No machine sewing for me today or yesterday. That's not to say I haven't done any sewing. I managed to get the hanging sleeve sewn on the Snow Birds quilt. Tomorrow I'll sew the label onto it and it will be ready for its debut in the Stitches in Bloom Quilt Show next month.

When I went to bed last night, I had quite a little agenda for myself this morning; but something about awakening at 3:00 a.m. and not being able to go back to sleep meant that the day's agenda was truncated. I finally decided to get up at 5:00, and then slept a couple more hours after Mike left for work. That's the second time in a week that's happened, so I'm not sure what's causing it. I'm suspicious it is lack of daylight since our daylight hours are now limited to approximately 9 hours. Here's the sunrise/sunset times for Portland during the past week.

I don't know how this compares with other parts of the country, but the days are seeming pretty darned short to me. The weather has turned quite cold too. When I left the house around 1:30 this afternoon, the temperature was a chilly 34°F. It's supposed to stay cold throughout the rest of the week.

Smitty knows how to stay warm. Flannel quilts and accompanying laps are his favorites.

Also, he's not opposed to getting under the covers with me at night and snuggling up close. The purring can be deafening.

But it was okay that I got up early because it gave me a chance to check up on my the Crusty Cranberry Walnut Bread dough I left on the counter to rise overnight. I found this recipe on Witty in the City where she has posted a nice little tutorial. And let me tell you...this stuff is dee-licious. I had to get more bread flour and walnuts today because I just know I'm going to be making a LOT of this stuff in the next month or so. 

If you've been wanting to try baking bread, but found the whole kneading process too intimidating, this is the bread for you. It was the simplest bread I've ever made, and I'm including banana bread in that list. It required a large bowl and the mixing utensils that God gave you (i.e., your two hands). Best of all, there is absolutely no sugar. It is a rustic bread and gets all of its sweetness from the cranberries and walnuts. Isn't it pretty?

This is the image I took when it was hot from the oven. As in "Witty's" tutorial, I could hear the crust cracking as it cooled. 

I'm a big fan of crusty breads, but I haven't had a lot of success getting that nice bakery-style crust. This bread bakes in a Dutch oven (or whatever heavy lidded pot you might have), and the results were the best I've ever achieved. And when I cut it open? Oh my...

Just bea-utiful! And tasty. Total hands-on time for this dough was no more than 15 minutes. It took about 15 hours to make it because it rises on your counter overnight. I was a little concerned that our cool temperatures during the night would mean that the yeast wouldn't activate enough to rise. But when I got up this morning (at 5:00 a.m.), it had risen beautifully. Then I just plopped it out of the bowl onto a well-floured surface and formed it into a ball in the way "Witty" describes in her tutorial. Then it took about another hour and a half for its second rise and it was ready to bake.

The Dutch oven is preheated along with the oven and when the dough plops into the hot Dutch oven, it sizzles ever so slightly. Then you lid it and bake it and voila! Beautiful bread as good as you would find in any bakery. I ended up baking mine an extra 10 minutes with the lid off, as the recipe recommends. I wanted it a little more brown that when I first laid eyes on it, and it is perfect! I'm so excited about this recipe.

This no-knead recipe is the brainchild of Jim Lahey who has written a book entitled, My Bread, where he describes his method. I was so excited about this recipe that I ended up purchasing the book.

Now I'm excited to try some of the other recipes in the book, including his Olive Bread (which I love), and his Irish Brown Soda Bread. With Christmas on the way, I highly recommend this book for your personal Christmas list. Lots of good recipes for breads, rolls, pizza doughs and other delights. And this method works for even the most timid of bread bakers. Would I lie?

Witty didn't give a printed recipe beyond her tutorial, so I'm giving you one right here:

Crusty Cranberry Walnut Bread

1 Cup Walnut Halves -- toasted
3 Cups Bread Flour
1/2 Cup Dried Cranberries
1 1/4 Teaspoons Table Salt
1 Teaspoon Yeast
3/4 Teaspoon Cinnamon
1 1/2 Cups Slightly Warmed Water

Toast 1 cup walnut halves in the oven until lightly browned and fragrant. (I do mine in the toaster oven.)

To a large bowl, add bread flour, the walnuts, dried cranberries, salt, yeast and cinnamon. Mix ingredients until evenly distributed, then add water. The dough should come together into a very sticky mass. Leave it in the bowl covered with plastic wrap and set aside on the counter to rise overnight. 

The next morning (12-18 hours later) the dough should have risen a lot. Generously flour counter and hands, then scrape the dough out of the bowl in one piece. Using your hands, shape the dough into a ball by stretching the edges of the dough and tucking them toward the center of the ball. Sprinkle a generous amount of flour over a kitchen towel and place the dough in the center. Drape the corners of the towel over the dough, and then set it aside to rise for another hour or two.

When the dough has almost doubled in size, place a Dutch oven with a lid inside the oven. Preheat the oven and the pot to 475°F. When the oven reaches that temperature, remove the Dutch oven from the oven and use the towel to flip the dough into the pot.

Cover the pot and return it to the oven for 30 minutes. After that time, remove the lid from the pot. If the bread is toasty and golden brown, it is done. If not, continue baking the bread without the lid for another 10-30 minutes until it reaches the toasty and golden brown stage. 

Using a spatula and a kitchen towel, lift the bread out of the pot and set it on a rack to cool.

We'll be having this with our dinner tonight. I'm stuffing portabello mushrooms with a combination of leftover stuffing from our Thanksgiving turkey and some leftover sweet potatoes. I think a slice of bread and some leftover cranberries will make a nice little dinner for us on this cold almost-winter night.

Despite the lack of restful sleep, it turned out to be a pretty good day. Tomorrow I have physical therapy, but after that, I am hitting the sewing machine. 

Stay warm and sew on!

19 comments from clever and witty friends:

Vroomans' Quilts said...

I absolutely LOVE homemade bread - gosh that looks good.

Junebug613 said...

Sorry you aren't sleeping well lately. Thankfully, I don't have that problem. I agree, even in Florida, it seems the days are much much shorter, albeit warmer than where you are! That bread does look inviting.

gpc said...

I tested bread recipes for a bread book once and have made a ton of no-knead breads, but this one looks fantastic -- I can't wait to try it! Of COURSE Smitty would like that quilt -- it's got his footprints all over it..

Sheila said...

I have those kind of nights also. I have yet to figure out why, but thought it was my age, or that I had too much dark chocolate after dinner (caffeine). The bread recipe sounds and looks delicious. I have never heard of that technique for baking bread.

Margaret said...

Makes me hungry looking at that delicious bread

Cathy said...

Your daylight hours looked a lot similar to ours. So, I decided to do a bit of research on this wonderful internet tool, and discovered that, even though I live in Canada, which is supposed to be north of the United States, you are actually farther north than we are! We're in Southern Ontario. But I do agree, the daylight hours being so short, do nasty things to sleep habits and body clock issues.

Cath said...

That bread looks wonderful. I will have to save the recipe for when it gets a little cooler in my part of the world. I hope your sleep pattern corrects itself. That happened to me a few weeks ago but I know mine was a combination of too much coffee, things on my mind and too hot to sleep.

Brown Family said...

That looks yummy!

Celtic Thistle said...

Can almost smell that bread from here Barbara, it looks delicious!

Dar said...

I love crusty breads too. Also like cranberries, nuts and cinnamon, so this is going on my list to make for later this week. Thanks - the timing is perfect!!

Quiltsmiles said...

Know what you mean about the lack of daylight living here on the 45 parallel.
Enjoy your pics with the yummy recipes besides all the progress on your projects. Thanks Jane

Diane Wild said...

I have to try this although I won't be able to eat it all by my ownself. Think about this in terms of daylight: In approximately 2 more weeks the days will be getting longer. And don't fret about waking up at 3am. Everyone does it.

sophie said...

That bread looks SO good. The Linky topic on the Block Lotto this month is Food–I'd love it if you shared a link and join the party here.

quiltzyx said...

Hmmm, I think I'll have to put that book on my wish list...along with a Dutch oven pot! I could almost smell the bread from here...

Frog Quilter said...

Do you have to use a Dutch oven? It looks yummy!

Emilly said...

A great way to get a really nice crust on your breads is to add steam as uou put the bread in the oven (a spray bottle works well) and to go onto a hot surface a pizza stone is best if you've got one. Your Dutch oven is doing both its preheated and the lid traps moisture and steam to get a crunchy crust

Mary said...

Yummy freash baked bread! I've gotta try this recipe. did the towel go in the oven with the bread. I'm wodering about the method of flipping it into the dutch oven. wouldn't that put the dough upsidedown?

Cathy said...

We've been making a bread recipe like this for over a year and just love it. We add our own ingredients to it to change it up. It never fails.

It makes really good grilled tomato, basil cheese sandwiches as well as yummy french toast with some homemade berry syrup on it.

I've not tried this combination but just told my DH to get the cranberries and walnuts for our next batch of bread!

Kate said...

Looks very tasty!