Crusty No-Knead Artisan Bread


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I’ve been testing some no-knead crusty Artisan bread recipes that cook in a Dutch oven and this is one of my favorites.  It’s sooooo simple! Other one’s I’ve tried had the dough too loose to easily drop into the Dutch oven or used too much salt to my liking. The worst one I tried was a seeded whole wheat loaf that was so disgusting I couldn’t swallow the piece I bit off and threw the whole loaf out.  A good bread is about both taste and texture.

Whole wheat needs to be treated differently than the method in this recipe.  The bread becomes really dense and the crust is kind of gummy chewy to me–not crispy chewy. With whole wheat I feel you should add a sweetener and also knead it a bit to wake up the gluten.

This Artisan bread recipe uses all-purpose flour. It has been tested 6 times and each time it has a great crunchy crust and just enough chew in the soft dough part (crumb) –just the way I like it. I usually let it sit about 9 hours before baking it. The longer you leave it out the harder it is to shape.

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Have you ever  wondered what temperature is lukewarm? I go by the following:

Tepid = 75-80F

Lukewarm = 90 – 100F

Warm = 115-125F

Proofing the yeast I use 100F, but if the yeast is mixed into the dry ingredients then I use 120F water. Yeast will die around 130-140F.

70F–80 F Is recommended water temperature for bread machines.

I know—just call me geeky girl!

You’ll probably find variations of these temperatures on the net but the differences are around 5 degrees. These work for me. The one I wouldn’t take a chance on is the temperature that yeast dies at. I’ve seen it fluctuate 5 degrees higher but why take a chance?

My kitchen is the coolest room in the house so during the winter I let my bread dough rise in  my office which is the warmest place. I’ve heard some people place their dough bowl on a heating pad on low, I just move the dough to another room. You might have to play around with this yourself because room temperatures play an important part as well as humidity when you’re baking bread.

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Apparently the oven can’t cook the bread fast enough when everyone’s home.To say my family loves bread would be a vast understatement!

Growing up there were plenty of little independent bakeries and delis around so I’m spoiled! Being from a large cosmopolitan concrete city I had my choice of many small bakeries to buy bread from–Italian, Portuguese, Greek, and Scottish to mention a few. Mmm Italian crusty bread, delectable Portuguese rolls, soft Greek pita bread and warm Scottish baps. Sheeesh I think I just slipped into a euphoric bread based coma and gained 5 pounds reminiscing about it. UGH! I miss those independent bakeries but baking my own bread helps to ease my pain.

If you’re like me and you love to feel how the bread dough changes texture and smells when you knead it to that perfect point then you will miss that when you make this loaf. There is a reward however, when you bake it in the cast-iron Dutch oven it gets a perfect crust and nice little bit of chew.

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The cast iron-pot methods are based on an old European technique of baking inside a closed clay pot (Cloche).  I don’t have a Cloche and quite frankly I’d be afraid of it breaking and me crying. I use my 5 quart black cast-iron Dutch oven and I have great results with it.  I haven’t used my enamel one for bread baking yet but as long the enamel can withstand the 450F temperature it should produce the same results. A black or enameled cast-iron pot with a lid can easily be purchased for about $35-40 if you don’t already have one.   Cast-iron Dutch Ovens trap all of the internal moisture in the dough and that creates the steam which gives you that lovely crisp and shiny crust with a little bit of chew.

You need your Dutch oven to be really hot when you put the bread dough in it so I heated the pot part of the Dutch oven at 450F for at least 30 minutes. The first time I made this bread I cut parchment paper the size of the bottom of the Dutch oven and that’s what I placed the dough on to rest while the pot was heating.  Then I picked the paper and dough up and plopped it in.  That worked well.  Then I got lazy and now I just pick up the dough and drop it — gently of course.

Let your bread cool completely before cutting as it’s still cooking and with all the moisture of the dough inside the crust needs to dry a little. You’ll enjoy this bread because it has lots of air pockets to catch the butter as it melts or the olive oil when it’s brushed on before grilling or broiling it.

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I think the next one I’m going to let the dough sit in the fridge for a couple of days to develop a rich maltier flavor. Then I’ll take it out, shape it and let it rise for a couple of hours before cooking it in the Dutch oven. Having it age in the fridge will tighten the gluten and make it easier to shape.

Let me know how your bread turned out.


Crusty No-Knead Artisan Bread

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 43 minutes

Total Time: 48 minutes

Yield: 1 loaf


  • 3 cups all-purpose flour (I use King Arthur Flour)
  • 1 1/2 -2 teaspoons of sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon active dry yeast
  • 1 1/2 cups lukewarm water (120F)


  • In a large bowl, stir together the flour, salt and yeast. Stir in the lukewarm water using a wooden spoon. Stir it just until it forms a shaggy dough but is still cohesive. The less you "work" the dough the more soft air pockets with form. Do not over-work the dough!
  • Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and let the dough sit a room temperature between 8-24 hours. Dough will soften, bubble and rise.
  • When your dough is ready, preheat your oven to 450F degrees. Place your Dutch oven , uncovered, into your preheated oven for a minimum of 30 minutes.
  • While you're waiting for your Dutch oven to preheat, turn your dough onto a well-floured surface. The dough is pretty sticky at this point so make sure your hands are well floured. Fold dough over and pinch to seal then turn it seam side down. Gently shape it into a ball or cylinder. Cover with plastic wrap and let it rest until your Dutch oven is heated.
  • After 30 minutes, carefully remove your Dutch oven. It will be hot enough to burn it's impression on wood (speaking from experience.) Flour your hands and place your bread dough into it. (I've used parchment paper on the bottom, but I don't think it's really necessary)
  • Replace your cover and bake for 30 minutes covered at 450F. Then remove your lid and bake for an additional 7-15 minutes uncovered. Remember every oven is different. Mine gives me a nice caramel color crust at 13 minutes. At 7 mins mine is too light blond for me.
  • Once done the bread removes easily, but be careful with the cast iron because it's really hot! Let the bread completely cool because it's still cooking. When you cut it slice it with a bread knife.


Make sure your Dutch oven can be heated to 450F especially if it's enameled. And make sure the knob on the lid can be baked at that high heat. I use a black cast-iron 5 quart (the one that's in the picture) and no problems. The lid has a cast-iron handle.

I can not stress enough that your Dutch oven needs to be heated well before you put the dough in.

I've tried letting the dough rise for 24 hours and the loaf turns out well. The differences are the dough is more sticky and a bit harder to shape. Plus the loaf is wider and flatter.

Since I was adding the lukewarm water to a flour mixture I used 120F water.

You do not need to grease the bottom of the pot. When the Dutch oven gets that hot it immediately cooks the bottom of the loaf so you could actually move the loaf around to center it in the pot. I've used parchment on the bottom and that works well.

Personally, I do not recommend using whole wheat flour in this recipe.The bread will be really dense and the crumb is off-putting.

If you want to add herbs, spices, seeds, nuts and cheese then I suggest you add them into your initial flour-yeast mix to avoid over-working the dough.

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Brown Butter Pecan Almond Maple Trail Mix Granola

I love granola and could eat it by the handful! It’s hard to stop shoveling it into my mouth.

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And this brown butter pecan, almond, maple granola is da bomb!

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It’s not overly sweet but it’s chocked full of flavors. Bits are crunchy and some are chewy with old fashion oats, dried cranberries, dried blueberries, pecans, cashews, pumpkin seeds (pepitas), brown butter, organic almond butter, organic maple syrup, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, vanilla and local organic honey. Now that’s a mouthful–literally. I had a hard time staying away from the chocolate chips, but you could drop those in when your store it or as you use it.

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It’s crunch-a-licious! And so much better for you than the store bought varieties.  I never was one for all those sugary cereals but a big bowl of oatmeal with raisins and tons of cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, ginger and brown sugar or honey— Mmmm. This is just the more easily transported gourmet version of that for me. It’s on my list of comfort foods!  Wholesome, healthy, chock full of good nutrition and so simple to make. It’s a great kid’s snack too!

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Sometimes I don’t add the dried fruit until after it’s cooled down and I’m ready to store it. This time I baked the dried fruits into the granola . It all depends on the mood I’m in. Baking them in provides an extra chewiness to the fruit I think and I love that. It’s good either way.  The honey I use to add some extra sweetness and extra anti-oxidants. I drizzle it over the granola just before I put the pan in the oven.

As you know, all ovens cook differently and mine bakes this up in 30 minutes max for one large pan. Be careful you don’t burn it and adjust the cooking time to your oven.

Brown Butter Pecan Almond Maple Trail Mix Granola

Prep Time: 12 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 40 minutes

Yield: 1 quart

Brown Butter Pecan Almond Maple Trail Mix Granola


  • 3 cups old fashioned oatmeal (do not use instant)
  • 1 cup of raw pecans
  • 1 cups of cashews ( I used salted for the salt and sweet flavor)
  • 1 cup pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 cup dried blueberries
  • 3 table tablespoons of butter
  • 1/2 cups real maple syrup ( I used organic)
  • 2 tablespoons of organic virgin coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup of organic almond butter
  • 4 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 4 or 5 tablespoons local organic honey


  • Preheat oven to 325 F.
  • In a large bowl combine the oats, pecans, cashews, pumpkin seed, cranberries and blueberries. Toss well.
  • In a small bowl pour the maple syrup, coconut oil and almond butter.
  • Use a skillet or small sauce pan to melt the butter over a medium heat until just browned. The butter will melt, foam then froth, and start browning at the bottom. Be careful not to burn the butter . Whisk all the browned bits off the bottom of the pan, Once the butter is browned quickly remove from heat and slowly stir the hot butter into the maple syrup, coconut oil and almond butter. Stir until blended. Add the cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, salt and vanilla then stir to blend.
  • Pour the warm mixture over the dry oat mixture a little at a time and stir to fully coat all the dry ingredients. Making sure all the ingredients are coated usually takes about 4-5 minutes of stirring. Make sure you mix in all the ingredients at the bottom of the bowl.
  • Spread the granola mixture evenly onto a parchment lined baking sheet or use a Silpat baking mat if you have one.
  • Drizzle the honey over it and bake for 30 minutes more or less depending on your oven. You will need to check periodically so that it doesn't burn. I like clusters so I break up my granola after it's cooled but you could stir it around every 20 mins. or so for a crunchier and less clustered version.
  • Let cool completely and store in an airtight container. (I use a large 1/2 gallon mason jar and I bought the screw-on white plastic lids)
  • First thing I did was top my bowl of Greek Yogurt and Kefir with this yummy stuff. ENJOY!

Fun and Festive Christmas Baking Labels

It’s that time of year when aromas  of cinnamon, sugar, pumpkin, and cranberries waft through the air bringing back pleasant memories of Christmases past. There’s cookie exchanges, ugly sweater parties and just-drop-by gatherings where a special baked goody is given as a hostess gift or to your own guests.  Adding a personalized label makes that home-baked gift even more special.

Make your homemade baked good gift even sweeter with lovely elegant or fun and festive custom Christmas baking labels.

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Just click the link to your favorite label and it will take you to where you can customize it and make your purchase. Golden Damask Baking Label  | Golden Snowflake Baking Label | Gold Filigree Baking Label | Christmas Cookies Baking Label | Santa Baking Label

Every year I like to try a few new Christmas baking recipes and here are a few you might like to try too:

1. Triple Chocolate Truffle Cheesecake Cookies  OMG!  Decadent!

2. Pasta Frolla Christmas Jam Cookies Who can resist an Italian cookie?  Not me!

3. Chocolate Sugar Cookies Plus secrets to make your cookies hold their shapes when baked.

4.  Soft Baked White Chocolate Chip Cranberry cookies On my list to try A.S.A.P.

5.  Brownie Bites with Ferrero Rocher Tops Bite sized chocolaty goodness

What are your family Christmas baking traditions?


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