I am a big fan of no knead yeast breads because they always seem much less labor intensive than regular breads. Kneading dough is fun and a good tension reliever, but they do tend to make a little bit more of a mess than no knead breads do. You might picture one style of crusty, rustic bread when you think of no knead breads when, in fact, there are many different types of recipes that can be adapted into excellent no knead recipes.
This No Knead Cinnamon Raisin Bread is a sandwich-style loaf bread that is an easier to make version of Cinnamon Swirl Bread – but still makes excellent cinnamon raisin toast. The dough has brown sugar, cinnamon, vanilla and (of course) raisins incorporated directly into it and it is all kneaded in a stand mixer, so there is no hand kneading or rolling required. You don’t get that lovely swirled look in your finished bread, but you will be able to cut at least 50% of the time and work from the recipe by giving it up. For me, that means I can have cinnamon raisin bread a lot more often, so it is a trade off that I am willing to make!
The bread smells amazing when it comes out of the oven, and the scent of warm cinnamon with a hint of yeast will fill your kitchen within seconds. The bread isn’t sweet, but it does have a hint of brown sugar to emphasize the sweetness of the raisins, which plump up slightly during baking. The cinnamon comes through strongly, but isn’t overwhelming, so the bread tastes very well balanced. It is soft, moist and light. I used golden raisins, though any kind of raisins you have on hand will do. You can even increase the amount of raisins if you happen to like your bread extra-raisiny, or you could replace some of the raisins with a small amount of chopped nuts for some crunch. Walnuts or pecans both work very well with raisins. And, of course, you could add a little allspice to the cinnamon to make the bread a bit spicier for yet another variation.
Make sure that you allow the bread to completely cool before slicing it, or the bread may be slightly crumbly. Use a serrated knife to get clean slices, and if your knife is sharp you’ll be able to easily cut thin slices for extra crispy toast and thick slices for making french toast.
Homemade bread is a wonderful thing to make and to keep around the house, but there are several things that keep us from baking bread as often as we might like. The first thing is time. It can take a couple of hours to take a loaf from start to finish and, while we might have time on the weekends, this rules it out for weekdays. The second thing is difficulty. Kneading bread can seem like a daunting task to novice bakers, and even experienced bakers don’t always want to get the counter covered with flour. This No Knead Whole Wheat Honey Sandwich Bread is one of the easiest breads I’ve ever made and it is darn tasty. It requires no kneading and has a very short rising time, so the bread can be fully baked just about one hour after you start to mix the ingredients together!
The secret to this bread is the temperature of the ingredients used. It uses both bread flour (you can use all purpose, but bread flour gives you a slightly better texture in the finished loaf) and whole wheat flour, which gives the bread a great structure and a good wheat flavor. The flour is warmed before adding it to the rest of the ingredients, and all that heat kick starts the yeast into a rapid rise and cuts the total rising time to just 30 minutes!
The bread also does all of its rising right in the loaf pan that it is baked in. You don’t need to knead the dough before putting it into the pan, just stir it very vigorously when you are incorporating all of the ingredients. If you have a stand mixer, you can mix your dough with a dough hook and transfer it directly to the loaf pan. If you don’t mind a little kneading, you can turn the bread onto a lightly floured surface and knead it for just 1 minute to smooth it out even more before putting it into the loaf pan. I usually do the little bit of extra kneading, but it definitely isn’t necessary if you just put a little bit of muscle into your mixing.
The finished bread is a great sandwich loaf. It has a good whole wheat flavor to it and just a hint of sweetness from the honey. It slices easily, toasts well and makes fantastic sandwiches. You can eat it while it is still warm, if you want to serve it for dinner, but it is best after it has cooled completely. You can use whole wheat flour or white whole wheat flour in this bread and you’ll get good results both ways, but a little bit lighter flavor from the white whole wheat if you prefer a slightly less hearty whole wheat flavor.
Bread baking is perceived as being a very time-consuming and tricky process, with yeast, flour, proofing and shaping to contend with. This is why the concept of low-maintenance “no-knead” bread is so appealing. I tend to think that bread making only seems time consuming because of the long rises, not the few minutes of kneading dough, but I’m always up for a recipe that is easy and produces a great-tasting result and “no-knead” bread fits that bill perfectly.
To make no-knead bread, you basically only need to mix up the dough, give it a long, slow rise, and bake it without any kneading or shaping necessary. The long slow rise allows both gluten and flavor to develop, so that you end up with a bread that tastes good and also rises up well. The dough can be wetter than a dough that needs to be handled, which means that you’re also able to get a loaf that has a thick, crunchy crust and a moist, chewy interior. No-knead breads are usually baked in some sort of lidded pot or dutch oven (and are sometimes called “Pot Bread” as a result). This enclosed space helps the crust to develop and shapes the bread so you don’t have to.
This loaf is based on a Nancy Baggett recipe and is definitely as easy as promised. It had a great flavor, with a nice butteriness and a very subtle tang from the long first rise. It also had a wonderfully chewy interior and an excellent crust. My bread rose well and had a nice, open texture. You can substitute bread flour for the all purpose in this recipe, but you will still get very good results with the all purpose (all purpose is what I buy in bulk – and what most people keep in their kitchens – so it is definitely a little more convenient).
The shape of your bread will vary slightly depending on the size pot you use to bake it in. I used my Dutch oven, but if you don’t have a suitable pot already, you might want to check out Nancy’s advice on picking a good one for bread baking.