Baking bread is one of those basic skills that every prepper should acquire, for a few reasons. First, making your own bread is cheaper than any store-bought bread, as cheap as 50 cents to a dollar a loaf. Second, homemade bread tastes much better than almost any store-bought bread. Third, you can make a healthier bread: no preservatives, no partially-hydrogenated oils, no mono- or di-glycerides. Take a look at the ingredients list on the bread in your kitchen. It’s appalling. You can also use organic flour or whole-grain flour, and add whatever other healthy ingredients you like.
Fourth and finally, flour stores fairly well and is a good source of protein and carbs. I have plenty of pasta and rice in my stored preps. But how much of those foods can you eat in a month? Home-baked bread makes a nice addition to meals prepared from stored food.
There are a million bread recipes online and in books. Some are very complex and require a lot of time, effort, and skill. I don’t have any of those things. So I chose the simplest no-kneading-needed bread recipe I could find. The only ingredients are flour, water, yeast, and salt. I started with this recipe: Amazing Artisan Bread for 40 Cents a Loaf – No Kneading, No Fussing, No Kidding, then I adapted it to make it even easier. [This recipe was updated on 9 Oct 2013, based on my experience baking no-knead bread since first publication.]
The recipe claimed to make 4 loaves. I halved the recipe, adjusted the ratio of water to flour, and used a non-stick bread pan, instead of a baking stone with parchment paper. I ended up with one ordinary-sized loaf, not 2 loaves. The recipe takes 4 hours to make, from start to out-of-oven finish.
1-3/4 cups water
2 teaspoons active dry yeast
2 teaspoons salt
3 cups organic white enriched unbleached wheat flour
I chose organic flour (Arrowhead Mills) because it has no barley malt or other ingredients. You can use any white flour you like. A high protein flour gives you a better structure to the bread, and of course more protein. One loaf of bread, from 3 cups of white “all-purpose” flour, gives you about 39 grams of protein. The same recipe using white “bread” flour, gives you 49 grams of protein. (The high protein flour I use is made from hard red winter wheat, and 3 cups has about 60 grams of protein.)
Combine the water, yeast, and salt in a large glass bowl. This is the bowl that the dough will rise in, so it needs to be triple the volume of the initial ingredients. I used bottled water, heated in a microwave to about 110 to 125 degrees F, so that the yeast will grow quicker.
Now add only 2 cups of the flour. Stir the ingredients until you get a loose dough, too wet to knead, but not loose enough to pour like soup. Let the dough rest at room temperature. It should rise to double its starting volume (or more) in 1 hour.
Next, stir in 1 additional cup of flour. Allow to rise for 1 additional hour. I cover the glass bowl with plastic wrap, and I spray the wrap with Pam cooking oil so that the dough does not stick to the wrap.
After it rises, fold the dough into a non-stick bread pan. Cover with oiled plastic wrap and let rise for 1 additional hour. (So that is 3 hours of rising, total.)
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. When the dough is ready, place the bread pan in the oven and bake for about 35 minutes. The crust should be golden brown. Allow to cool thoroughly before cutting.
Good luck! It may take a few tries and a little adjustment in the baking time or proportion of water to flour before you get a loaf that is too your liking. If the bread is too doughy, use less water or cook for a little longer.