Tuesday, March 18, 2014

No-Knead Hazelnut Bread

Last summer one of my kind sisters gave me a bag of hazelnuts that she had harvested from a tree in her yard. I brought them home, let them cure, and then went in search of a recipe that might replicate Kneader's hazelnut bread. Yum! I stumbled on this one, which isn't exactly the same and doesn't even call for hazelnuts. But I was intrigued by it, made it, and really like it. It has simple ingredients--no oil or sugar--and is easy to make.

The key to this bread is letting it rise forever. The recipe says 8 hours to overnight, but in my chilly downstairs, I have given it more like 18. I was worried that I would have to plan my life around it, but it seems happy to let me mess with it whenever I have the time. The end product is a dense, but delicious, artisan-type bread.

One other important note: before you try this, you need to be sure that you have something to bake it in. The recipe calls for a 14" to 15" long, lidded stoneware baker (I haven't even heard of such a thing), or a 9"x 12" oval deep casserole dish with cover, or a 9" to 10" round lidded baking crock. I don't have any of those, but I do have a pyrex-type, glass bowl (8" across and about 4" deep) with a lid. It works fine.

The recipe:

3 1/4 c. unbleached, all-purpose flour
1 c. whole wheat flour
2 t. salt
1/2 t. instant yeast
2 c. cool water
1 c. coarsely chopped pecans, walnuts or hazelnuts
optional: (I'm not a huge fan of dried fruit in bread, but I feel obligated to give you the option :)
3/4 c. dried cranberries
1/2 c. golden raisins


Mix the flours, salt, yeast, and water in a large bowl. Stir, then use your hands to mix and form a sticky dough. Work the dough just enough to incorporate all the flour and then work in the nuts (and fruit). I just mixed it with my Kitchenaid until the flours were incorporated.

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and let it rest at room temperature overnight or at least 8 hours; it will become bubbly and rise quite a bit, so use a large bowl. (Like I said, it might take even longer depending on the temperature in your kitchen.)

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, and form it into a log or round loaf to fit into whatever you are going to bake it in. Place the dough in the lightly greased pan/bowl, smooth side up.

Cover and let rise at room temperature for about 2 hours, until it becomes puffy. It should rise noticeably, but it's not a real high-riser.

Place the lid on the pan/bowl, and put the bread in the cold oven. Set the oven temperature to 450 degrees.

Bake the bread for 45 to 50 minutes, then remove the lid and continue baking for another 5 to 15 minutes, until it's deep brown in color, and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center registers about 205 degrees F.

Remove the bread from the oven, turn out onto a rack, and cool before slicing.


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