No-knead cranberry walnut skillet bread is perfect for serving alongside soup, turning into croutons or serving with your cheeseboard. Post sponsored by Cully & Sully.
The past six weeks have been probably the busiest of my life – and certainly the busiest blog-wise. I have been a freelancer for the past ten years and I am used to the ups and downs of working for yourself. It’s typically either feast – you can’t possibly take on any more projects – or famine.
And as someone who has weathered a period of inactivity – 4-5 months back in 2014 – I realised that I prefer to keep as busy as possible, both to safeguard my income and because it’s directly connected to my sense of self-worth. I was never more down than when I had no work to keep my overactive brain busy.
But keeping hugely busy does come with a price: the busier I am, the less I take care of myself. I exist of endless cups of coffee, I frequently skip breakfast and lunch, I cut down on sleep and push myself a bit too far in order to keep up with all the work.
I don’t need to tell you that this is, obviously, NOT A GOOD THING. And once the crazy busy time comes to end, I have resolved to make some changes and make ‘me time’ top of my to-do list, even if I hate the expression. In the meantime, I am really glad to have discovered Cully & Sully soups. I wasn’t all that familiar with the brand before embarking on this collaboration, but they are the most popular soup in Ireland where they hail from.
Cully & Sully make the most delicious velvety soups from the best ingredients – my favourites are their vegetable soup which I could eat every day and the smoked haddock and salmon chowder. I am very, very particular about ready-meals but the C&S soups have won me over completely.
Not only are they incredibly convenient to have on stand by when life gets hectic, they are perfectly seasoned, unlike most commercial soups which tend to be either extremely heavy-handed with the salt or incredibly bland.
You could easily pass them as homemade, especially if you add a few personal touches and garnishes. My favourite way to pimp up soups so that they are as pleasing to the eyes as they are to eat, is to add fresh herbs, toasted seeds, grated or crumbled cheese and a generous topping of croutons.
But the best thing to serve alongside soup is, of course, homemade bread. Now, I know what you are going to say. How can you possibly find time to bake homemade bread, when you can’t even make your own soup?
Enter miraculous, fuss-free, no-knead bread. If you are not familiar, no-knead bread is basically the best thing ever. It requires very little work, it is endlessly customisable and it tastes amazing. Make a large loaf on the weekend and it will keep you in toast and croutons for at least a week.
The basic ingredients for bread are flour, water, yeast and salt. In the no-fuss knead-free version you mix all of these together with a spoon and then leave them to work their magic.
Once the mixture rises, over 1-2 hours, you then shape the loaf, transfer it to a skillet or a cast iron pot and leave to rise once more. Bake in a preheated oven for 30-40 minutes and voila! freshly baked homemade bread which requires maybe 10 minutes hands-on time.
You can add anything you like to the base four ingredients – cheese, nuts, dried fruit, seeds, chopped herbs… Anything goes! I customised my no-knead bread with walnuts and cranberries which are my favourite festive combo. I also added Greek honey and fresh rosemary and thyme and would have added some blue cheese too if I had thought of it sooner 😉
The resulting no-knead cranberry walnut skillet bread was incredibly delicious and perfect for turning into soup croutons, serving toasted and buttered, or with cheese. Plus you can look all smug when you announce to everyone that you baked the bread with your own two hands…
This bread was also a chance to use my amazing Staub skillet which I am totally in love with. It’s great for cooking on the stove and then transferring into the oven and hugely versatile.
- 570g | 4½ cups strong bread flour
- 1 packet dry active yeast (7g or 2 tsp)
- 500ml | 2 cups lukewarm water
- 1 tbsp runny honey (or agave syrup)
- ½ tbsp salt
- 100g | 3½ oz chopped walnuts
- 100g | 3½ oz dried cranberries
- 1 tbsp chopped rosemary
- 1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
- a little olive oil to drizzle and for the skillet
- a little semolina for the skillet
- a little sea salt to sprinkle loaf with
- Mix the flour, and yeast together in a large bowl.
- Combine the water, honey and salt in a measuring jug and then add to the flour.
- Mix together with a wooden spoon until you have a sticky dough.
- Mix in the chopped walnuts, cranberries and herbs.
- Cover the bowl with a clean tea towel or cling film and leave to rise for 1-2 hours, or until almost doubled in size.
- Oil the bottom and sides a 26cm (10in) skillet with olive oil. Dust the base with a little semolina.
- Dust your worktop with flour. Tip the dough on it and sprinkle with a little flour - it will be sticky.
- Use a pastry scraper to fold the edges over towards the centre.
- Transfer the loaf into the skillet and leave to rise for 30-40 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 200C (400F). Slice the top of your loaf using a sharp knife. Sprinkle with a little sea salt and olive oil.
- Bake for 30-40 minutes until well risen and golden. Tap the base - it's ready when you get a hollow sound.
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