A few years ago, Jim Lahey revolutionized the bread-baking world with his recipe for no-knead bread–a bread that can be made with very little effort (and no kneading) and produces bakery quality loaves in a home oven. Any recipe for yeast bread utilizes gluten development to create a chewy and well-risen loaf of bread, but most bread recipes encourage gluten development with thorough kneading. Jim Lahey’s method, however, uses a very long rising period so that the gluten slowly develops in the bread dough. This long and slow rise uses a minute amount of yeast, and allows for lots of flavor development without an overwhelming yeasty flavor.
Once the dough has risen slowly overnight, it gets shaped before rising a second time to prepare it for the hot oven temperatures. The baking process is what sets this bread apart from all over homemade bread recipes. The loaf is baked inside of a Dutch oven so that the baking environment mimics a well-insulated brick bakery oven. The bread comes out of the oven a rich golden brown color with a crust that crackles when gently squeezed.
This variation has a nice crunch from the addition of toasted walnuts and is very similar to Acme Bakery’s Whole Wheat Walnut Bread that is sold nearly everywhere in the Bay Area. It’s the perfect accompaniment for hearty soups and stews, but it’s also excellent for breakfast or snack once toasted with some butter and jam or ricotta and honey. The whole process is rewarding, not demanding, and makes baking bread a straightforward and simple project.
No Knead Walnut Bread
Make 1 loaf
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup whole-wheat flour
1 tablespoon vital wheat gluten (optional)
1/2 teaspoon active dry yeast
1/2 cup toasted walnuts, chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons table salt
1 1/2 cups room temperature water
- In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, whole wheat flour, wheat gluten, yeast, walnuts, and table salt. Pour in the water and stir with a spatula until a shaggy mass forms. Cover the bowl and let sit at room temperature for 12-18 hours.
- 2. Once the dough has sat out, turn it onto a work surface and knead a few times to shape into a taught round ball. Place on a sheet of greased foil or parchment paper, cover, and let rise at room temperature for 1 1/2-2 hours, until doubled in size.
- Once the dough has risen, make a few 1/2 inch deep slashes on the surface of the loaf with a sharp knife. Place the loaf, with the foil or parchment, in a large (at least 6 quart) Dutch oven, and cover with the lid. Place the Dutch oven in a cold oven, then preheat to 425. Once the oven temperature has reached 425F, bake for 30 minutes, covered, then remove the cover and bake for 20-25 minutes uncovered until deep golden brown. Remove from the oven at let cool for at least 45 minutes before slicing and serving.