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. All content and opinions are my own.
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.
Update! 2020 was finally the year I tackled sourdough! I love a good sourdough boule but have so far stuck to other people’s recipes for that.
I have, however, created these sourdough pancakes from the discard that I absolutely LOVE.
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 my Cast Iron 2-in-1 Pot from ALDI but you could use any for this Dutch pot you have.
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.
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.
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 (shown above).
What’s In This Dutch Oven Bread?
I filled this bread chock full of holiday add-ins.
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 (love a good fig bread) or cherries as great alternatives.
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:
Dark Chocolate Cranberry Walnut Dutch Oven Bread
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup white whole wheat flour
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon fast rising yeast
- 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
- 1 3/4 cup warm water
- 3/4 cup chopped walnuts
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries
- 3 ounces dark chocolate chopped
- Combine the flours, salt, brown sugar, yeast and spices in a large bowl.
- Add the warm water, walnuts, cranberries and chocolate and stir together with a spatula until all the ingredients are just combined and incorporated.
- With floured hands, form the mixture into a rough ball of dough in the bowl.
- Cover with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature overnight or for at least 8 hours.
- Turn the risen dough out onto a piece of parchment paper.
- Re-form into a nicely shaped circular loaf and place the dough with the parchment paper into the Cast Iron 2-in-1 Pot (or 5 qt. Dutch oven).
- With a sharp serrated knife, score the top of the dough a few times in any pattern you’d like.
- Cover the dough once more with plastic wrap and let rise another 1-2 hours.
- During the last 15 minutes of rising time, preheat oven to 450°F.
- Remove plastic wrap and place the top of the Cast Iron 2-in-1 Pot on top to seal. Place the entire pot in the oven and bake for 25 minutes covered.
- Remove the lid after 25 minutes and bake uncovered for another 15 minutes until golden brown on top.
- Remove the pot from oven and transfer the bread by picking up the sides of the parchment paper to a cooling rack to cool completely before slicing.
This website provides approximate nutrition information for convenience and as a courtesy only. Nutrition information can vary for a variety of reasons. For the most precise nutritional data use your preferred nutrition calculator based on the actual ingredients you used in the recipe.
Gina Matsoukas is the writer, founder, photographer and recipe developer of Running to the Kitchen — a food website focused on providing healthy, wholesome recipes using fresh and seasonal ingredients as much as possible. Her work has been featured in numerous media outlets both digital and print, including MSN, Huffington post, Buzzfeed, Women’s Health and Food Network.