Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Whole Wheat Refrigerator Bread

Cheap Eat Challenge, Part 2: Watch as our family of 6 eats on less than $10/day.

I'm a little late to the party. But I usually get there. And then I have trouble leaving. (Perhaps I am not the best person to invite to your party.)

What's refrigerator bread? It's a bread you just mix up (no kneading) and then let sit. And then you can throw it in the refrigerator and let it sit even longer. Then you toss it in a hot cooking vessel and bake it hot.

When I first got this crazy easy bread recipe (okay, many many moons after I got this bread recipe), I tried it 2 ways: one made with 100% all purpose flour, and one made with 100% whole wheat flour. I did the whole wheat first. It stuck to the bottom of my pot. I had to rip it off. It was flat. And then it did not taste good. Did. Not. Taste. Good. No one wanted it, even me. [Note: I sliced and froze it and then after I had some perspective and a tip from a friend, I used it to make grilled cheese sandwiches and they were pretty good.]

The white went much better. I put a square of parchment paper on the bottom of my pot (after cooling and soaking the pot, that is) and it was good. It was very good. Kip just loved it and said I could make it any time. The girls liked it too. Mark boo-hoo'd on account of it being--gasp--round, but eventually he came around too and had several slices. I liked it too, but could not quite forget that it was comprised of pretty much nothing good for me, and yet it was not dessert. I have issues with things like this.

So the third time I made it, I made it a bit healthier by adding a cup of white whole wheat flour. It still tasted great. In fact, no one could even tell that I'd changed it. My friend who makes this bread a lot uses 100% whole wheat, but uses the white whole wheat and hers come out yummy and un-flat. I haven't been brave enough to go there yet, but I trust I will someday. Incidentally this same friend sometimes makes it as a loaf, but also makes little pan breads with it too (think something a little like naan). She does this by taking a little hunk, smashing it flat and then cooking it in a cast iron skillet. It's good.

One final note: You're supposed to let this sit for 4 hours to 3 days (though I bet you could go longer if you wished). You're going to get a denser loaf if you do the 4 hours and a loaf with more bubble holes if you do the longer time period. My family really liked both, but we preferred the denser loaf.

Whole Wheat Refrigerator Bread
Makes 1 loaf
Prep time: 3 minutes
Sit time: 4 hours to several days
Cook time: 30 minutes
Cost: $.50
flour: .20, whole wheat flour: .20, yeast: .10)

2 C all-purpose flour
1 C white whole wheat flour
2 1/4 tsp yeast
3/4-1 tsp salt
1 1/2 C lukewarm water

Combine the dry ingredients and add the water.

(Note: These step-by-step pic's were taken with the 100% brown whole wheat flour recipe I tried, so they're a little darker than you can expect yours to be.)

Stir it until it becomes somewhat spongy. It's gonna look different than a normal loaf of kneaded bread. You don't need to stir it a lot, just until the ingredients are combined.

Cover it up and leave it out for 4 hours. Then you can bake it if you wish. Or you can throw it in the refrigerator for several days (by several I don't mean 21 or anything; I'm talking more like 3 or 4; we left ours for 24 hours).

The dough will expand and look wetter and spongier.

(The white flour/white wheat doughs were a little bubblier and perkier than this one, but you can see somewhat how much wetter it appears.)

When you're ready to cook it, fold it over a time or two.

Let it sit for at least 30 minutes. If it's been refrigerated, give it longer. It needs to get to room temperature (our all white bread got left out waaaay too long--as in maybe 4 or 5 hours--and I thought we'd ruined it and that it would come out just one big burned bubble, but all was well, so don't stress too much if you get distracted or go do your shopping or feel like hanging out on the phone with your credit card company for 17 hours).

While your dough is hanging out, you're going to put your oven rack on the lower third of the oven. Then you're going to put your oven proof pot or Dutch oven in the cold oven with its lid (we used our Dutch oven). Then you're going to turn the oven on. Heat the oven (and pot) to 450 degrees. Also, please be sure your pot can handle heat that high. (Cheap Healthy Good recommends using interwebs for this.)

Now (this is the hardest part), take your pot out. Do I need to say to be careful? Please be careful. It is 450 degrees. That's a little more than a warm summer's day.

Unless your pan is really well-seasoned (which mine wasn't), put a pre-cut square of parchment paper on the bottom. Dump your dough into the hot pan (yup, it's still crazy hot; don't touch it). Cover it (again carefully--the lid's hot too). Now put it carefully into the oven. Make sure your kids aren't around. You don't want to have to put that heavy bread-filled pot into a really hot oven while standing on one foot and using the other foot to hold your toddler back. Also, please remember that part in Hansel and Gretal when the children push the witch into her own oven and cook her. Do not let this happen to you. Not that your kids would do it on purpose, mind you (well, unless you just took their Halloween candy and pitched it, or, worse, ate it all and then lied and said you pitched it because it wasn't good for them). But we all know you or your toddler may have ignored my original warning. So, you're already holding back your toddler and cat with one foot and everyone's crying (seriously, I'm trying to be funny here, but don't do this) and you're holding a pot that's 450 degrees and standing in front of an oven that's the same temperature and what you really don't need is an intense game of tag to rip through your kitchen at this moment. Lock the kids in the bathroom. And don't eat their Halloween candy before you plan to make this bread. Eat it after. Thank you.

Okay, now bake the bread for 30 minutes. Don't forget to let the kids out of the bathroom.

Take the bread out. Are you still being careful? Have you sent the kids outside with their game of tag--freezing temperatures be darned? Very very carefully remove the lid (there may be steam; don't put your face all up in it). Put the pot back in for 5-10 minutes to brown the top of the bread. Then take it out again.

Eat it. It's delicious. And, provided you haven't been pushed into an oven, it's really easy too.



  1. Again, a bread recipe that made me laugh out loud. You're the best.

    I'm trying to think of a non-weird way to put up the whole 450 degrees section in my kitchen...maybe paint it on the walls?

  2. Definitely paint. Preferably acrylic, so it's there much longer.



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