These aren't "quick breads," the almost cake-like loaves that don't need kneading or rising because they are leavened with baking soda or baking powder. Both brands of these new mixes produce real yeast breads, prepared with an included packet of yeast.
In recent years, we've seen lots of recipes for "artisan" bread that requires no kneading. But adding less-than-an-hour to no-kneading makes these new mixes pretty amazing, right? Well ...
The Krusteaz box offers three preparation methods. The first, "no knead artisan bread," requires rise, rest and bake times totaling three hours. Directions for bread-machine users take whatever length of time your machine normally takes, but "cycles less than two hours ... are not recommended." And then there's "1 hour no knead artisan loaf," involving a 30-minute rest, followed by 30 minutes in the oven.
(Actually, on the side of the box, there's a fourth method, "traditional bread," with 10 minutes of kneading and two rises. Including the baking; that one takes about 21/2 hours.)
The Fleischmann's box has only one method, which calls for a 25-minute rise and 20 to 25 minutes in the oven.
Mr. Tidbit ran two tests: He prepared the "country white" bread mix from each brand, using the less-than-one-hour directions provided. Then he prepared two loaves of a Krusteaz mix, one with the less-than-one-hour artisan directions, the other with the no-knead directions that take three hours.
That second test was more interesting. The three-hour no-knead loaf was quite acceptable: it rose to a nice, smoothly rounded height, had a good crust and a nice texture. The one-hour loaf was low, jagged, dense, damp and essentially unrisen.
The Fleischmann's loaf won the between-the-brands one-hour-recipe contest, but just barely. It was equally low, dense and damp, but it had a smoother exterior.
Mr. Tidbit's piercing analysis? Bread takes time.