Baking artisan bread at home is so fun! This No Knead Cranberry Walnut Bread is crusty, beautiful, and full of dried cranberries and nuts. Plus, it’s very easy to make and is prep-ahead friendly. The best part? No kneading required!
Baking bread at home may seem intimidating, especially artisan bread. But fear not, this no knead cranberry walnut bread is one of the easiest breads to bake at home. Like its name says, there’s no kneading required…really!
You’ll love baking this easy loaf of cranberry walnut bread just in time for the holidays.
The crust is beautiful and it’s got that amazing chewy texture. Plus, it’s filled with delicious cranberries and walnuts, with a hint of orange. So delicious!
Why Bake Bread in a Dutch Oven
There is one main reason why it’s recommended to use a cast iron Dutch oven to bake crusty breads at home: it creates steam!
Yup, it’s all about steam here. The Dutch oven is like a vessel that allows steam from the moist dough to evenly circulate in a contained space, so that the dough can stay moist longer and rise better. The result? Beautiful crusty bread. Plus, you’ll also get that beautiful shiny exterior.
Before baking your cranberry nut bread, preheat a Dutch oven (with the lid on) in a very hot 450 degree F oven. This way, when you pop the unbaked dough into the Dutch oven, it’ll be hot and start creating steam immediately.
How the “No Knead” Method Works
Now, you may be wondering why the “no knead” method works for this cranberry walnut bread recipe. For this method to work, the dough needs to rise for about 18 hours at room temperature. Yes, 18 hours!
It can get pretty scientific with complicated terms that I don’t even fully understand, but basically here’s how it works:
- After the dough is mixed (you don’t even need a mixer, just use a rubber spatula), cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it sit on the counter for 18 hours.
- During this time, the enzymes break down and the yeast starts releasing air, and bubbles form. This movement of air stretches the dough during the 18 hours.
- With this movement, gluten forms. Remember, the whole point of kneading, in general, is to develop gluten. So, in this “no-knead” technique, it’s like the movement of air and bubbles “knead” the bread slowly to form gluten.
After 18 hours, you essentially end up with a dough that has fully developed gluten and is ready to be shaped and baked. Pretty much, let nature do all the work while you go about your day…or sleep!
After the dough has risen, it will be very wet and sticky, which is why you’ll need a decent amount of flour on your working surface when shaping the dough.
Don’t be afraid to let the dough rise for 18 hours on your countertop. The 18 hours will only allow it to ferment and rise magically!
Let’s Make Cranberry Walnut Bread!
Okay, so we’ve gone over why the “no knead” method works and why you’ll achieve optimal results using a hot Dutch oven. Now let’s bring both concepts together!
Per usual, you can find the specific ingredients and step-by-step instructions for this cranberry walnut bread recipe in the recipe card below, but here’s an overview to give you an idea:
- Activate the yeast: Dissolve yeast with warm water and sugar. If the yeast foams up, it’s good. If not, discard and start over with fresh yeast.
- Mix the ingredients to form a sticky dough: Use a rubber spatula to mix all the ingredients.
- Cover and let it rise on your countertop at room temperature for 18 hours, undisturbed.
- Shape the dough: After 18 hours, the dough will double in size and be very sticky and wet. Transfer to a generously floured surface and gently shape into a ball by folding over the edges to the center. Transfer the shaped dough, smooth side up, onto parchment paper.
- Let it rise for 30 minutes and preheat the cast iron Dutch oven: Cover dough with plastic wrap and let it rise on the countertop for 30 minutes. Meanwhile preheat your oven to 450 degrees F and place the Dutch oven (with lid) inside so it gets hot.
- Bake! Carefully score an X on the dough. Transfer the dough, along with the parchment paper, into the hot Dutch oven. Bake for 30 minutes, covered. Then bake for another 8-10 minutes, uncovered, until golden brown.
You can customize this cranberry walnut bread. Here are some ideas:
- Instead of walnuts, use pecans, pistachios, or pumpkin seeds!
- Use half cranberries and half raisins
- I added orange zest, but use lemon zest if desired
I love serving this cranberry walnut bread with some whipped honey butter. It is seriously SO GOOD!
You will absolutely love this beautiful crusty cranberry walnut bread. It takes very little effort. All you need is patience while you wait for the dough to do its magic in 18 hours!
I always prep the dough the night before and bake it the following day. It’s so easy and effortless when it comes to baking bread. Your bread will turn out so beautiful and your house will smell like a bakery. I love it!
Looking for more cranberry recipes? Check these out!
- Cranberry Orange Pound Cake
- Dark Chocolate and Cranberry Scones
- Cranberry Crumb Bars
- Other savory cranberry recipes: Cranberry Orange Glazed Ham, Butternut Squash and Brussels Sprouts Salad, Brussels Sprouts Salad with Grapes and Cranberries.
Tips for Success
- Let the dough rise, undisturbed, for 18 hours on your countertop. Just let it be, nothing to worry about. Be sure to cover the bowl with plastic wrap so air doesn’t get in.
- After 18 hours, the dough will be very wet and sticky. Transfer to a generously floured surface and sprinkle the dough with some extra flour so it’s easier to work with.
- Shape the dough by folding over the edges to the center to form a ball. Do so gently to avoid bursting the air bubbles trapped inside.
- Make sure the Dutch oven is hot before placing the dough in it, lid on. This will trap the steam from the moist dough. The steam will create that beautiful crust.
No Knead Cranberry Walnut Bread
- ½ teaspoon active dry yeast
- 1 ½ cups warm water (110 to 115 degrees F)
- 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons Kosher salt
- 3 cups bread flour, plus 2 tablespoons
- ¾ cup dried cranberries
- ½ cup walnuts, roughly chopped
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 tablespoon orange zest
- Make sure you have an oven-proof 6-quart Dutch oven with a lid.
- Dissolve the yeast and sugar with the warm water (110 to 115 degrees F). Let it sit for 10 minutes or until foamed up. If it doesn’t foam up, discard and start over with fresh yeast.
- In a large bowl, whisk bread flour with salt. Add the yeast mixture and honey and combine with a wooden spoon. Add the cranberries, walnuts, and orange zest. Stir to combine until no pockets of flour remain. Dough will be very sticky and wet. Cover bowl tightly with plastic wrap and let it rest for 18 hours on the countertop, undisturbed. Yes, 18 hours!
- After 18 hours, the dough will be very wet and sticky.
- Transfer dough to a well-floured surface and turn to coat with flour. Sprinkle more bread flour as needed. Gently fold the dough over from the edges to the center to form a flat-ish ball, being careful not to burst the air bubbles trapped inside.
- Transfer dough to a sheet of parchment paper, smooth side up (no need to transfer back to the bowl, on the counter is fine). Gently press the sides to re-shape if needed, and flour the top a little bit. Cover with plastic wrap, and let it rest for 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, place the Dutch oven (with lid) inside the oven. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F for 30 minutes.
- Score an X or pattern on the dough.
- Remove the hot Dutch oven from the oven, and immediately transfer the dough to the Dutch oven, along with parchment paper. Cover with lid and bake for 30 minutes. Uncover, and bake for another 8-10 minutes until golden brown.
- Remove from oven, and lift it up with the parchment paper. Cool for 20 minutes before serving. Enjoy!
- Special equipment: 6 quart Dutch oven with lid.
- Let the dough rise for 18 hours, undisturbed, on your countertop at room temperature. This time will be perfect for the yeast to develop and for the gluten to form. Be sure to cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap.
- When shaping the dough, work gently to prevent the air bubbles trapped inside from bursting.
- Storing: Store in an airtight container at room temperature for 5 days.
- Recipe customized and adapted from the amazing Sally at Sally’s Baking Addiction!