No-Knead Crusty Cranberry Nut Bread
Here’s a recipe you’re going to memorize.
And I’m not saying that because it’s so simple. I’m saying it because it’s an unbelievably and awesomely delicious homemade bread with a major crust, a soft and chewy texture, and plenty of irresistible nuts and dried cranberries to keep each piece interesting and unique. You won’t be able to stop making it. You won’t be able to stop eating it. And, as such, you’ll memorize it before the year’s over.
I’ve made this no-knead bread 4x within 2 weeks and I’m not even a bread person. But it MADE ME A BREAD PERSON. Not sure if that’s a bad thing? Thank god we can hide under chunky sweaters and Thanksgiving pants for awhile.
“Homemade bread” and “easy” are terms that don’t typically go hand-in-hand. When you think of homemade bread, you get pretty freaked out, right? Seems like a terrible idea, majorly complicated, and a general waste of time. No thanks. This recipe will completely change that universal thought. I realize that’s a pretty big promise, but I’m confident your perception of homemade bread will switch from “too fancy schmancy” to “wow, I can do this.”
This bread’s got all the bells and whistles and takes zero effort to make.
The general plan:
- Stir 5 ingredients together. Don’t even break out your mixer.
- Stir in extras like chopped walnuts and dried cranberries.
- Shape into a ball and leave it alone for a day.
- Kick up your feet and don’t knead the dough.
- Score an X on top of the dough and bake it.
- You’re done.
The 5 ingredients include kitchen staples like flour, salt, and honey. You’ll also need a little warm water to bring all the ingredients together and activate the yeast. For the yeast, we’re using Red Star Platinum, my favorite. Don’t be nervous– yeast doesn’t bite, I promise. 🙂 It’s just another ingredient you’re adding.
This whole no-work, no-knead, professional-bread-at-home concept has swarmed the internet and after some research, I found it originally came from Jim Lahey of Sullivan Street Bakery in NYC. It’s all very basic ingredients, which I mentioned before, but his method is unique, which includes an 18 hour rise time. 18 hours?! Yes! Don’t be nervous, this 18 hours gives the dough a chance to ferment. And the fermentation time requires absolutely nothing from you. If you’re feeling lazy, great. This bread is for you. Just set it on your counter and forget about it until the next day. The magic happens when you’re not looking!
I added a little honey for some flavor, a little extra yeast, and a bit of flour to make up for the added liquid. Plus lots of walnuts and cranberries for interesting texture. Not that this bread needs any assistance in the texture category. It’s SO crisp and crusty. Just look at it! And that long rise time ensures an amazingly chewy texture.
You’ll bake the bread in a super hot dutch oven. If you don’t have one, you can use any heavy duty pot with a lid, providing it’s oven-proof.
Why a Dutch Oven?
Baking the bread with the lid on traps steam inside the pot, creating that perfect crust. A lid is KEY to this bread recipe’s success! You won’t regret picking up a dutch oven.
It’s so easy, you’ll be silly not to try it. And you’ll really be missing out!
Step-by-step pictures and additional tips below the recipe.
No-Knead Crusty Cranberry Nut Bread
- 3 cups + 2 Tablespoons (390g) all-purpose flour, plus more for hands
- 2 teaspoons coarse sea salt (I find the flavor lacking using regular table salt)
- 1/2 teaspoon Red Star Platinum yeast (instant yeast)
- 3/4 cup (95g) chopped nuts (I like walnuts or pecans)
- 3/4 cup (105g) dried cranberries*
- 1 Tablespoon honey
- 1 and 1/2 cups (360ml) warm water (about 95°F (35°C))
- 6 quart or higher dutch oven or any large oven-safe pot with a lid (lid is crucial-- see post!)
- *No need to grease the bowl.* Stir the first 6 ingredients together in a large bowl. Stir in the warm water. The dough will be pretty sticky-- don't be tempted to add more flour-- you want a sticky dough. Gently shape into a ball as best you can. Cover tightly with plastic wrap or aluminum foil. Set on the counter at room temperature (honestly any normal room temperature is fine!) and allow to rise for 12-18 hours. The dough will double in size, stick to the sides of the bowl, and be covered in air bubbles.
- Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and, using lightly floured hands, shape into a ball as best you can. Doesn't have to be perfect! Transfer dough to a large piece of parchment paper. (Large enough to fit inside your pot and one that is safe under such high heat. I use this parchment and it's never been an issue.)
- Using a very sharp knife, gently score an X into the top. Cover dough lightly with plastic wrap and leave alone for 30 minutes.
- During this 30 minutes, preheat the oven to 475°F (246°C). (Yes, very hot!) Place your dutch oven (with the lid) or heavy duty pot inside for 30 minutes so that it's extremely hot before the dough is placed inside. After 30 minutes, remove the dutch oven from the oven and carefully place the dough inside by lifting it up with the parchment paper and sticking it all-- the parchment paper included-- inside the pot. Cover with the lid.
- Bake for 25 minutes with the lid on. Carefully remove the lid and continue baking for 8-10 more minutes until the bread is golden brown. Remove pot from the oven, carefully remove the bread from the pot, and allow to cool on the counter for 30 minutes before breaking/slicing/serving.
- Cover and store leftover bread at room temperature for 1 week.
Make ahead tip/Freezing: The dough takes up to 18 hours to rise, so this is a wonderful recipe to begin 1 day ahead of time. You can also bake the bread, allow it to cool, and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator and allow to come to room temperature before serving. You can also freeze the dough. Complete the recipe through step 2. Wrap in plastic wrap and place in a freezer-friendly container. To bake, allow dough to thaw overnight in the refrigerator, or for 2-3 hours at room temperature. Continue with step 3 and the rest of the recipe instructions.
*I've been receiving a lot of questions about using whole wheat flour. I haven't tried it yet, but I expect the bread to taste quite tough. Rather, try half all-purpose and half whole wheat.
*Dried cranberries (or raisins!) are best for this wet dough. I haven't tried this bread with fresh or frozen cranberries.
*If your parchment paper can only be heated to a certain temperature, bake the bread at that temperature. Bake the bread a little longer to compensate for the lower temperature.
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Gently stir all of the ingredients together:
This will be a super sticky dough. Remember, do NOT be tempted to add more flour. It will stick to your hands. That’s nothing a quick wash can’t fix!
Let the dough rise at room temperature. This recipe is very forgiving. Any normal-ish room temperature is fine. You’ll know that the dough is finished rising when it has doubled in size and air bubbles have formed on top.
The dough will still be super sticky after rising. That’s ok! Using lightly floured hands, form the sticky dough into a ball and place on a large piece of parchment paper. Allow to rest for 30 minutes, then score an X on top:
Bake! Eat! Enjoy!
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