The busy holiday season may not seem like the time to try your hand at baking bread, but our simple method makes it easier than you think. The secret is to mix a big batch of our hearty, lightly sweet no-knead dough and store it in the refrigerator. When you want a soft and yummy loaf for leftover turkey sandwiches, say, or a fruity pastry for a festive brunch, just snip some dough from your bulk batch, shape it, rest it, and it's ready to use. With just a few minutes of active prep, the house can be filled with the scent of fresh-baked goodness and your table topped with wholesome treats. We can't think of a better way to celebrate the season.
This versatile recipe makes a loaf bread with an irresistibly soft crust and serves as an ideal base for pastries. A single batch will make enough dough for two large sandwich loaves or any combination of three of our recipes for Wreath Bread, Herb Breadsticks, and Pear Fritters.
Hands-on time: 5 minutes
Total time: 2 hours, 5 minutes
Makes: 4 pounds of dough
Vegetable oil has the most neutral flavor; butter adds flavor suitable for sweet and savory breads; and olive oil adds flavor suitable for savory breads.
In a large bowl or lidded container, stir together the water, yeast, salt, eggs, honey, and oil or melted butter, then mix in the flours. If needed, the last bit of flour can be incorporated with wet hands.
Loosely cover the dough and let it rise at room temperature until it collapses on top, about 2 hours.
Use the dough immediately or refrigerate it in a lidded (not airtight) container and use it over the next five days. It can also be frozen in airtight containers or freezer bags for up to one month (we recommend freezing the dough in 1-pound portions for ease of use). Frozen dough can be shaped, rested, and baked after it has defrosted overnight in the refrigerator. To cut a recipe's worth of dough from the bulk batch, dust the surface of the dough with flour, then use kitchen shears or a knife to snip off what you need.