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Mar 3, 2013

No-Knead Chocolate-Cherry Pecan Bread | ABC

No-Knead Chocolate-Cherry Pecan Bread

This month, the Avid Bakers Challenge (ABC) is King Arthur Flour's No-Knead Chocolate-Cherry Pecan Bread.

No-Knead Chocolate-Cherry Pecan Bread Karens Kitchen Stories

No Knead bread is a wonderful thing. Mix up some flour, salt, a teeny bit of yeast, water, and maybe some add ins, let it sit at room temperature for at least 12 hours, and you have this amazing dough that makes an airy flavorful bread with a thin crispy crust that literally sings when you take it out of the oven.

No-Knead Chocolate-Cherry Pecan Bread Karens Kitchen Stories
 Second rise, seam side up. The dough eventually filled the bowl. 

I usually make it in a cast iron Dutch oven Combo Cooker but the KAF blog by PJ Hamel (love, love, love her... I'm a big fan) warned against doing this because the bottom would burn, so I rigged up my baking stone and an upside down metal bowl. The reason for baking the bread in an enclosed environment is to create steam and simulate a brick oven.

No-Knead Chocolate-Cherry Pecan Bread Karens Kitchen Stories
A self-portrait of me and a panoramic view of our kitchen. 

The bottom of the bread still charred, maybe because of all of the chocolate and cherries? Next time around, I will start the bread on the pizza stone to get that great blast of heat and oven spring, but once I uncover the loaf after 20 minutes, I'll add an oven rack and place the loaf on a baking sheet to finish baking.

Here's the deal. The dough is quite slack and wants to spread out like a pancake. The hot stone and cover seem to help the dough push upwards and become a taller loaf. I could try using a hot baking sheet with the bowl and compare results. Bread experiments. Just thinking out loud.

Verdict? I love this bread, charred bottom and all (I just have to give it a little "shave"). This bread does require some attention. I had a hard time keeping all of the add-ins inside the dough and half way through baking, I had to pick off burned cherries that had wormed their way out of the bread and were sticking out like the popping out eyes of one of those squeeze toys. One of the ABC Bakers describes it as whack-a-mole. I think that is appropriate.

No-Knead Chocolate-Cherry Pecan Bread Karens Kitchen Stories
See the spots where I had to pick off burnt cherries?

No Knead Chocolate Cherry Pecan Bread


6.75 ounces bread flour 
6 ounces unbleached all purpose flour
2 ounces rye flour, any type 
2 ounces whole wheat flour
2 1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp instant yeast
14 ounces water
3 1/4 ounces dried cherries
3 ounces chocolate chips (I used chocolate chunks because they were just beginning to bloom, and I didn't want to have to throw them away)
6 ounces of diced pecans, toasted (toast for about 6 to 8 minutes in a 350 degree F oven)


  •  Mix the flour, salt, and yeast in a large bowl. Spray the top of the dough with spray oil and cover with plastic wrap. Let the dough sit at room temperature overnight (I did a stretch and fold before I went to bed). The dough should have grown quite a bit by morning and be very bubbly. Mine quadrupled. 
  • Lightly flour a work surface and scrape the dough out onto it. Using a wet dough scraper and wet hands (have a bowl of water nearby for dipping), stretch and pat the dough out into a large square.
  • Spread the pecans, cherries, and chocolate chunks over the dough, and stretch and fold the dough over the add-ins. Make sure they are fully incorporated. 
  • Spray a banneton or proofing basket with spray oil and sprinkle with flour (I used brown rice flour). 
  • Form the dough into a ball and place it, seam side up, into the banneton. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to proof for 90 minutes to 5 hours, until puffy. Mine took 90 minutes in a my makeshift warm environment
  • Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F with a pizza stone on the lower third of the oven and an inverted large metal bowl on top of the stone. (You could also use just a sheet pan or a cake pan on top of a sheet pan with a bowl over the dough.) 
  • When the dough is ready, spray a sheet of parchment with spray oil, place it over the dough. place a pizza peel over the parchment, and flip the whole contraption over.
  • Move the dough and parchment onto the pizza stone, spray the dough with water, and cover it with the heated bowl immediately.
  • Bake, covered, for 20 minutes. 
  • Removed the bowl and move the loaf to a sheet pan. Add an oven rack just above the pizza stone and place the sheet with the loaf on that rack.
  • Bake for another 20 minutes, until the loaf reaches an internal temperature of about 205 degrees F. 
  • Place the loaf on a rack and cool completely. Seriously. Leave it alone! You don't want gummy bread. 
  • Enjoy!

To see other ABC versions of this recipe, visit the Avid Bakers Challenge page.

Note: Most of the flour I used for this bread is King Arthur Flour. It's a personal choice and King Arthur Flour has not asked me to promote their products. I'm just a big fan.

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  1. Lovely loaf, Karen!
    I'm looking forward to making it, starting this evening. Dough with a higher hydration is always a bit of a challenge, but long overnight fermentation makes it taste so much better, and you need much less commercial yeast.

  2. Gorgeous! Despite potential burned cherries, I like the rustic look of having stuff on the outside of the loaf.

  3. Your loaf is beautiful! The shape is wonderful. I am baking mine in what I think is technically a casserole dish that I covered with foil so who knows what will come of it. Thank you for sharing your pictures and experience with us.

  4. It came out beautiful, Karen! Good idea on moving the bread to a cookie sheet after ~20 min on the pizza stone. A few spots on the bottom of my loaf were a bit too dark for my taste.

  5. (I just wrote a comment and lost it - hope this doesn't post twice!)
    Karen, your bread is lovely - great head-on closeup shot of the slice. And thanks for your kind words about the recipe and KA (and me!). The first time I baked this loaf, the bottom was a full 1/4" thick of pure black char - no shaving possible! the next time, I baked the bread in a round cake pan set atop a baking sheet, providing double insulation. If you wanted to freeform it, you could simply nest two baking sheets. I find that the bread's crust is so good anyway, it really doesn't need the baking stone to improve it. As for whack-a-mole - I try to keep as much as possible WAY inside as I shape the bread. Whatever is sticking out partway through the final rise, I poke back inside. And, like you, I still have to pull off a few burned cherries or nuts at the end... Worth the effort, though. Breakfast toast? Ahhh..... Thanks again. PJH

    1. Thanks PJ! I am honored to hear from you! All great tips. At one point I actually had the contents contained but I over stretched it to create a "skin" and pop, pop, pop, out came the cherries and pecans. =) I will definitely do the cake pan on top of the baking sheet trick next time. This bread is amazing.

  6. Lovely bread! I ended up not using the cover on my bread and as PJ said, I just pushed in what I thougth necessary and the rest...I could handle :-)

  7. Your bread bakes up beautifully! This is one awesome bread, looks like a winner for everyone!


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