The first recipe that I posted on my blog was no-knead bread, and it is still one of my absolute favorite things to bake. I just love that with very little effort, I can have an amazing loaf of freshly baked bread any time that I want it! And there are so many different varieties, the possibilities are endless. I’ve shared bacon and carrot with you, and today I have a recipe for cranberry walnut bread. This might be my new favorite. The tart, sweet cranberries pair so nicely with the toasty walnuts. And it makes the best toast!!
So when I say very little effort, I mean compared to traditional bread that requires lots of kneading. There is definitely a little bit of work involved in this. But it really is minimal compared to most bread recipes! What it does require is a lot of hands-off time. 15 to 21 hours to be exact. BUT! I’d estimate that with this recipe, you’ll spend a total of 6 minutes start to finish actually doing any work. 6 minutes of effort for the most amazing fresh baked bread!! That’s pretty awesome. Here’s a run-down:
-mix together the flour, yeast, salt, cranberries, walnuts, and water in a bowl. 3 minutes of effort
-let it sit at room temperature for 12 – 18 hours
-shape the dough into a ball. 3 minutes of effort
-let it sit for 2 hours
-transfer the dough to a pre-heated dutch oven. 30 seconds of effort
-bake for about 45 minutes
Not bad, right? Just takes a little planning for your timing. And once you figure it out, you can have fresh baked bread all of the time. This cranberry walnut version is the perfect bread for fall and winter!
No-Knead Cranberry Walnut Bread
Recipe adapted from My Bread by Jim Lahey
Equipment: a 4 1/2 to 5 1/2 quart enameled cast-iron pot with a tight fitting lid (I use a Le Creuset Dutch Oven)
3 Cups (400 grams) Bread Flour
1/2 tsp instant or other active dry yeast
1 1/4 tsp (8 grams) salt
½ cup (85 grams) dried cranberries
½ cup (50 grams) chopped walnuts
1 1/3 cup (350 grams) cool water
extra flour for dusting
In a large bowl, stir together the flour, yeast, salt, cranberries, and walnuts. Add the water and using a rubber spatula mix until a shaggy ball forms. If the dough does not feel sticky to the touch, add in a bit more water. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it sit at room temperature for about 12 – 18 hours, until the surface is dotted with bubbles and the dough has more than doubled in size.
When the slow rise is complete, Lay a 12 x 18 inch sheet of parchment paper inside a 10-inch skillet and spray it with nonstick cooking spray. Generously dust your counter, a large cutting board, or a silicone mat with flour. Use a rubber spatula to scrape the dough out in one piece. Using lightly floured hands, lift the edges of the dough and fold them in toward the center. Nudge and tuck in the edges of the dough to make it round. Transfer the dough, seam-side down, to the parchment-lined skillet. A bench scraper is helpful for doing this. Spray a piece of plastic wrap with nonstick cooking spray and cover the dough loosely with the wrap. Place the dough in a warm, draft-free spot to rise for 1 to 2 hours. The dough is ready when it is almost doubled, and if it holds an indentation when gently poked with your finger.
Half an hour before the end of the second rise, preheat the oven to 475 degrees F, with a rack in the lower third position, and place a covered pot in the center of the rack. Take the pre-heated pot out of the oven, and carefully transfer the dough into the pot by lifting the parchment paper and lowering it into the pot. Quickly cover the pot and put it in the oven. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove the lid and continue baking until the bread is a deep chestnut color, 10 – 20 mins more. Make sure to check the bread so it doesn’t burn, because every oven is different. An instant-read thermometer will register 210 degrees, or you can tap the bottom and listen for a hollow sound. Carefully remove the bread from the pot and transfer to a wire rack to cool.