Friday, March 22, 2013

Walnut Pecan Rustic No Knead Bread Recipe


This is a variation of the bread  I made for the Breads and Spreads Class at Williams Sonoma Montclair in October. In October I made an all Walnut Bread, today I used both Walnuts and Pecans. That bread was based on a recipe for a Walnut Rustic Bread attributed to the "Cooking In Cast Iron" book. A little googling and I found very similar recipes that were adapted from Sullivan Street Bakery (NYC) and Mark Bittman, "The Secret of Great Bread: Let Time Do the Work," The New York Times, Nov. 8, 2006. So just in case the legal types get their knickers in a twist, I think have all the bases covered!

Walnut ~ Pecan Rustic No Knead Bread

This bread is almost effortless to make because it requires no kneading. Instead, the dough is allowed to slowly rise over a long period of time. Then it is baked in a preheated covered cast-iron pot, which helps produce a crispy, bakery-style crust on the finished loaf.

Ingredients:

3 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp. active dry yeast
1 3/4 tsp. salt
1 Cup Chopped Walnut and Pecans *
1 1/2 cup Plus 2 Tablespoons Water
Cornmeal as needed

Method:

In a large bowl, combine the flour, yeast, salt, and nuts. Add the water and stir until blended; the dough will be shaggy and very sticky. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Let the dough rest at warm room temperature (about 70°F) until the surface is dotted with bubbles, 12 to 18 hours. (my house is usually in the 67-68°F range in the winter months so it took the full 18 hours)

Place the dough on a lightly floured work surface. Sprinkle the dough with a little flour and fold the dough over onto itself once or twice. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest for 15 minutes.

Using just enough flour to keep the dough from sticking to the work surface or your fingers, gently and quickly shape the dough into a ball. Generously coat a cotton towel, preferably a flour sack towel (not terry cloth), with cornmeal. Put the dough, seam side down, on the towel and dust with more flour or cornmeal. Cover with another cotton towel and let rise until the dough is more than double in size and does not readily spring back when poked with a finger, about 2 hours.


At least 30 minutes before the dough is ready, put a 2 3/4-quart cast-iron pot in the oven and preheat the oven to 450°F.**

Carefully remove the pot from the oven. Slide your hand under the towel and turn the dough over, seam side up, into the pot; it may look like a mess, but that is OK. Shake the pan once or twice if the dough is unevenly distributed; it will straighten out as it bakes. Cover with the lid and bake for 30 minutes. Uncover and continue baking until the loaf is browned, 15 to 30 minutes more.

Transfer the pot to a wire rack and let cool for 10 minutes. Using oven mitts, turn the pot on its side and gently turn the bread; it will release easily. Makes one 1 1/2-lb. loaf.

*Store bought chopped nuts work well, but I find choppingthe  nuts myself produces better results since there is all those fine nut crumbs (nut dust?) that add so much flavor to the dough. Hole and half shelled nuts are expensive. My favourite source is Trader Joe's  where I can buy bagged nut 'bits and pieces' at a really great price.

**The 30 minute pre-heat of the cast iron pot is critical. I often try "what if" scenarios for the things I do in classes and found that any sooner produces something akin to concrete that even the squirrels ignored when I tossed it into the garden. To have good results heat the cast iron pot at least 30 minutes.

In the class I used a 5 Quart Cast Iron Pot, if you're pot is that large just double the recipe. That day I actually made two varieties (herbes de provence and rustic walnut, both balls of dough were plopped into the hot pot at the same time and baked perfectly. The breads came apart easily at the point in which the two varieties met.