This Dutch oven bread is an easy no-knead bread that rises overnight and bakes right in the Dutch oven. It’s loaded with cranberries, walnuts and dark chocolate and hints of cinnamon making it perfect for the holidays!
*This post is sponsored by ALDI USA.
Keeping a starter and making homemade sourdough seems to be all the rage these days. I see Instagram story after story of people “feeding” their starters and cutting open freshly baked loaves to show “crumb shots” of the inside.
I’m not gonna lie, there’s a part of me that would love to be the person that bakes sourdough weekly like that.
There’s another part of me though that’s like: “Girl, you got enough going on. You really want to add feeding a semi-alive blob on your kitchen counter to the list too?!”
I’ve been listening to the latter part and haven’t gone down the sourdough path…yet.
This Dutch oven bread is about as close as I’m getting to sourdough right now. With an overnight rise at room temperature, it’s actually sort of similar. It gets all bubbly and fermented looking in those 8-12 hours (man, I’d kill for a 12 hour sleep!) but the result is a really nicely risen bread with the perfect inside crumb (I may be watching too much Great British Baking Show with that sentence).
Why Bake The Bread in a Dutch Oven?
I used the Cast Iron 2-in-1 Pot from ALDI for this Dutch oven bread (more on this pot in a minute!) and the beauty of using a Dutch oven to bake bread in is two-fold:
- You don’t really have to knead or shape the bread. The second rise for this bread happens right in the pot which helps keep that perfect circular loaf shape.
- The bread bakes for 25 minutes with the lid on, essentially trapping the heat and moisture in the pot and almost “steaming” the bread so the inside cooks through. Then, you remove the lid for the last 15 minutes of baking to get that perfectly golden and crispy outside all around the bread. The cast iron absorbs all the heat from the oven and transfers it to the outside of the bread creating the perfect crunchy exterior.
The Crofton Cast Iron 2-in-1 Pot from ALDI (available for $29.99 and in stores 12/5/2018 for a limited time) is not only a great Dutch oven but its top (as shown above) is a grill pan on the other side! It can be used directly on your stove-top for indoor grilling – how great is that?
As we gear up to remodel our kitchen in the spring, I’ve been slowly getting rid of a lot of the excess pots, pans, appliances and gadgets in my kitchen so having a dual-purpose pot like this that eliminates the need for a separate grill pan is a total win in my book. Goodbye, clutter!
Of course, baking bread in a Dutch oven is definitely one of the more “creative” uses for a pot like this. I see many stews, soups and braises in my future in this pot and I love that the 4.6 qt. capacity is the perfect “not too big, not too small” size for those kinds of meals. I’ve actually already got a curry in mind for later this week (something similar to this red curry shrimp actually) not only to use the pot again but more so to get some use out of the super stylish copper handle Crofton utensils (also available 12/5 in your local ALDI store and for just $3.99) shown above as well.
What’s In This Dutch Oven Bread?
I filled this bread chock full of holiday add-ins. There’s chopped walnuts, dried cranberries and dark chocolate in the mix and combined with cinnamon, nutmeg and cardamom (all these ingredients are readily available at your local ALDI store alongside the Crofton Cast Iron 2-in-1 Pot) it really becomes the perfect seasonal loaf. With just a touch of brown sugar in the recipe, it’s not overly sweet but just enough so the dark chocolate doesn’t taste bitter.
Definitely feel free to play around with your add-ins though. If you like pecans better than walnuts, go for it! Substitute another dried fruit (I’m envisioning figs or cherries as great alternatives) if you prefer as well. Chocolate chips would work if you don’t have a block of dark chocolate too. Although I love the addition of the dark chocolate in this Dutch oven bread, if you wanted something more for snacking or breakfast rather than leaning towards the realm of dessert, you could leave it out.
Whatever you decide, a smear of warm butter or some nut butter spread on a toasted slice of this Dutch oven bread definitely won’t disappoint. It’d even make for a great edible holiday gift and if you’re like me (aka: not crafty WHATSOEVER) edible gifts are where it’s at!
More holiday-worthy breads to try this season: