I have a friend who always has fresh, home-baked bread on the table. Always! The secret? A recipe that has achieved iconhood. This recipe has transcended its original home in recyclable newsprint to join such all-timers as Julia’s boeuf Bourguignon and James Beard’s butter-and-onion sandwich in Recipe Valhalla, with the added bonus that people actually make this one.
I refer to the New York Times’ No-Knead Bread, adapted from the Sullivan Street Bakery. This recipe’s legacy is sufficiently profound as to send writers groping for words like “insurrection” and “cult.” For our purposes, as our Kitchen Academy box “I Loaf You” brings subscribers a bundle of great bread recipes and lessons, the No-Knead has us thinking about the role bread can play in our kitchens, and in our culinary relationships with our kids.
The No-Knead points to a style of cooking that’s brilliantly simple and accessible. While of course more elaborate and exacting recipes are fun, at the end of the day, it’s this kind of replicable, no-fuss staple that keeps kitchens and tables running. For kids making their first forays into baking, a four-ingredient project demonstrates that this stuff doesn’t need to be complicated or intimidating. The specific steps provide ample opportunities to help. From measuring three cups of flour to crafting a shaggy ball of dough, the hands-on processes lend themselves to engagement across age groups.
But the waiting might be the best part. (Or the worst/best, if you want to think of it that way.) The No-Knead has one real trick to it, and that’s planning the work-back schedule. You have to let that dough rise for many hours, all day or overnight. Then you make your move to the oven at the right moment. All of which means this recipe’s one true tax on many kids will be its demands on their patience. Set-it-and-forget-it can work pretty well for junior attention spans—but you can’t quite forget this one.
Together, you can sketch out how the widely spaced steps required fit into your day, or your weekend—and how they’ll culminate in a triumphant big reveal at the dinner table. In this overly complicated age, simple things—like delivering a big, tawny, crusty boule—sometimes get the biggest response. The No-Knead lets kids bask in that glow.
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