Slow-Rise, No-Knead Light Wheat (Or White) Bread

READY IN: 18hrs 15mins
YIELD: 1 loaf




  • For the first stage:
  • Thoroughly combine the flours, sugar, salt and yeast in a 3-quart or larger bowl; mix with a large spoon.
  • Add the butter or oil and water, stirring vigorously until well combined; the dough may be stiff.
  • Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a greased flexible spatula.
  • Drizzle the dough top with about a teaspoon of melted butter or oil; use a pastry brush or your fingertips to spread it evenly over the dough.
  • Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and set aside at a room temperature of about 70 degrees or cooler for 12 to 18 hours.
  • For the second stage:
  • Vigorously stir the dough until it deflates.
  • Generously coat a 9-by-5-inch or similar large (1 3/4- to 2-quart) loaf pan with nonstick cooking oil spray.
  • Turn out the dough into the pan.
  • Drizzle the melted butter or vegetable oil over the loaf top, then spread it out with a pastry brush or your fingertips until the surface is evenly coated and looks smooth.
  • Sift about 1/2 tablespoon flour evenly over the loaf top.
  • Cover the pan tightly with plastic wrap.
  • For a “regular” rise:
  • Let stand at room temperature for 45 to 75 minutes or until the dough nearly reaches the pan rim.
  • (The time will vary considerably depending on the temperature of the room and the length of the first rise.).
  • Gently remove the plastic.
  • Let it stand until the dough top rises 1/4 inch above the rim.
  • For a “quick” rise:
  • Place a microwave-safe cup containing 1 cup of water in a rear corner of the microwave oven.
  • Microwave for 2 minutes, until the water almost boils.
  • Put the loaf in the microwave oven as far from the water as possible.
  • Let it rise 30 to 50 minutes, or until the dough nears the pan rim.
  • Gently remove the plastic.
  • Continue the rise until the dough top is 1/4 inch above the rim.
  • For baking:
  • Position an oven rack in the middle third of the oven; preheat to 425 degrees.
  • Gently transfer the pan to the oven; jarring can cause deflating.
  • Bake for 25 to 35 minutes, until the loaf is well browned on top and sounds hollow when thumped with a finger.
  • Transfer to a wire rack and let cool for several minutes, then run a knife around the loaf to loosen.
  • Transfer the loaf to the rack and let it cool completely before cutting it or storing in an airtight container.