Hello, my name is Coley and I’m a carb-o-holic.
Which is exactly why I’m on a pretty strict cleanse until I leave for Chile next week. My body was like girl, you need chillllllllll. And I was like, alright, fiiiiiine.
I made this recipe back at the beginning of December and got to enjoy this bread all throughout the holiday season. But now, because I’m on this stupid cleans, it means NOPE. No bread for me. However, if you’re wise enough to be eating like a normal human, boy oh boy is this the recipe for you. Especially if you live in the Northeast, as we’re expected to get a bit of (more) snow tomorrow. You know the bread aisles at every market will be bare (what is UP with that?), so skip the trip and make your own instead. I promise it’s easy and relatively fuss-free, the only caveat is that you have to get started the day before. So bust out your measuring cups – it’s time to start baking.
Yeast doughs are notoriously finicky, as yeast is a living creature who’s performance depends on so many factors: moisture, temperature, time, salt, sugar, etc. It’s why so many people are scared to work with yeast in the first place, and yeah, not that long ago I, too, was totally in that camp. But once I started baking with yeast, I learned that being afraid of it was so, so ridiculous. For starters, the ingredients for baking bread are relatively cheap, and although it takes a lot of time to prepare, the work involved is (usually) pretty easy. Not to mention, even less-than-perfect homemade bread is still pretty awesome, especially when it’s warm, right out of the oven.
I’ve dabbled in my fair share bread baking, often with less than stellar results (hello sourdough), but once I tried the no-knead method developed by Jim Lahey of Sullivan Street Bakery in NYC, I was hooked. It has a tangy, complex flavor, tender-chewy crumb, and a crispy, caramelized crust. It’s seriously simple to make, and consistently comes out great. All it takes is time. That’s where the magic happens.
After the initial mixing, which takes all of about 5 minutes (including measuring), the dough rests overnight to let the yeast do it’s thang. Once it’s more than doubled in size, smells a bit boozy, and the surface is dotted with bubbles, it gets folded onto itself a few times, then formed into a ball, and left to rise for about another hour. Next, it gets baked inside a dutch oven inside a super hot regular oven, and what results is a loaf that tastes like it was made by a professional baker. The first time I tried this recipe, I was amazed at what came out of the oven, and it’s been near perfect every single time since… And that has been a lot of times (hello carb-o-holics anonymous).
It’s a near fool-proof recipe and such a great introduction to the curious world of bread-baking. Go ahead and make a loaf this weekend and have an extra slice for me (with plenty of butter, please). I’ll be over here with my green juice and quinoa.
Stay warm, my friends!
- 3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 1 tablespoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon instant yeast
- 1 1/2 cups luke-warm water
- 1 scant cup walnuts
- 1 scant cup golden raisins (regular raisins are fine)
- In a large bowl, combine the flour, salt, sugar, cinnamon and yeast. Add the raisins and walnuts and mix to coat, then pour in the water and stir until just combined. Cover with plastic wrap or a damp kitchen towel and place the bowl in a warm, draft free spot to rise for 12-18 hours (I like to do it overnight).
- The dough is ready when it smells yeasty and is dotted with bubbles all over. Turn it out onto a lightly floured work surface, dust with flour, then turn it over onto itself twice, like a book. Gently shape the dough into a ball, then cover with a towel and let rise for an additional hour.
- In the meantime preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Place a large dutch oven or other oven-proof pot with a lid into the oven as it heats up and leave it in there for 30 minutes to get nice and hot.
- Score the top of the dough with a sharp knife, then use a bench scraper to carefully transfer it to the pot. Cover and bake for 30 minutes, then remove the lid and allow it to cook for another 10-30 minutes, depending, to let it get deep brown and caramelized.
- Remove bread from the dutch oven and allow it to cool completely before slicing.
- Bread will keep, wrapped tightly, at room temperature for up to 3 days. I prefer to slice the bread then place it in a zip-top bag and freeze it. Slices can be removed straight from the freezer and toasted for best results.