NO-KNEAD bread. No need to knead, because the unusually wet dough is left to rise for 12-18 hours before it is baked in enamel-ware, cast iron 3-qt. pots.

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These pots can be very expensive. I bought mine at Carson Pirie Scott’s when they were 60% off. The crust they form is crunchy and chewy and crackles as it cools on the rack.

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I know what you’re asking. Who has time to bake bread? Not me. But this method is easy to work into my day. Here’s my favorite Grit magazine no-knead recipes:

Basic white bread (pictured above, the easiest to make)

Oat raisin bread

Cranberry “walnut” bread (Because of nut allergies, I substitute the walnuts with the same amount of finely diced candied ginger. I’ve used crystallized, too, but the candied has a softer texture. You can find both at Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, and even Target. I also add a couple teaspoons or so of freshly grated orange rind.)

Sun-dried tomato bread (I leave out the cilantro and add a couple teaspoons of chopped fresh rosemary.)

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7 thoughts on “Rise, rise, rise, let it rise!

  1. It sounds and looks delicious… I’m not sure I’ve got the patience for the hours and hours it needs to rise though! Do you make one batch and then have another one on the go half way through so that you have a continuous flow of bread through the house? Your variations sound delicious!

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    1. You should try it! The anticipation makes it taste even better. “When” I make a batch kind of depends on my work schedule and what time I’ll be home to turn it out for a second short rise and baking. We have a loaf of organic bread in the freezer for emergencies. 🙂

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