Life pulls us in a million different directions, but there’s something about home baking that brings us all together. We especially enjoy working dough into a freshly baked loaf of bread. Breadmaking offers a deep sense of comfort and accomplishment that makes it the best thing since sliced, well, you get the picture. It gets everyone in the house involved, and rewards you with the most delicious end result.
There are many ways to create a perfect loaf of bread. We love one recipe that requires time but not a lot of effort. It’s a no-knead bread that turns novices into brag-worthy bakers.
The best part is that there are countless easy ways to customize the recipe, depending on what you have in the house. For us, of course, that means kicking it up with some Hidden Valley Ranch.
Here’s the recipe for our favorite kneadless bread, along with three easy ways to kick up the flavor with the savory taste of ranch.
How to Ranch It Up:
- Ranch Bread: Remove 1 tablespoon of flour from the recipe and add 1 tablespoon of Hidden Valley Original Ranch Salad Dressing and Seasoning mix (packet or shaker).
- Just a Topper: Before you put the no knead bread in the oven, shake or sprinkle some Hidden Valley Original Ranch Salad Dressing and Seasoning mix over the top (you can also add seeds) to give it a little extra zest.
- Butter It: Try this delicious recipe for ranch butter
How to Make Bread Without Kneading
Makes one 1½ pound loaf
This recipe calls for 3 cups of flour — go with what you have! It’s great to use all of whatever you have the most of (regular all-purpose is great) or mix types — bread and whole wheat, all purpose and rye; here is your chance to experiment.
3 cups flour
½ teaspoon instant yeast
2 teaspoons salt
Cornmeal, wheat bran or flour
Seeds or ranch seasoning to sprinkle on top
Combine the flour, yeast and salt in a large bowl. Add 1½ cups room temperature water (beer works too!) and stir until it comes together (the dough should feel a bit sticky and will look shaggy; add a little more water if it’s feeling too dry). Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let rest about 12–18 hours (overnight) at room temperature.
When the surface is dotted with bubbles, lightly flour a work surface and add dough; sprinkle flour over the top and fold the dough over a couple of times to incorporate. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let sit for about 15 minutes.
Sprinkle a large piece of parchment paper with cornmeal or wheat bran (if you only have flour, that’s fine too). Using just enough flour to prevent sticking, shape the dough into a round ball and place on top of the dusted parchment. Transfer the whole thing (parchment and dough) back into the bowl and cover lightly with a kitchen towel or plastic wrap. Let it sit for another two hours.
Place a 6-to-8-quart heavy covered cast iron/ceramic/enamel pot into the cold oven and preheat to 450°F. Let it sit for another 20 minutes or so with the pot inside. Carefully remove the pot from the oven and remove the top. Pick up the dough by the corners of the parchment and nestle the whole thing into the pot. Make a very shallow 4–6-inch slit down the middle, if desired (this will make it look a little prettier and hold some of the seasoning, if using).
At this point, add your favorite seasoning to the top, like Hidden Valley® Original Ranch® Salad Dressing and Seasoning Mix. Cover with the lid and bake 30 minutes. Remove lid and continue to bake another 20 minutes or so, until loaf is browned. Cool on a rack before slicing.