No-Knead Rustic Bread from the AICR Test Kitchen

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As one of the world's foremost cancer research institutes, the American Institute for Cancer Research leads the way in making evidence-based recommendations that promote lifestyle choices among the public that can prevent the development of some cancers. To this end, every other week their test kitchen delivers a new and delicious recipe.

This week: No-knead rustic bread with fruit and nuts.

Ahh, the comforting aroma of freshly baked bread. Even with busy, busy schedules, making artisanal bread from scratch IS possible.

This rustic bread is bursting with fiber from phytonutrient-rich dried fruit, nuts and whole-wheat flour. Delicious eaten warm from the oven, smeared with a favorite spread or as French toast, this no-knead bread surely will become a staple. It’s also preservative-free and costs a whole lot less than breads made by artisans.

This bread dough requires just 15 to 20 minutes to prepare and 8 to 24 hours to rise. With a little forethought, you can enjoy homemade bread later the same day or the next. For same day bread, mix dough early in the morning, let rise all day, fold for second rise in afternoon, bake before dinner and enjoy with dinner. Voila! You’ll have plenty for breakfast, too. For next day bread, make dough and let it rise overnight. The next day, fold dough for second rise and bake when convenient. Yeast develops flavor and texture while you go on your merry way or as you sleep.

This recipe is flexible and forgiving – you don’t have to fret about the dough being perfect or punctual timing. And the mix-in possibilities are endless – olives, seeds (pumpkin, flax, poppy, sunflower, sesame), herbs (rosemary, chives, caraway, dill) and yes, even dark chocolate. Many no-knead recipes use pre-heated baking crocks with lids. Our recipe doesn’t. We use a parchment-lined baking sheet to prevent sticking, a water bath to create steam for a crunchy crust and a kitchen thermometer to guarantee a perfect crumb at 205 degrees F.

No-Knead Rustic Bread with Fruit and Nuts

  • 2¼ cups white whole-wheat flour or whole-wheat flour
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup dried fruit (dried cranberries, raisins, currants, cherries, chopped apricots, chopped dates)
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped nuts (walnuts, pecans, almonds, pistachios)
  • 1 Tbsp. cinnamon, optional
  • 2 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp instant/rapid rise yeast (not active)
  • ¼ cup honey
  • 1¾ - 2 cups water, plus ¼ cup

Instructions

In large mixing bowl, stir all ingredients together until sticky dough forms, about 30 seconds. If dough is not sticky to touch, add water in 1-tablespoon increments. Dough should be somewhat tacky when touched and loose, known as being shaggy.

Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let dough sit at room temperature (about 70 degrees F) in draft free spot anywhere from 8 to 24 hours. After first rise, dough surface will be dotted with bubbles and dough will have doubled in size.

Line baking pan with parchment paper or grease pan with oil. Using your hands, gently fold in sides toward center, like closing box top flaps. Shape dough into a round loaf, similar to a French boule. Dough should feel tight and not completely spring back when poked. Lift dough from bowl in one piece and place seam side down on baking pan. Cover dough with a dishtowel and let sit 2 hours. After second rise, dough will be puffy.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place top baking rack in middle of oven and bottom rack on lowest level. In casserole dish add 1 cup hot water and place on bottom rack for steam while baking.

Bake bread 55-70 minutes. Insert cooking thermometer in thickest part of loaf. Bread is done when thermometer reads 205 degrees F. If not using thermometer, tap bread with finger. If bread sounds hollow, it is done.

Place bread on cooling rack. Let cool for easier slicing.
To store, wrap cooled bread in plastic or place in plastic bag for a few days. Bread may be sliced and frozen for quick toasting later or made into French toast.

Makes 1 (9-inch x 3-inch) boule, 22 servings.

Per serving: 149 calories, 4 g total fat (<1 g saturated fat), 27 g carbohydrate, 4 g protein, 2.5 g dietary fiber, 214 mg sodium.

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