Bread-making Attempt #1: Jim Lahey’s No-Knead Bread

I love bread but it can be hard to find what I consider ‘normal’ white bread overseas. Of course, Europe isn’t generally a problem. France is heaven. Germany’s bread is a seed and nut-crusted wonder. There are also deliciously addictive flat breads in Afghanistan, mouth-watering French baguettes in Zambia and a close second in Cambodia. That said, the bread selection in other parts of the world can be less than par. Barbados had really dense coconut bread and heavy salt breads, Botswana was a lost cause as far as white bread goes, South Korea’s bread was loaded with sugar, Thailand… well, I’m sure there was bread in Thailand but I never saw any. Heck, even back home it’s about 30 minutes to an hour’s drive to the nearest French bakery.

While I love to cook, I’m no baker. In fact, I’m a terrible baker. The most I can manage without a full-on stress attack are muffins, zucchini or banana bread. In recent years, with the addition of an old bread-maker passed down from my mother, I tried my hand at Irish soda bread. It was edible and I got to control the ingredients but it wasn’t anything I’d write home about.

While I love learning about other cultures and cuisines, sometimes you need some familiar comfort food to help get you through the day. So out of desperation, I eventually bought a 2nd bread-maker with 220 V. / 50 Hz to use overseas.

Unsatisfying attempts at bread-making with the machine led me to discover several no-knead bread recipes. I’ve been looking forward to trying one of the many recipes available online. Unfortunately, there was one little thing stopping me… I didn’t have a Dutch/French oven – that is until today!

Naturally, I started with Jim Lahey’s no-knead bread recipe made famous by Mark Bittman of the New York Times way back in 2006.  I’d heard this recipe was so easy that even a 6 year old could make it. Sounds like the perfect recipe for me! Nevertheless, I don’t exactly have the “baker’s touch” so I followed the recipe exactly using my new 5 1/2 QT Le Creuset Dutch oven.

No-Knead Bread Jim Lahey’s Recipe, The New York Times, 2006

This recipe was VERY sticky and took a LOT of patience. From start to finish, this bread took almost 24 hours. The end result was way better than anything that’s come out of my bread-maker. That said, I found it to be very heavy and chewy. The bread was really crusty but I found it a bit too hard. Sadly, it only got harder as we approached dinner time a few hours later so I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone with delicate dental work!

I’ll be playing around with other no-knead bread recipes over the coming month. If you have any to share, please add them in the comment section.

What do you think? Have you tried making no-knead bread?
I’d love to hear from you! Please comment below.
Speedy No-Knead Bread Revisited – Jim Lahey’s Recipe, The New York Times, 2008

Walnut Liqueur (Nocino) Recipe

Walnut Schnapps Nocino

Walnut Liqueur (Nocino)  just in time for Christmas!

Walnut Liqueur (Nocino) Recipe

While visiting a friend in Gols last summer, he showed me the walnut liqueur he was making and described the process he used. Walnut liqueur is a traditional Italian liqueur called nocino. While I’d never tasted it before, I was keen to give it a try. Making nocino takes time and patience but it’s a pretty easy process to follow if you get the timing right.

Traditionally, green walnuts are harvested on St. Jean Baptiste day (June 24th). We were a bit late picking our green walnuts but I figure summer hits Austria a bit later than it does in southern Italy so it wasn’t much of a problem. Our recipe is by no means traditional, in fact it was a bit of a hit or miss experiment. That being said, we will definitely be making more this summer as it was a big hit.

After bottling, we let our nocino mature for about 6 months. The flavours had mellowed beautifully and with hints of cinnamon and cloves, nocino makes for delightful Christmas spirits!


  • 21 green walnuts quartered and then halved (try to pick them on June 24th),
  • 1 liter alcohol (we used 38% grain alcohol but you can use Everclear or vodka in a pinch),
  • 2 cinnamon sticks,
  • 9 whole cloves,
  • 3 cardamom pods,
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg,
  • 1 vanilla pod split lengthwise,
  • zest of one lemon,
  • simple syrup (2 cups sugar, 1 cup water).


1. Add the walnuts, lemon zest, cinnamon sticks and vanilla to your glass container. Top the ingredients with grain alcohol. We used a heritage hill style jar with rubber gaskets for a better seal.

2. Cover and let sit in the sunshine for about about 6 weeks.  Every day or two, give the nocino a good circular sloshing or stir. The nocino will begin to darken turning a dark amber colour. After a few days, the nocino will become almost black.

3. After 6 weeks, it’s time to make the sweetener. We chose to use a simple syrup made of 2 parts sugar and 1 part water. Just boil the water and pour it over the sugar, stir gently until the sugar is fully dissolved and let cool at room temperature. Once fully cooled, store in the fridge until ready to use. It’s important to let the simple syrup cool completely before putting it in the fridge. Otherwise, if it cools too fast, the syrup might develop crystals.

4. Strain the nocino to remove the nuts and spices. Continue to strain the nocino with a fine mesh sieve to clear the liquid of any sediment. You might have to let the nocino sit for a few hours or overnight for the sediment to settle before straining again. You can try using a coffee filter to remove fine particles.

5. After removing the sediment, it’s time to add the sweetener to the nocino. Let the nocino sit in a cool dark place for another 6 weeks.

6. After 6 weeks, bottle the nocino and store in a cool dark place for at least 6 months allowing enough time for the flavours to develop.

7. By Christmas, the nocino should be ready to drink but the longer you age it, the better it should taste.