country sourdough with walnuts + raisins

country sourdough with walnuts + raisins | The Clever Carrot

Oh, yeah baby.

You’re lucky this even made it to post, because I kept picking at it as I was trying to shoot. It was nearly impossible to stay away! The inside is so chewy, studded with plump organic raisins and bits of crunchy walnuts. And the crust… oh, the crust. Crispy, crackly and delicious. Raisin bread reminds me of when I was kid. My mom used to slather it with cream cheese and pack it for my lunch (bless you, Pepperidge Farm). I still love raisin bread to this day, and I’m proud to share my homemade grown-up version.

country sourdough with walnuts + raisins | The Clever Carrotcountry sourdough with walnuts + raisins | The Clever Carrot

For my baking friends, here’s the breakdown:

  • I used a 50/50 whole wheat + bread flour starter (%100 hydration)
  • 1 hour autolyse (during that time I soaked the nuts and raisins)
  • Salt and fillings added after autolyse
  • Stretch and fold every 30 minutes for 2 hours
  • Bulk ferment at room temperature (currently 65 F) overnight, about 12-18 hours
  • 2nd proof = approximately 45 minutes- 1 hour
  • Bake in Dutch oven @450 F for 20 minutes (covered) + 40 minutes uncovered.
  • Crack open the oven door during the last 10 minutes of baking to harden the crust.

Confused? I don’t blame you (I have a headache after reading that myself…) Refer to this in-depth beginner’s guide for everything you need to know about sourdough.

country sourdough with walnuts + raisins | The Clever Carrot

As always, bread baking is as much of an art as it is a science. What works for me, may or may not work for you. Ingredients, starters, and overall environment play a key role in how your bread will turn out. So, get to know your dough. Tweak as you go. Weigh your ingredients. Trust your instincts. Own your style. Eat your mistakes (breadcrumbs, French toast, bread pudding- it’s all good). Most of all, have fun.

Tips:

  • This bread is best if consumed within the first 1-2 days of baking. If you prefer, you can cut the dough in half to make 2 small loaves. Eat one + freeze one.
  • You will need a brotform, cloth lined basket or bowl for the 2nd rise. I line my bowls with a cotton kitchen towel or sometimes I’ll even use a paper towel (shh! don’t tell…)
  • To freeze, wrap your bread in plastic wrap and then in foil. It should last up to 3 months.
  • All ingredients are weighed using a digital kitchen scale for best results.

country sourdough with walnuts + raisins | The Clever Carrot

country sourdough with walnuts + raisins
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • 150g active, fed starter
  • 350g water, preferably filtered
  • 500g bread flour (not all purpose)
  • 10g fine sea salt
  • 65 g chopped walnuts
  • 65 g raisins
  • fine ground cornmeal, for dusting
*6 quart Dutch oven
** Roughly chop the walnuts the same size as the raisins
*** My starter is 50/50 bread flour + whole wheat (100% hydration)
**** This recipe was tested with King Arthur, Gold Medal + Pillsbury bread flour
Instructions
  1. To make the dough: In a large bowl, combine the starter, water, and bread flour. Squish everything together with your hands until all of the flour is absorbed. Cover with plastic wrap and let it rest (autolyse) for 1 hour.
  2. Soak the filling: Add the chopped walnuts and raisins to a bowl and cover with ½ cup of water. Leave to soak while the dough is resting. Drain before using.
  3. To the dough: Add the salt + ½ tsp. of water (to help it dissolve). Add the walnuts and raisins. Lift and fold the dough over itself several times, and squish with your hands to incorporate. The dough will tear slightly as you fold, and the salt will not fully dissolve. Don't worry- this is normal. Work the dough as best you can until it comes back together into a rough ball. At this point, you shouldn't feel any grains of salt beneath your hands.
  4. Bulk fermentation: Cover your bowl with plastic wrap and a clean kitchen towel. Leave it in a warm, sunny spot to rise. Your dough is ready when it no longer looks dense, and has increased in volume about 1½- 2x its original size. This can take anywhere from 3-12 hours depending on the temperature of your ingredients, the potency of your starter, and surrounding environment. In the winter, I make my dough in the afternoon and leave it to rise overnight at room temperature (65 F) for about 12-18 hours. In the warmer months, I bulk ferment in the fridge to control the rise rate and to prevent over proofing. *See note below.
  5. Stretch & fold: To strengthen your dough, do a series of stretch and folds every 30 minutes for 2 hours during bulk fermentation. Simply gather a portion of the dough, stretch it upwards and then fold it over itself. Rotate the bowl ¼ turn, and repeat until you have come full circle. You will have completed 4 folds. Try to keep the nuts and raisins tucked into the dough and not on the outside to prevent burning.
  6. Shaping the dough: To cut and shape the dough, divide your work surface in half; lightly flour one side (for cutting) and leave the other half clean (for shaping).
  7. Remove the dough from the bowl, and place onto the floured section so that it does not stick. You do not need to 'punch down' the dough; it will gently deflate as you fold and shape it.
  8. Cut the dough in half to make 2 loaves, or leave it whole for a single loaf.
  9. To shape, use a bench scraper to move your dough to the non-floured section (if there is any flour present, it will be difficult to shape- brush away any excess). Gather the dough, one side at a time, and fold it into the center. Flip the dough over and place it seam side down. Using your hands, gently cup the sides of the dough and rotate it, using quarter turns in a circular motion. You can also pull it towards you to even out the shape. Repeat this process until you are happy with its appearance.
  10. Second rise: Place your dough(s) into a cloth lined basket, bowl or floured brotform. It will need to rise again, this time for a shorter period, about 45 minutes to 1 hour. It is ready when the dough is slightly puffy.
  11. Preparing the baking vessel: Preheat your oven to 450F. Generously coat the bottom of a Dutch oven(s) with cornmeal to prevent sticking. Sprinkle a good amount of cornmeal on top of the dough as well (this will be the bottom once it's flipped over).
  12. Carefully invert the dough into the pot, cornmeal side down.
  13. Slashing the dough: Right before your bread goes into the oven, make a shallow slash about 2 inches long in the center of the dough. Use a bread lame, sharp pairing or serrated knife.
  14. Baking the bread: Place your bread into the oven (lid on) and bake for 20 minutes. Remove the lid, and continue to bake (uncovered) for an additional 40 minutes or until deep, golden brown. During the last 10 minutes of baking, crack open the oven door. This allows the moisture to escape, leaving your bread with a crisp crust.
  15. You can also take the internal temperature of your bread to double check that it is done. For sourdough, it should read about 205 F.
  16. Cooling: Remove the bread from the oven, and cool on a wire rack for at least an hour before slicing. The longer you wait, the easier it will be to cut. Don't slice into it too soon or else the texture will be gummy!
Notes
* Because sourdough does not contain commercial yeast, it takes considerably longer to rise. In the summer months, it can take anywhere between 3-4 hours @ 85 F whereas in the winter, about 6-12 hours @ 55 F. It is very important to watch your dough and not the clock. It's ready, when it's ready.

sourdough bread: a beginner’s guide

sourdough bread: a beginner's guide | theclevercarrot.com

In 2013, my culinary resolution was to learn how to bake bread.

I researched, tested and baked countless loaves with both good and bad results.

My journey began with a yeasted ‘no-knead’ recipe, and eventually worked my way up to the holy grail; sourdough bread.

Sourdough is unique because it does not require commercial yeast in order to rise.

It’s made with a fermented culture of flour and water, or a ‘starter’ which acts as a natural leavening agent.

Sourdough is known for its characteristic flavor (ranging from mild to strong), chewy texture and crisp crust. From a health standpoint, it dominates when compared to standard loaves. The naturally occurring acids and long fermentation help to break down the proteins and gluten, making it more digestible and easy for the body to absorb.

And it tastes darn good.

sourdough bread: a beginner's guide | theclevercarrot.com

In this tutorial, I will attempt to explain the sourdough making process based on my personal experience.

There is no kneading involved and you do not need a bread machine.

The information is divided into sections for easy reference. If you’re a recipe anaylizer like me, you have come to the right place!

And now, I present the longest post ever…

sourdough starter | theclevercarrot.com

The Starter

Simply put, a sourdough starter is made from flour and water.

The combination attracts wild yeast and bacteria from its surrounding environment, creating a culture of microorganisms that will naturally leaven your bread. It must be kept ‘alive’ with regular feeds (equal parts flour + water) to maintain its strength. A well-fed, active starter is characterized by numerous bubbles, a puffy or ‘spongy’ texture and growth that doubles in size.

Where to Obtain a Starter

All sourdough starters are different. They can be made from scratch, purchased online, or if you’re lucky someone will share a portion of their starter with you. Starters range from thick to thin in texture and can be made with a variety of flours. I use two different starters; one is homemade and the other was a gift from my friend Celia. She dried a portion of her starter and mailed it all the way from Sydney, Australia.

How To Use Your Starter

Begin by removing your starter from the fridge. If a dark liquid has formed on the top, simply poor it off. This is called ‘hooch’ and forms when your starter has exhausted itself and needs to be fed or ‘refreshed.’

*Note: even without a dark liquid present, all starters must be fed before baking sourdough bread.

How To Feed Your Starter

If you have a very large amount of starter, begin by creating a levain. This is an offshoot of your original starter. To a bowl, add about 1/2- 1 cup of your starter (the exact amount will vary depending on how many loaves you want to bake- be flexible and experiment with the amount). The next step is to feed your levain.

For feeding, the type of flour you use will vary depending on the type of starer you have. For my starters, I use 2 tbsp bread flour + 2 tbsp whole wheat flour + 1/4 cup water. Mix well with a fork to combine. Leave your levain out at room temperature, covered. Don’t forget to feed your original container of starter and place it back into the fridge.

*Note: once your starter is active, and you add it to your recipe, you might have some levain leftover in the bowl. This is normal. It can be used for additional recipes including muffins, cakes and other baked goods. Or, simply discard.

When To Use Your Starter

Your starter is ready to use when numerous bubbles appear on the surface, the texture is puffy (like roasted marshmallow fluff), and it has doubled in size. It should smell ‘fruity’ and not like gym socks.

If you are still unsure, perform the float test.

FLOAT TEST: fill a glass with water and drop a teaspoon of starter into the glass. If it floats, it’s ready to use. If it sinks, give it an additional feed.

For best results, time the float test when your starter is at its peak height (before it falls and needs to be fed again).

sourdough bread: a beginner's guide | theclevercarrot.com

The Dough

Add everything (except the salt) to a large bowl. Squish the mixture together with your hands until all of the flour is absorbed. The dough will look rough and shaggy.

Let the dough rest or ‘autolyse’ for about 30 minutes, or up to 1 hour.

TIP: for best results, weigh all of your ingredients using a digital kitchen scale. Use bread flour for better gluten development and overall texture.

AUTOLYSE: resting period by which the flour hydrates and gluten begins to develop. Strong gluten = good bread. Your dough will be easier to shape after autolyse.

*In general, autolyse can range anywhere from 15 minutes up to 4 hours depending on the type of bread you are making and your personal baking schedule. I find that a minimum of 30 minutes works best in this particular recipe. 

sourdough bread: a beginner's guide | theclevercarrot.com

The Salt

After autolyse, add the salt to the dough.

Sprinkle with a tiny bit of water to help it dissolve. Lift and fold the dough over itself several times, squishing with your hands to incorporate. The dough will tear slightly as you fold, and the salt will not fully dissolve. Don’t worry- this is normal.

*A note on salt- although there are varying opinions on the subject, adding salt before autolyse will tighten the gluten, which is why it is recommended to add it after the dough has had time to rest. However, I’ll be honest with you – I’ve thrown it in with the rest of the ingredients out of sheer laziness with very good results. You be the judge.

sourdough bread: a beginner's guide | theclevercarrot.com

Bulk Fermentation

Cover your bowl with plastic wrap and a clean kitchen towel. Leave it in a warm, sunny spot to rise. This initial rise is called ‘bulk fermentation’ and is very important to the development and strength of the dough.

Your dough is ready when it no longer looks dense, and has increased in volume about 1 1/2- 2x its original size. This can take anywhere from 3-12 hours depending on the temperature of your ingredients, the potency of your starter and surrounding environment.

TIP: allow the dough to rise in a bowl or clear container with measuring marks. You can visually track its growth and won’t be tempted to rush the process.

BONUS TIP: during bulk fermentation, you have the option to perform a series of ‘stretch & folds’ to strengthen the dough. Simply gather a portion of the dough, stretch it upwards and then fold it over itself. Rotate the bowl 1/4 turn and repeat this process until you have come full circle. Do this every 30 minutes for 2 hours. Although this step is not mandatory, it will increase the total volume of your bread.

*Because sourdough bread does not contain commercial yeast, it takes considerably longer to rise. In the summer months, it can take anywhere between 3-4 hours @ 85 F whereas in the winter, about 6-12 hours @ 55 F. It is very important to watch your dough and not the clock. It’s ready, when it’s ready. 

sourdough bread: a beginner's guide | theclevercarrot.comsourdough bread: a beginner's guide | theclevercarrot.com

Cutting + Shaping

Before you begin, divide your work surface in half; lightly flour one side (for cutting) and leave the other half clean (for shaping).

Remove the dough from the bowl, and place it onto the floured section so that it does not stick.

Cut the dough in half to make 2 loaves, or leave it whole for a single loaf.

TIP: you do not need to ‘punch down’ the dough; it will gently deflate as you fold and shape it (as described below).

To shape, use a bench scraper to move your dough to the non-floured section of your work space (if there is too much flour present, it will be difficult to shape- brush away any excess). Gather the dough, one side at a time, and fold it over into the center. Flip the dough over and place it seam side down. Using your hands, gently cup the sides of the dough and rotate it, using quarter turns in a circular motion. You can also pull it towards you to even out the shape. Repeat this process until you are happy with its appearance.

*When shaping, the idea is for the dough to catch enough surface tension on a non-floured area in order to create a tight ball. 

. . . . . . . . . . . . . .

sourdough bread: a beginner's guide | theclevercarrot.comsourdough bread: a beginner's guide | theclevercarrot.com

The Vessel

I bake my sourdough in a Dutch oven(s).

The pot traps in heat and moisture which is essential to baking good bread. These elements play a key role in how the slashes will open up or ‘bloom’ and the Dutch oven helps to control this process. So, unless you have a professional deck oven with steam injectors, this happens to be a very reliable alternative. Go Dutch.

*In the past, I’ve tried baking on pizza stones and cookie trays with no luck. My bread would tear at the bottom and sides. I used various steaming methods to remedy this, however I found them to be very cumbersome and not realistic for everyday use. Nothing worked; the lack of moisture in my oven quickly hardened the outside of the bread before it had a chance to fully rise. As a result, it caused my bread to ‘blow out’ (as they say). Using a Dutch oven is a great solution.

sourdough bread: a beginner's guide |  theclevercarrot.com

Second Rise

After shaping the dough, generously coat the bottom of your Dutch oven(s) with cornmeal.

Place the dough inside where it will need to rise again (please read tip below- it’s important).

This time, the dough will rise for a shorter period, about 30 minutes- 1 hour. It is ready when the dough is slightly puffy and no longer dense. Again, factors such as the temperature of your dough and surrounding environment will effect the growth rate.

TIP: this particular dough is considered to be ‘low hydration’ which means it does not contain a lot of water. They are easy to handle and hold their shape very well. That’s why I do the 2nd rise directly in the Dutch oven; it does not spread out.

On the contrary, if you are working with a high hydration dough or if you add more water to this recipe, it might spread out like a pancake due to the increased moisture content. This is normal. As an alternative, instead of doing a free form second rise (as indicated above), place your dough in a cloth lined basket or shallow bowl. I use a small pyrex mixing bowl. It will contain the dough and hold its shape properly.

OVEN SPRING: achieving a good rise requires some effort. Please refer to *note below.

SLASHING: right before your bread goes into the oven, make a slash about 2-3 inches long in the center of the dough; this allows the steam to escape and the dough to expand. You can use a serrated knife or bread lame. I use a very sharp ceramic pairing knife.

*It is important not let the second rise go for too long. This can be difficult to judge. 30 minutes- 1 hour should be sufficient but you will need to experiment and make adjustments if necessary. An over-proofed dough will have exhausted all of its strength, and your bread will not get the boost it needs to produce a nice, round loaf. 

sourdough bread: a beginner's guide | theclevercarrot.com

Baking

Preheat your oven to 450 F. Place your bread into the oven (lid on) and reduce the temperature to 400 F. Bake for 20 minutes. When you remove the lid, your bread will be pale and shiny. Continue to bake (uncovered) for an additional 40 minutes or until deep, golden brown. Keep in mind that all ovens are different; you might have to make minimal adjustments to these temperatures.

TIP: during the last 10 minutes of baking, crack open the oven door. This allows the moisture to escape, leaving your bread with a crisp crust. Or, remove the bread from the pot and let it bake directly on the rack. The latter produces a more crisp crust.

BONUS TIP: you can also take the internal temperature of your bread to double check that it is done. For sourdough, it should read about 205 F.

When the bread is ready, remove it from the oven and transfer to a wire rack. Cool for at least an hour before slicing. Don’t cut too soon or else the inside will have a gummy texture! Patience…

*I used to preheat my Dutch oven before baking, but I have found that this is no longer necessary. When coated with cornmeal, my bread never sticks to the bottom and the crust is always crisp. This saves on both time and energy.

sourdough bread: a beginner's guide |  theclevercarrot.comsourdough bread: a beginner's guide |  theclevercarrot.com

CONGRATULATIONS!! You’ve made it to the end!

Just one last thing- baking sourdough bread is more than just a recipe… it’s an understanding. You’ll notice that there are similar recipes out there and yet no two loaves look alike. The process is all about method, timing and personal touch. Use this tutorial as a guide and make your own adjustments as you go. Once you’ve established a baking schedule (see mine below) the process becomes an imminent rhythm. In the end, you will have created your very own masterpiece that is the ultimate reward.

And don’t forget to eat your mistakes.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . .

WINTER WEEKEND BAKING SCHEDULE

Bread baking is all about timing. Here’s what I do for weekend sourdough –

  • Friday Evening: remove starter from the fridge and pour off any liquid from the top. Scoop some into a bowl, give it a feed and cover. Leave on the counter overnight.
  • Saturday Morning: check the starter- if it’s alive and bubbling, time to make the dough. If not, give it another feed (this is common). Remember to use the water test mentioned above if you’re unsure.
  • Saturday Afternoon: make the dough. Leave on the counter to bulk ferment overnight. The cool winter temperatures slows down the rising process so don’t worry about it billowing over. In the summer, I would bulk ferment overnight in the fridge.
  • Sunday Morning: cut and shape the dough. Place in Dutch oven for second rise. Slash. Bake. Cool. Eat.

*This post was inspired by the lovely Fig Jam + Lime Cordial, Tartine bread, and my epic failures in bread baking. I hope this tutorial finds you well. 

sourdough bread: a beginner's guide
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
This is a low-hydration recipe, meaning it will yield a 'tight' crumb (small holes). It is great for sandwiches and toast.
Author:
Serves: 1-2 loaves
Ingredients
  • 5.35 oz / 150g active, fed starter
  • 8.80 oz / 250g water, preferably filtered
  • .90 oz / 25g olive oil
  • 17.65 oz / 500g bread flour (not all purpose)
  • .35 oz / 10g fine sea salt
  • fine ground cornmeal, for dusting
*6 quart Dutch oven
** This recipe was tested with King Arthur, Gold Medal + Pillsbury bread flour
Instructions
  1. To make the dough: In a large bowl, combine the starter, water, olive oil and bread flour. Squish everything together with your hands until all of the flour is absorbed. Rest (autolyse) for 30 minutes.
  2. Add the salt + ½ tsp. of water (to help it dissolve). Lift and fold the dough over itself several times, and squish with your hands to incorporate. The dough will tear slightly as you fold, and the salt will not fully dissolve. Don't worry- this is normal. Work the dough as best you can until it comes back together into a rough ball. At this point, you shouldn't feel any grains of salt beneath your hands.
  3. Bulk fermentation: Cover your bowl with plastic wrap and a clean kitchen towel. Leave it in a warm, sunny spot to rise. Your dough is ready when it no longer looks dense, and has increased in volume about 1½- 2x its original size. This can take anywhere from 3-12 hours depending on the temperature of your ingredients, the potency of your starter and surrounding environment. I make my dough in the afternoon, and leave it to rise overnight. See my Winter Weekend Baking schedule (in post above) for more details.
  4. Stretch & folds: During bulk fermentation, you have the option to perform a series of 'stretch & folds' to strengthen the dough. Simply gather a portion of the dough, stretch it upwards and then fold it over itself. Rotate the bowl ¼ turn and repeat this process until you have come full circle. Do every 30 minutes for 2 hours. Although this step is not mandatory, it will increase the total volume of your bread.
  5. Cutting & shaping: To cut and shape the dough, divide your work surface in half; lightly flour one side (for cutting) and leave the other half clean (for shaping).
  6. Remove the dough from the bowl, and place onto the floured section so that it does not stick. You do not need to 'punch down' the dough; it will gently deflate as you fold and shape it.
  7. Cut the dough in half to make 2 loaves, or leave it whole for a single loaf.
  8. To shape, use a bench scraper to move your dough to the non-floured section (if there is any flour present, it will be difficult to shape- brush away any excess). Gather the dough, one side at a time, and fold it into the center. Flip the dough over and place it seam side down. Using your hands, gently cup the sides of the dough and rotate it, using quarter turns in a circular motion. You can also pull it towards you to even out the shape. Repeat this process until you are happy with its appearance.*See note below.
  9. Second rise: Coat the bottom of your Dutch oven with cornmeal. Place the dough inside for a second shorter rise, about 1-2 hours. It is ready when the dough is slightly puffy.
  10. Slashing the dough: Right before your bread goes into the oven, make a shallow slash about 2 inches long in the center of the dough. Use a bread lame, a sharp pairing or serrated knife.
  11. Preparing the oven: When ready to bake, preheat your oven to 450 F.
  12. Place your bread into the oven (lid on) and reduce the temperature to 400 F. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove the lid, and continue to bake (uncovered) for an additional 40 minutes or until deep, golden brown. Keep in mind that all ovens are different; you might have to make minimal adjustments to these temperatures.
  13. During the last 10 minutes of baking, crack open the oven door. This allows the moisture to escape, leaving your bread with a crisp crust.
  14. You can also take the internal temperature of your bread to double check that it is done. For sourdough, it should read about 205 F.
  15. Cooling: Remove the bread from the oven, and cool on a wire rack for at least an hour before slicing. Don't cut too soon or else the inside will have a gummy texture!
Notes
*When shaping, the idea is for the dough to catch enough surface tension on a non-floured area in order to create a tight ball. If there is flour present, it will slide around...and drive you nuts.

no-knead artisan bread

no-knead artisan bread | The Clever Carrot

If you’re interested in baking your own bread, this is a great recipe for beginners.

It’s Jim Lahey’s ‘no-knead’ loaf, which means you simply mix up the dough and let it rest overnight. No stand mixer, no bread machine, no kneading- just 2 minutes of prep time. The bread is baked in a dutch oven and the result is to die for; golden, crusty bread with a soft & chewy interior.

no-knead artisan bread | The Clever Carrot

Buckle up people- this is a loooooong tutorial…

1.) Make the dough- Clear away all kitchen clutter and find yourself a nice workspace. In a large bowl, add the dry ingredients and mix with water to combine. It will look something like this…

no-knead artisan bread | The Clever Carrot

As it becomes difficult to stir, get in there with your hands and mush everything together. It will be wet and sticky, with a shaggy appearance…

no-knead artisan bread | The Clever Carrot 

2.) Let it rise- Transfer your dough to a lightly oiled container and cover loosely with plastic wrap. Let the dough rest at room temperature (70 degrees) for 14 hours- overnight (Zzzz…Zzzz…)

no-knead artisan bread | The Clever Carrot

Your dough is ready when it has puffed up in volume, about 1 1/2- 2 x the original size. You will also see lots of bubbles…

no-knead artisan bread | The Clever Carrot

*Note: if your dough isn’t puffed and bubbly after the initial rise, place it in the microwave with the light on (keeping the door ajar). The warmth from the light will give the yeast a boost. My friend Celia gave me this tip and it works like a charm, especially in chilly kitchens!

3.) Shape the dough & let it rise again- Flour a sheet of parchment paper. Remove the dough from its container and place it on top. Fold it in half (like a book) and then fold it in half again. Sorry, no photo for this one- my hands were too sticky!

When you are finished folding, add more flour to the parchment paper (be generous so that it doesn’t stick). Shape the dough into a ball by gently tucking the sides underneath itself. Place onto the paper seam side down, like so…

no-knead artisan bread | The Clever Carrot

Cover loosely with oiled plastic wrap…

no-knead artisan bread | The Clever Carrot

And let it rest again until puffy. It will start to spread out slightly as it rises- this is ok. The 2nd rise will not take as long as the first, but expect to wait about 30 minutes- 2 hours depending how warm your kitchen is (Zzzz…Zzzz). If you’re impatient like me, now is a good time to use that microwave tip!

no-knead artisan bread | The Clever Carrot

4.) Get ready to bake- About 1/2 hour before your dough is ready, preheat your oven to 500 F. Place a dutch oven (with lid) inside for 20 minutes to heat up. *Don’t have a dutch oven? See recipe below for additional bakeware options. When it’s nice and hot, carefully slide your hand underneath the parchment paper and invert the dough into the pot. The seam will now be facing up. Take a look…

no-knead artisan bread | The Clever Carrotno-knead artisan bread | The Clever Carrot

Place your bread into the oven, and immediately reduce the temperature from 500 to 400 F. Bake with the lid on for 40 minutes (this will trap the steam inside making the bread moist). Remove the lid, and bake for an additional 15-20 minutes or until the crust is a deep, golden brown.

no-knead artisan bread | The Clever Carrot*Note: To be sure that your bread is fully cooked, I highly recommend taking its temperature.  Flip the bread on its side, and insert a thermometer into the bottom. It should read between 200-205 F. If not, leave it in a little longer (extra time in bread baking is a good thing). If you’re worried that the top will get too brown, put the lid back on. Better safe than sorry!

no-knead artisan bread | The Clever Carrot

5.) Let it cool- When your bread is done, remove it from the oven and transfer to a wire rack. It should feel light and sound hollow when you knock on the bottom. You’ll also notice a wonderful crackling sound as it cools. Let it rest for at least 1 hour. Cutting it too soon might ruin the texture of the bread, resulting in a gummy crumb! Trust me, I speak from experience…

And there you have it- fabulous, no-knead artisan bread!

no-knead artisan bread | The Clever Carrot

Are you still with me? Good! I’m almost done…

10 loaves ago (and 1 battle wound later), I had absolutely no clue how to bake bread. With practice, I’ve found that the ‘no-knead’ approach is great for beginners and has given me the confidence to take on more challenging recipes. To me, it’s truly a rewarding experience. Bake 1 loaf in your lifetime and you’ll see what I mean. And with the rising cost of bread, it is a great skill to have. This loaf cost less than $1 to make!

no-knead artisan bread
 
Author:
Serves: 1½ pound loaf
Ingredients
  • 3 c. bread flour (not all-purpose) + more for dusting
  • ¼ teaspoon instant yeast
  • 1¼ teaspoons sea salt
  • 1½ c. water
  • 6 quart dutch oven
* I used King Arthur bread flour & SAF instant yeast.
* You can use any 6 quart dutch oven, cast iron, enamel, Pyrex or ceramic bakeware (with lid) that can heat up to 500 degrees F.
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl add the flour, yeast, salt and water. Stir until a rough dough forms.
  2. Transfer to an oiled container and cover loosely with plastic wrap. Let rise for 14 hours- overnight, at room temperature (about 70 degrees). Your dough is ready when it has puffed up in volume, about 1½ -2x its original size. *See note below.
  3. Lightly flour a sheet of parchment paper and place the dough on top. Fold dough in half and then fold it in half again.
  4. Shape the dough into a ball by tucking the sides underneath itself, and place (seam side down) onto the paper. Cover and rest again until puffy but not fully risen, about 30 minutes- 2 hours depending on how warm your kitchen is.
  5. Preheat your oven to 500 F. Put a (6 quart) dutch oven pot inside for 20 minutes. When ready to bake, remove pot from the oven. Place your hand underneath the parchment paper and invert the dough into the pot. The seam will be facing up. Cover with the lid.
  6. Place your bread into the oven, and reduce the temperature from 500 to 400 F. Bake for 40 minutes, covered. Remove the lid and bake for an additional 15 to 20 minutes, until golden brown.
  7. To make sure that the bread is completely cooked through, take its temperature. Carefully tip the bread onto its side and insert a thermometer into the bottom. It should read 200-205 F. If not, place it back into the oven until it is ready (extra time in bread baking is a good thing). If you're worried about the top getting too brown, put the lid back on.
  8. When your bread is ready, transfer to a wire rack to cool. It should feel light and make a hollow sound when you give it a knock underneath. Let it cool for at least 1 hour. Cutting it too soon might ruin the texture resulting in a gummy crumb!
Notes
* If your dough isn't puffed and bubbly after the initial rise, place it in the microwave with the light on (keeping the door ajar). The warmth from the light will give the yeast a boost. My friend Celia gave me this tip and it works like a charm, especially in chilly kitchens!