Friday, April 25, 2014

No-Knead Sour Cherry Lemon Rye Bread with Nuts

Foodie thoughts flit through my brain 24/7, not taking up much space but continually popping up like the bubbles in a boiling pot. Lately I have nudged these thoughts into a corner, ignoring the urge to cook while we organized boat projects and stowed boat "stuff". 

I was welcomed back aboard the boat this week by a marina neighbor D who wondered how soon to expect some baked goods. Hmmm, nice to be missed, but now the pressure is on to deliver something, and soon. It's fun to share baked treats, to get feedback about new recipes, and sharing keeps us from developing rapidly expanding waistlines. One quick batch of Cranberry & Orange Shortbread Squares flew out of the galley, delivered to the marina office crew, but D is still waiting for his plate of cookies, cinnamon buns or baked something

Should my next baked something be sweet or savory? Decisions, decisions... I wavered, settling on bread with a mix of sweet and savory add-ins. My breads usually feature sourdough and/or unbleached white flour, but two small bags of rye flour begged to join the party. The Capt. loves sour cherries and lemon zest added to sourdough leaves (link), so those items plus a handful of pecans went into the mix. 

The King Arthur Flour website holds an intriguing recipe for No-Knead Chocolate-Cherry-Pecan Bread, unusual both in ingredients and method. I gambled on the method, after all KA is known for great baking, but could not embrace the idea of chocolate in rye bread. No courage... what can I say? The unusual (to me) method involved adding yeast twice, once for each rise. I was skeptical; while it seemed to work just fine, I don't know whether it was essential or not. Plenty of gluten strands had developed by the end of the first rise.

Dividing the dough in half provided 2 small loaves, perfectly sized for my red bread pot. The shaped loaves rested in parchment paper-covered skillets for the second rise.

A few cherries had migrated outside the dough ball and scorched on the bottom of the loaf. Was the oven too hot? Was the rack set too low? These are new issues to investigate.

No problem, we easily polished off half a loaf during a taste-test, trimming off the few offending burnt cherries on th bottom. We nibbled on one slice plain, another slice buttered, the next slice buttered and sprinkled with sea salt (my favorite), and finally buttered and spread with jam. YUM to all 4 bites!

The result: really tasty bread, plain or toasted, with just a hint of lemon and rye. Of course RL, aka Mr. Sweet Tooth, preferred his slathered with butter and cherry preserves. You really can't pass up a double cherry flavor.

Changes? next time I'll add a smidge of sugar to the dough and incorporate the cherries, zest and nuts at the beginning. I will also raise the oven rack one level higher and try baking at 425 instead of 450.

No-Knead Sour Cherry Lemon Rye Bread with Pecans
Adapted from a King Arthur Flour recipe for a chocolate holiday bread.

Place the following ingredients in a large mixing bowl:
3 cups AP flour
1/2 cup light rye flour
1/2 cup dark rye flour
2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon instant yeast
1 1/2 cups cool water (+2-4 TBS as needed for soft dough)

Stir everything together to make a soft, shaggy dough. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Let the dough rest overnight at room temperature, 12 to 16 hours recommended. The dough will expand... slowly.

Add the following:
3/4 cup chopped dried sour cherries (soaked in the juice of 1 lemon, then drained)
zest of 1 large lemon
3/4 cup diced pecans, toasted
1/2 teaspoon instant yeast
  • Knead the fruit, nuts and yeast into the soft dough, working to keep these added ingredients on the inside of the dough. 
  • Use the stretch-and-fold or envelope-folding technique to form the dough into a slightly flattened disk and place it on parchment paper-lined bowl or pan that is roughly the same size as the covered Dutch oven or baking dish you will use in the oven. Poke in any exposed nuts or fruit to prevent scorching when you bake (especially on the bottom!) Cover the dough again with plastic wrap you have coated with cooking spray. 
  • Let the dough rise a second time until it is noticeably expanded, 2 to 6 hours depending on your kitchen's temperature.
  • Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F (425 in my oven) as the dough finishes the second rise. Preheat the Dutch oven and its lid at the same time.
  • When ready to bake, remove the pot and lid from the oven. Quickly take the plastic wrap off of the dough, use the corners of the parchment paper to lift the dough out of its rising container and place it in the preheated pot. Cover and return to a low shelf (but not the bottom shelf) in the 450 F oven (425 in my oven). Bake for 35 minutes. Remove the cover and bake for another 25 minutes until the crust is golden brown and the interior registers 200-205 degrees on an instant-read thermometer. Return to the oven if necessary. Transfer to a baking rack to cool completely. 
"Tempting as it may be, DO NOT slice the bread until it's completely cool! Doing so will make the slides side of the loaf gummy."
The warning above came straight from King Arthur - and who am I to argue with the king?! So we waited, and waited some more, impatiently waited for the bread to cool.

Yield: 1 large boule
I divided the dough in half to accommodate my small Dutch oven and reduced the uncovered baking time by 10 minutes. 


  1. Just imagine how good this bread will be in a bread pudding... a breakfast or brunch treat with a background note of savory rye, a light hint of lemon, and an abundance of cherries and nuts all cuddled in a custard blanket. OMG, that is reason enough to bake an extra loaf!

  2. Made several loaves as hostess gifts this holiday season - instant hits with all recipients.


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