Our local food store has a pretty decent bakery and I find myself wandering by that section every time I am there. I usually don’t buy anything (I really really try to stick to my grocery list) but there have been a few times when I impulsively by a seasonal loaf of bread. They are always in pretty bags and of course grab my attention as soon as I see the words “limited edition.” I’m a complete sucker for anything festive.
For the last few weeks, they have featured cranberry walnut bread. I of course broke down and bought one and we really enjoyed it. But since it was considered seasonal, it was a little pricey for one loaf of bread. So I decided to try recreating it at home.
First, let’s just get it out of the way that this homemade version puts the store-bought one to shame. And that one from the bakery was excellent. But this one. Oh my. It’s a good thing that this recipe yields two loaves, since we blow through it pretty quickly. I’ve made this bread twice in the last two and a half weeks and have plans to make another batch before our family arrives for Thanksgiving.
Like any homemade bread, this does take a few hours. But the majority is down time. So you can relax, read a book or if you’re like me, bake cookies. Priorities people.
This bread has the perfect base – sturdy yet still soft. It is filled with just the right amount of walnuts and cranberries, giving it a little texture and just a tad bit of sweetness. It’s great warm straight from the oven, as toast for breakfast or as the base of a sandwich. Particularly with Thanksgiving leftovers, but more on that later.
- 1 ½ cups warm water (105 to 115 degrees)
- 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
- 6 cups all-purpose flour, divided
- ½ cup honey
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 1 ½ teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 cup dried cranberries
- 1 cup chopped walnuts
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, add the warm water and then sprinkle in the yeast. Next add in ½ cup of the flour, mix briefly to combine and then let the mixture sit for 10 minutes to proof the yeast.
- Add in the honey, olive oil, salt and cinnamon. Mix on low speed briefly to combine. Add in the remaining 5 ½ cups flour, about one cup at a time, and mix on low speed until the dough is a shaggy mass. Switch to the dough hook. Knead on low speed for about 3 to 5 minutes, until the dough is soft and elastic, adding more flour if needed. (You can also knead the dough by hand. This amount of dough was pushing the capacity of my mixer, but it still worked fine that way).
- Shape the dough into a ball and place in a large lightly oiled bowl. Turn once to coat and then cover with plastic wrap. Allow the dough to rise until it has doubled in bulk, about 1 ½ hours.
- Lightly spray a large baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray and sprinkle with cornmeal.
- Gently deflate the dough and then transfer it to a lightly floured surface. Knead in the cranberries and walnuts by hand. Split the dough into two equal sized pieces and form each into a ball that is about 5 to 6 inches in diameter. Place both pieces on the preparing baking sheet. Cover with a damp towel(s) and let rise for another 30 to 45 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Sprinkle the tops of the loaves with additional all-purpose flour. Using a sharp serrated knife, cut a cross in the top of each loaf that is about 1-inch deep.
- Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, until the loaves are golden brown and sound hollow when thumped on the bottom. If you have an instant-read thermometer, the internal temperature should be 190 degrees. Transfer the loaves to a wire rack to cool before slicing.
Adapted from King Arthur Flour.