A sultry summer day.

Heat and humidity so thick you can cut 'em with a bread knife.

That shady deck or cool back porch calls to you, doesn't it? A book, a drink, something to nibble on...

But aye, there's the rub. For devoted DIY-ers, a bag of Cheetos just doesn't cut it.

Which is why I'm sharing with you the easiest ever homemade crunchy bread sticks (no kneading!) and salsa dip (just two ingredients!).

Bookmark this – and read on...

No-knead bread is the summer bread-baker's best friend.

Just stir flour, water, yeast, and salt together, and stash in the fridge. Time will gradually develop the gluten (taking the place of kneading); and enhance the resulting loaf's flavor.

The bread's only down side is identical to its up side: time. When you want fresh bread RIGHT NOW, and didn't think to make no-knead dough ahead of time, you're outta luck.

But wait – don't throw in the dish towel just yet. Batter bread is just as easy as no-knead, and doesn't require hours of refrigeration. Just mix all the ingredients, and beat at high speed for a couple of minutes.

The resulting thick, stretchy/sticky batter can be poured into a loaf pan (check out our ever-popular English Muffin Toasting Bread); or into a 9" x 13" pan to make what we call Blitz Bread,  a kind of fat, soft focaccia.

Let the bread rise while the oven's preheating; bake; enjoy.

Instant gratification.

We'll go on to take that Blitz Bread and turn it into bread sticks, simply by cutting the loaf into sticks and oven-toasting the sticks until crisp – think biscotti.

The sticks are tasty on their own. Add dip, and they're positively addictive.

So let's do it. It's never too hot for homemade!

When you're rushed for time, there's nothing easier – and tastier – than this simple dip.

Just two ingredients – trust me, there's no way you can mess this up.

Did you know that by clicking anywhere on this block of pictures, you can enlarge them to full size? Go ahead, give it a try; it'll work for any of our photos.

Combine one 8-ounce block cream cheese and 1 cup of your favorite salsa in a microwave-safe bowl, or in a saucepan.

Heat in the microwave (covered), or over low heat over a  burner, until the cheese is soft and the salsa has started to bubble a bit.

Remove from the heat, and stir until well combined. Store in the refrigerator (covered once it's cool), until ready to serve.

Note: For a cheesier dip, add 1 to 2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese to the salsa and cream cheese before heating, if desired.

Next: the bread sticks.

Place the following ingredients into a mixing bowl:

1 1/2 cups warm (about 115°F) water
3 tablespoons olive oil, plus additional for drizzling
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
3 1/2 cups (14 3/4 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1 tablespoon instant yeast

Beat at high speed with an electric mixer for 2 minutes.

The mixture will be very  soft and sticky, but will also stretch nicely when you tug it up from the bottom of the bowl; that's the gluten at work.

Lightly grease a 9" x 13" pan and drizzle 1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil into the bottom.

Scoop the batter into the prepared pan, stretching it into the corners as much as possible. If it keeps springing back (which it probably will – the olive oil makes that pan bottom slippery!), walk away from it for 15 minutes.

When you come back, you should be able to gently push that formerly recalcitrant batter all the way to the corners of the pan.

Cover the pan, and let the batter rise at room temperature for 60 minutes, until it's become puffy.

Uncover the pan, and drizzle the batter lightly with additional olive oil. Sprinkle it with the dried herb(s) of your choice, if desired; dried cilantro is a good choice.

While the batter is rising, preheat the oven to 375°F.

Bake the bread until it's golden brown, about 35 to 40 minutes.

Remove it from the oven, wait 5 minutes, then turn it out of the pan onto a rack to cool to room temperature.

To make the bread sticks: Slice the bread in half lengthwise to make two 9" x 13" pieces. Cut each piece in half again crosswise to make four 6 1/2" x 9" pieces. Cut each of those pieces into sticks about 1/2" to 3/4" x 6 1/2".

Lay the sticks side by side on two large, lightly greased baking sheets. Spray, brush, or drizzle with olive oil.

Mix 2 teaspoons ground cumin and 1 teaspoon chili powder. Sprinkle the mixture over the sticks; a fine sieve or tea strainer works pretty well here.

Bake the sticks in a preheated 350°F oven for about 30 minutes, until they're starting to turn golden brown, and are dry and crunchy.

Remove the sticks from the oven, and cool right on the pans. When they're completely cool, store airtight at room temperature for up to a couple of weeks; freeze for longer storage.

Company drops by unexpectedly?

You're covered. Serve the bread sticks with the chilled dip. On the porch. With the ice-cold beverage of your choice.

Read, make, and review (please) our recipe for Chili Sticks with Creamy Salsa Dip.

Print just the recipe.

PJ Hamel
The Author

About PJ Hamel

PJ Hamel grew up in New England, graduated from Brown University, and was a Maine journalist before joining King Arthur Flour in 1990. PJ bakes and writes from her home on Cape Cod, where she enjoys beach-walking, her husband, two dogs, and really good food!