First Born: Fig & Walnut (No Knead) Bread

I have mentioned many times here that I am "yeast challenged".
I stay away from any recipe that says sticky buns, morning danish, breads, doughs and anything that contains yeast in the ingredient list. I am scared.

There are so many good bakers out there, why wouldn't I just buy a good loaf of bread?

I have Jim Lahey's My Bread book and I must be the only person who has a food blog that hasn't made his "no knead bread" yet. I have been a bread virgin.

Well, today, I would like to introduce you to my first born. A gorgeous homemade loaf of fig and walnut bread with a beautiful crust and soft interior w/ airy holes, much like Lahey's Sullivan St. Bakery loaves.

There is something very satisfying about baking bread (so everyone keeps telling me). This was SO SIMPLE, the only thing I needed was patience and time. The little bundle of joy will expand overnight while you are sleeping (sort of like Santa coming down the chimney), then turn into this big oval water balloon. Science. It's a beautiful thing.

If you haven't tried this method of baking bread yet, please do. Nothing to be scared about. It turns out a perfect loaf every time. You just need to plan it right, since it's the long fermentation that makes this bread the best loaf you will ever have. Figure if you start the process at 8 a.m. on a Saturday (mixing the ingredients), then by 11 a.m. on Sunday you will have a beautiful, warm crusty loaf.

I am now addicted to baking bread.

Fig & Walnut No Knead Bread (adapted from Dinner with Julie & Jim Lahey's My Bread)

*Julie's trick is using parchment paper to line the pot, unless you want the bread fused to the bottom.

3 cups all-purpose or bread flour (I used bread flour), plus more for dusting
1/4 tsp. active dry yeast
1 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons water
1/2 cup chopped dried figs or raisins
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1 tsp. cinnamon (or a good hefty shake)

In a large bowl stir together the flour, yeast and salt. Add 1 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons water, and stir until blended; dough will be very sticky. Add the figs, walnuts and cinnamon and stir to sort of combine. Don't worry if the cinnamon is streaky. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a plate and let it rest on the countertop for 24 hours at room temperature.

The dough is ready when its surface is wet looking and bubbly. My dough spread and doubled in size after 24 hours on the counter in a glass bowl.

Put a piece of parchment paper on the countertop and scrape the dough out onto it (with a rubber spatula or dough scraper); dust the surface generously with flour and fold the dough over itself a couple times; sprinkle again with flour and cover with a tea towel.
(Make sure it’s not terry cloth, which will stick.) Let it sit for another 2-3 hours).

The baby will be fat and round and bouncy feeling, sort of like a water balloon after 3 hours (the longer it sits, the better it will be).

When you’re ready to bake, preheat the oven to 450F. Put a 6-8 quart heavy covered pot (cast iron, enamel, Pyrex or ceramic) in oven as it heats (I used a Le Creuset 8qt oval Dutch oven).

With pot holders, pull the pot out of the oven, lift up the dough on the sheet of parchment and drop it into the pot. Cover with the lid and bake for 30 minutes, then uncover and bake for another 10 minutes, until crusty and golden.

Remove from the pot and cool on a wire rack, or eat warm.

No butter needed.

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Ann from Illinois said…
Congrats on your first born. S/he is CUTE (gorgeous, that is)!
Susan..... said…
I got my Lahey book last week and can't wait to try this. I make bread the old fashioned way but this crust looks better then anything 8 minutes of hard kneading produced. I like the addition of figs and walnuts.
Claudia said…
Jim Lahey's book has become my friend. The bread looks like perfection personified and that man knows his stuff.
Karen said…
Beautiful loaf of bread! Yeast bread is like magic, isn't it?!
Ciao Chow Linda said…
My favorite bread book and bread baker. My kids gave me a clay pot like he features in the book for ciabatta but I have still not made it. You're giving me the push to try it this week.
Melbourne Girl said…
I love no knead bread! It really is so easy. I haven't made it with figs or nuts before though, so as soon as it cools down here a little I'm going to try it.

Beth said…
Okay, Stacey; I'm going to try it! You make it look easy - and delicious - so it's on my "to do" list for the weekend. I'll keep you posted - hope it turns out as beautifully as yours did!

Dana said…
Yay! You finally made it! I LOVE that bread. Every so often I am tempted to buy another bread book and then I realize that I don't really need one - his bread is so perfect. For a first time, you got an amazing loaf - I'm impressed. I love the parchment paper tip.
Joanne said…
I am SO proud of you for delving into the wild and wacky world of yeasted breads! I NEED to try this...dried figs are pretty much my life.
Hi Stacy! Your courage has inspired me. I'm going to take the plunge as well.
I have everything -- even the courage (maybe) -- to make this. It's a gray, gray day and this just might turn it into a great day.
tasteofbeirut said…
This would be the perfect bread to try my new-found country flour bought in the mountains this weekend!
I'm so impressed with your baking skills, I'm a little afraid of yeast!