The man with the cravats, Matt Preston, showed off some of his own cooking skills in the last season of MasterChef. One of his “cheats” recipes caught my attention: No Prove Bread. Probably more accurately called No Knead Bread, this is the simplest bread recipe I’ve ever seen. You just mix up the ingredients, leave in the fridge overnight and then plop on a baking tray and throw it in the oven. Other popular no knead recipes include a lot more fussing about with multiple proving and shaping stages. Frankly if I want to put in that much effort I’m happy to knead too: it’s fun! When you’re truly in cheat mode Matt’s recipe looks a lot more practical.
This recipe is magic: as Matt says by all the theory of bread making it “shouldn’t” work, but it somehow does. I didn’t dare mess with the magic with tweaks first time around. I did, however, halve the recipe — as written it makes 2 large loaves, nearly 2kg of bread which was too much at once. Although I could freeze some I figured: if the recipe is really this easy why bother? You can just cook another batch and enjoy it warm from the oven again!
Challenges and Tips
This really is a simple recipe, but there are a few things to keep in mind:
- Even a half batch is a lot of dough, and it will expand overnight. I used my largest mixing bowl to avoid overflow.
- The dough is very sticky to handle, so a plastic dough scraper or similar is very handy for getting it from the bowl onto your baking tray. Remember: you’re in cheat mode, there’s no need to perfectly shape your bread. Just get the size roughly right and plonk it on a tray.
- I made individual rolls, which the recipe says should take about 40 minutes to bake. Mine were ready in much less than that: under 25 minutes.
The main thing is to keep an eye on the bread as it bakes as oven temperatures and your roll sizes will differ. I possibly could have baked mine for another 2-3 minutes but at 40 minutes I would have had only charred disappointment!
This is a proper cheats recipe for bread: really minimal active time for a very good result! A crispy crust and soft innards that is delicious warm from the over. The texture is not perfect, a little on the heavy side, but shaped as small rolls the crumb opens nicely enough. Yes, you can make bread with a bit better texture, crust, and even flavour, but you need to work a lot harder for it.
Even as someone that enjoys the process of making bread I will be reaching for this cheat recipe plenty of times out of sheer convenience: if you think ahead it’s even easier than buying a loaf, and you can’t get fresher!