Thursday, March 7, 2013


Hier geht's zur deutschen Version dieses Posts

Time flies, and, before I could even turn the February leaf of my (heavily scribbled on) kitchen calender, we have March and a new Avid Baker's Challenge.

Hanaâ, whose choices we ABC bakers follow meekly, picked the No-Knead Chocolate Cherry Pecan Bread from King Arthur's website (our 2013 recipe source.) for our March project.


This bread is made with a so called no-knead dough - Jim Lahey's brain child, and an amazingly simple method. Instead of long kneading, enough time and a very small amount of yeast help the dough develop itself, while you sleep the sleep of the happy, lazy, baker.

Confusingly, our chosen March recipe comes in two slightly different versions, one listed on the KA website, the other on the KA blog. The blogger, P J Hamel, not only changed the procedure, but also made significant changes to the ingredients, trying to make it easier for newbies to prepare this (a bit challenging) bread.

Finding the dough too soft to work with, she reduced the water. To make sure the dough would rise fast enough, she cut down on the salt, and upped the yeast.

She also mixed the dough first without add-ins, kneading in chocolate, cherries and nuts only after the first rise. Adding the additional instant yeast to the (already risen!) dough - I really can't imagine why!

After reading both versions, I decided on the original recipe from KA's website. A regular bread baker, I'm not afraid of higher hydration doughs, and know from experience that even a pinch of instant yeast lets the dough rise just fine - if you give it enough time!

There are also a few tricks to make handling very soft doughs less difficult, and I'm going to share those with you.

If you follow the recipe on KA website (proofing the dough in an oiled bowl, and turning it out into the piping hot crock pot) you risk burns, and might deflate the bread in transit.

Letting the bread proof in the pan you bake it in (as suggested in the blog) wasn't too appealing to me, either. If you don't have the right sized pan, and it's not preheated, the bread will spread more than you like.

And then there was the complaint of other bakers that pieces of chocolate or cherries will stick out from the dough, and get scorched during the bake!

Flour is your friend - not only in the dough, but around it!

Well, there is a way to kill both birds with one stone: more flour! But not in the dough, but around it. Proofing your loaf in a towel-lined, well-floured rising basket (or bowl) makes turning it out a cinch, and prevents those peek-a-boo add-ins from burning.

"Cook's Illustrated", my sage adviser in all things cooking, came up with an (almost) no-knead bread, using a parchment paper sling to transport the bread into the Dutch oven with ease, and without a hazard to your health.

I love hazelnuts
I made one change to the ingredients: I love hazelnuts (the prevalent nut in Germany), especially in rye bread, so I chose those instead of pecans.

They are not as easily available in the US, but Trader Joe's offers them in good quality and for a very reasonable price.

I can recommend King Arthur's flours, I use them in my bakery, too.

CHOCOLATE CHERRY HAZELNUT BREAD (adapted from King Arthur Flour website)

363 g/12 3/4 oz unbleached all-purpose flour (King Arthur's has 12% protein) or bread flour
57 g/2 oz whole rye flour

 57 g/2 oz whole wheat flour
12 g/2 1/2 tsp. salt
1 g/1/4 tsp. instant yeast
399 g/14 oz cool water (1 3/4 cup)
93 g/3 1/4 oz dried cherries
85 g/3 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips
171 g/6 oz whole hazelnuts, toasted 

Mix flours, salt, yeast, and water in a large bowl. Add cherries, chocolate chips, and nuts. Stir well to make a very soft dough. Cover, and let rest at room temperature overnight (at least 12 hours.)

After 12 hours the dough is puffy and bubbly

 DAY 2
Turn bubbly and puffy dough out onto a floured surface, and, using two bowl scrapers, fold it from the outside to the middle a few times, until you have a round.

With floured hands or bench knife, transfer it to a well floured, towel lined bowl, or rising basket, smooth side down.

Sprinkle dough with flour, cover it with plastic wrap or kitchen towel, and let it rise at room temperature for about 2 hours, or until it has grown 1 1/2 times its original size, and a slight indentation remains when poked with a finger.

Preheat oven to 450°F and place a heavy, 4- to 4 1/2-quart Dutch oven in oven while it heats.

Parchment paper helps transferring the bread into the Dutch oven - no burns!

Turn proofed bread out onto large piece of parchment paper. Remove hot pot from oven, and lift bread with paper into the pot. Cover pot with lid, and return it to oven.

Bake bread for 20 minutes, then remove lid and continue to bake for another 30 minutes, or until bread is deep brown, sounds hollow when thumped on the bottom, and registers about 205°F.

Turn bread out onto a rack, and cool before slicing.

My bread looks a bit more rustic with the flour

When we tasted the bread (still warm, we couldn't wait) we loved it!  It had a nice crust, and offered a pleasant contrast between the hearty crumb and the sweetness of the cherries and chocolate, and the crunchiness of the hazelnuts.

Though this is a "dessert bread", and can't be eaten with cold cuts or cheese, I prefer it to an all sweet bread, like stollen or panettone, anytime!

Submitted to YeastSpotting


  1. Oh yum! Hazelnuts were a great choice!

  2. Thanks, Paula. I love this bread, just with butter, a great dessert.

  3. Beautiful, love that crust! Hazelnuts and cherries are a perfect combo too.

  4. Thanks, Lien. For us Europeans are hazelnuts more common, here in Maine people hardly know them. I really liked the dried sour cherries in the bread, I didn't expect them to taste so good.

  5. Your bread turned out really beautiful. I love the light colored round hazelnuts against the dark red cherries. Great tip on flouring a piece of cloth. For me too, this bread was like "dessert bread". I sliced leftover bread the same day and froze it.

    1. Thanks, Hanaâ! The slices really look like landscapes. I froze half of the loaf, too, two people can't eat it fast enough.

  6. I agree with Lien and you, hazelnuts seem like the perfect friend for cherries, wish I had thought about that. (Although I love pecans, very dangerous to have them in the house, I keep snacking on them as is. Oh and so expensive here too!) I like the way they show up in the bread, very pretty!

  7. Thanks! Nuts are my favorite snack, too, at least they are healthier than dark chocolate, my other favorite snack (so nicely combined in this bread)

  8. love it!
    I totally agree with so much of what you write about the method... a floured kitchen towel helps a lot with high hydration and I also could not imagine using the same pan for proofing and baking!
    well done on this challenge and I may join the group now that I know it exists :)

  9. Thanks for visiting, Barbara. And please do join us! The nice thing about the ABC bakers is the fact that I bake things that I would probably never have thought of. And one project a month is really doable.