As the leaves begin to turn and the crispness of autumn fills the air, our thoughts often wander to the comforting flavors and aromas of the season. There’s something about fall that beckons us to slow down and savor the richness of life’s bounty. I’m Peggy Bridges, and today I want to share with you a recipe that embodies the essence of this enchanting time of year: No Knead Harvest Bread.
In creating this dish, I was inspired by the desire to capture the comfort and wholesomeness of the season in every slice. Whether paired with a hearty soup or simply enjoyed with a dab of butter, this No Knead Harvest Bread is a testament to the joy of autumnal baking. It’s my hope that as you pull this beautiful loaf from the oven, you’ll feel a deep sense of connection to the earth’s generous offerings and the simple pleasures that come with making something from the heart.
No Knead Harvest Bread
- 2 large bowls
- plastic wrap
- 1 rack
- 3 ¼ cups Lancelot Hi-Gluten Flour or King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
- A few swirls of olive oil—for measurement sake I’ll say approximately ¼ cup
- 3-4 lb chicken legs bone-in and with skin, seasoned lightly with salt and pepper
- 5 whole heads of organic garlic cloves separated about 40, unpeeled
- 6 Large fresh thyme sprigs
- ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 2 cups Wormtown’s Blonde Cougar Summer Ale An American Blond Ale
- 3 pats of salted butter
- 1 cup King Arthur Traditional Whole Wheat Flour or King Arthur White Whole Wheat Flour
- 2 tablespoons salt
- ½ teaspoon instant yeast
- 1 ¾ cup cool water
- ¾ cup dried cranberries
- ½ cup golden raisins
- 1 cup coarsely chopped pecans or walnuts
- 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, then work in the fruit and nuts.
- Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and let it rest at room temperature overnight, or for at least 8 hours; it'll become bubbly and rise quite a bit, so use a large bowl.
- Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, and form it into a log or round loaf to fit your 14" to 15" long stoneware baker; 9" x 12" oval deep casserole dish; or 9" to 10" round baking crock.
- Place the dough in the lightly greased pan, smooth side up.
- Cover and let rise at room temperature for about 2 hours, until it's become puffy. It should rise noticeably, but it's not a real high-riser.
- Bake the bread at 375 degrees for 45 to 50 minutes. Remove the bread from the oven, turn out onto a rack, and cool before slicing.
No Knead Harvest Bread is a celebration of the bounty that each season brings, a homage to the grains and seeds that have been staples in our pantries for generations. This bread, with its hearty texture and rich flavors, is a testament to the beauty of simplicity in baking. It’s a recipe that invites you to slow down, to savor the process as much as the product.
One of the most endearing qualities of No Knead Harvest Bread is its accessibility. The no-knead method removes the barrier of technical skill that can often intimidate those new to bread making. It’s a gentle introduction to the art of bread baking, encouraging even the most hesitant of bakers to dip their hands into the world of homemade loaves.
The key to this bread lies in its slow fermentation. The extended rise time not only develops the flavor but also allows the dough to naturally strengthen without the need for vigorous kneading. This patience in preparation is rewarded with a complex taste and a texture that is both chewy and tender.
When selecting your mix-ins for the bread, let the seasons guide you. A blend of whole grains, nuts, and dried fruits not only adds nutritional value but also layers of flavor and texture. Think of sunflower seeds, flaxseeds, or pumpkin seeds for a nutty crunch; oats or millet for a wholesome chew; and perhaps some dried cranberries or apricots for a touch of sweetness. Each ingredient contributes its voice to the harmonious chorus of the loaf.
Do not shy away from experimenting with different flour types to find the combination that speaks to you. A mix of whole wheat and bread flour often yields a robust and earthy foundation, while a touch of rye can introduce a subtle spiciness. Trust your instincts and let your palate be your guide.
No Knead Harvest Bread, with its hearty blend of seeds, nuts, and whole grains, is a celebration of the harvest season’s bounty. This bread, rustic and full of texture, invites us to slow down and savor each bite. It’s a bread that feels like a warm embrace on a crisp autumn day, perfect for those moments when we gather around the table to share in the season’s offerings.
When it comes to serving this wholesome loaf, simplicity is key. Imagine a thick slice of No Knead Harvest Bread as the foundation for a generous smear of soft, rich cheese—perhaps a creamy goat cheese or a tangy blue. The contrast between the earthy flavors of the bread and the sharpness of the cheese creates a delightful symphony on the palate.
For a heartier option, consider pairing this bread with a bowl of your favorite soup or stew. The robust texture of the bread makes it an excellent vehicle for soaking up broths and savoring the complex layers of flavor in your soup. Whether it’s a velvety butternut squash soup or a hearty lentil stew, the No Knead Harvest Bread complements it beautifully, adding a satisfying crunch to your meal.
If you’re looking to start your day with this bread, try toasting a slice until it’s just golden and crispy. Top it with a layer of your preferred nut butter and a drizzle of honey or a sprinkle of cinnamon. The nuttiness of the bread pairs wonderfully with the sweetness of the toppings, creating a breakfast that feels both indulgent and nourishing.
For a festive gathering, this bread can be the centerpiece of a charcuterie board. Surround slices with an assortment of cured meats, pickles, olives, and fruit preserves. Each component offers a different taste and texture, allowing guests to build their own perfect bite. The No Knead Harvest Bread stands up to bold flavors and provides a satisfying chew that is sure to be a conversation starter.
FAQs about No Knead Harvest Bread
- Can I use whole wheat flour instead of all-purpose flour? Yes, you can substitute whole wheat flour for a portion of the all-purpose flour to add more fiber and nutrients. However, keep in mind that whole wheat flour absorbs more liquid, so you may need to adjust the hydration of your dough slightly.
- Do I need a Dutch oven to bake this bread? A Dutch oven is ideal for baking No Knead Harvest Bread because it mimics a professional steam oven by trapping moisture and creating a crispy crust. If you don’t have a Dutch oven, you can use a heavy pot with a lid or create steam in your oven by placing a pan of water on the bottom rack.
- Can I add other ingredients like nuts or dried fruit? Absolutely! No Knead Harvest Bread is very adaptable. Feel free to incorporate nuts, dried fruits, or other seeds to customize the flavor and texture. Just be mindful of the added moisture from fruits and adjust accordingly.
- How do I know when my bread is fully baked? The bread should sound hollow when tapped on the bottom, indicating that it’s done. An instant-read thermometer inserted into the center should read around 200°F (93°C). Additionally, the crust should be deeply golden and firm to the touch.
- Can I make this bread if I’m new to baking? Yes, this recipe is perfect for beginners. The no-knead method eliminates some of the more intimidating aspects of bread-making, and the long fermentation time is very forgiving. Just follow the instructions carefully, and don’t hesitate to experiment.
As we draw this No Knead Harvest Bread blog post to a close, I reflect on the journey we’ve taken together. From the initial stir of flour and water to the final, satisfying slice, this bread is a testament to the beauty of simplicity and the joy of homemade craftsmanship. At Foodies of New England, we celebrate the rich tapestry of flavors that our region has to offer, and this bread, with its hearty grains and seeds, is a perfect homage to the harvest season.
This No Knead Harvest Bread, with its robust crust and tender, flavorful crumb, is more than just a recipe—it’s a story of tradition and innovation. It’s a reminder that some of the most rewarding things in life come from the simplest of processes, and that patience often yields the most delectable results. As you break bread with family and friends, you’re not just sharing a meal; you’re weaving a thread into the fabric of shared experiences that bind us all.