Introduction: Walnut Craisin Bread - Easy to Make, Small Effort, Huge Reward

About: I got into wood working a few years back and have also been dabbling with electronics since about forever. The combination of both I find very fascinating and so I am always trying to come up with projects tha…

I've been meaning to post this recipe for a while. It's just too good to not be made and eaten by everybody. I've been posting mostly electronic and woodworking related stuff and for you fellow geeks and nerds out there, maybe this is an incentive to trade the garage with the kitchen for a day. It's worth it, believe me.

The original recipe came from a friend who had it from the New York Times. I've added the Walnuts, Craisins and Whole Wheat over the years and simplified the procedure on top. The total work time is about 20 min spread out over 20 hours.

Let's get this started.

Step 1: Tools

To make this bread you'll need a:

  1. Fork
  2. Large cereal bowl
  3. 1/4 tea spoon measurement thingy (or a scale)
  4. 1 cup measurement thingy (or a scale)
  5. Measurement cup for liquids (or a scale)
  6. Large bowl with top
  7. Large enamel coated or tempered glass pot with top
  8. Two oven mitts
  9. Spatula
  10. Oven

Step 2: Ingredients

You'll need the following ingredients for the bread:

  • 1 5/8 cups or 390 mL or 390 g of water
  • 1 cup or 106 g of walnuts
  • 1 cup or 128 g of craisins, i.e. dried cranberries
  • 2 cups or 312 g all-purpose or bread flour, more for dusting
  • 1 cup or 156 g of whole grain flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon or 1 g of instant yeast
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons or 9 g of salt

Note: You can substitute the craisins with raisins, although I personally like the taste of the bread with craisins better.

Step 3: Preparation Day 1 - Mixing Dough & Letting It Rise

On the first day, the dough is being prepared and then allowed to rise until the next day. The whole time frame for this is about 10 minutes of effort at most:
  1. Pour the water into a small bowl. Add walnut and craisins and stir them a little to make sure they are wetted from all sides. If you don't do this step, you may get dry flour pockets in the creases of the walnuts and/or craisins.
  2. Let the water sit for a few minutes.
  3. Combine the white flour, whole grain flour, yeast and salt in the large plastic bowl.
  4. Mix these dry ingredients well with the fork.
  5. Pour the water, walnuts and craisins onto the flour mixture.
  6. Stir everything with the fork until it's well blended. No flour residue should be at the walls or bottoms of the bowl. Just shaggy and sticky dough. Make sure all the flour is worked into the dough glob.
  7. Cover the bowl with its plastic top.
  8. Place the bowl at a spot that has and maintains room temperature. 70F / 25C is ideal. I always put it next to a heating vent in the center portion of our house.
  9. Let the dough rise for at least 12 hours, preferably about 18 hours. Which means, forget about the bread for a while.

Step 4: Preparation Day 2 - 2nd Rise & Baking

On the second day, the dough is allowed to rise for a second time and then it is baked. The work effort is about 15 minutes at most:

  1. The dough is ready when its surface is dotted with bubbles. The dough should be covering the entire bottom of the bowl.
  2. If the inside of the top of the bowl is wet, dry it of, place it upside down on the table and flour it. Alternatively, you can use a large cutting board.
  3. Dig your hands underneath the dough from all sides until you can lift all of it out.
  4. Place the dough on the flour covered surface.
  5. Sprinkle some more flour on top of the dough, then fold it over on itself twice.
  6. Sprinkle some more flour on top.
  7. Wash the large bowl, dry it, and place it over the dough, i.e. cover the dough.
  8. Let the dough rest for about 15 minutes.
  9. Lift the bowl up from the top. Turn the bowl around and then place the dough into it. I usually place the side that was facing upwards downwards.
  10. Cover the bowl with its top and place it in a location that gets warm when preheating the oven.
  11. Let the dough rise for 90 minutes.
  12. Put the glass or ceramic pot together with its top into the oven.
  13. Heat up the oven to 400 F / 200 C.
  14. Let the oven and the pot heat up for 30 minutes.
  15. Using the oven mittens, remove the pot from the oven and place it on top of the oven. Take the lid off and place it on the side. Remember that the pot and the lid are hot, so don't place them on anything that can melt.
  16. Remove the plastic lid from the plastic bowl with the bread.
  17. With the silicone spatula, drop the entire dough ball/glob into the hot pot.
  18. Sprinkle some flour on top.
  19. Close the metal lid and place the pot back in the oven.
  20. Bake if for 30 minutes with the lid closed.
  21. Bake it for another 15 minutes without the lid.
  22. Again with the oven mittens, take the pot out of the oven and remove the lid.
  23. Keep using the mittens to remove the bread with both hands from the pot. The bread may sometimes sticks a little to the bottom. Be careful to avoid touching the hot pot.
  24. Lay the bread on a grid or screen to let it cool down.
  25. After 1-2 hours you need to decide whether you prefer a hard crunchy crust or a softer crust.
  26. For a hard crunchy crust you are done.
  27. For a softer crust, place the bread in one of those flimsy shopping bags and loosely tie its handles together. That will keep more moisture in the bread and creates a nice not to hard crust. (Do not apply the bag too early. It can cause a too high moisture level in the bread and the bread will have a very slight soggy feel to it.)
  28. Let the bread cool down entirely. I typically wait until the next day.

Step 5: Eat It & Enjoy

Get a sharp knife, cut your bread in pieces and enjoy the deliciousness.

My personal favorite is: Bread on the bottom, then (real) butter on top, then Nutella on top, and then Gouda on top. Awesomeness square. Yummy.

Please don't waste this delicious bread on peanut butter. Ewww.

Sooo, anyway. I hope you'll enjoy this recipe. Send some pics if you make it and comments are welcome as always.