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Cranberry Walnut Yeast Bread

If you read my last post, you know I’ve been a madwoman in the kitchen this week, baking bread nonstop!  I don’t know what’s come over me… some sort of weird pregnancy mania?  Kidding, I don’t think it’s that at all, I think it’s just excitement over the fact that I have finally cracked the code for making perfect bread at home and now I just can’t stop myself. :)  Heck, why would I want to??  Oh yeah, carbs and all that.

Anyway, today I’m sharing with you my recipe for Cranberry Walnut Yeast Bread… which is soooo addictive toasted and slathered with butter, I almost feel like I need to tell you “Don’t make it!”  But do.  Seriously, do.

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Cranberry Walnut Bread - Easy to make at home, so healthy, and sooooo delicious!

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At the risk of sounding redundant, I’ll repeat my definition of “perfect bread” from my last post.

Perfect yeast bread is satiny smooth and “open” in texture (meaning lots of holes), and has a crackly (but not too hard to bite through) crust.

And for the life of me I could never figure out why I couldn’t achieve that “open” texture I crave… that Panera-esque quality I had all but given up on.  Thank goodness for my father-in-law and the thoughtful gift he gave me this Christmas!  The book Cookwise was exactly what I needed.  Basically it’s an Alton Brown episode on steroids, explaining the science behind every cooking method and combination of ingredients, so that you can adjust what you’re doing to achieve the results you want.

For me, it has unlocked the secrets to making perfect bread at home… and ever since then I’ve been a goner.  So have Chris and Elsa.  We are bread fanatics!

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So I’m sharing a few of those secrets with you in today’s two posts.  (First time I’ve published a double-feature in a long time!)  The first recipe was forFluffy Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread (find that recipe here), which is a simple, healthy, and heavenly bread that we love for toast, sandwiches, and soup.  And second is this Cranberry Walnut Yeast Bread, which honestly, I have eaten for every meal since I made it.  Oops!  I love breads like this… just chock-full of fruit and nuts… and I’ve been known to pay $8+ dollars for a similar loaf at our local Old Mill Bread Co, but not anymore!!!

This recipe makes two small loafs or one large round one, but I personally made about 6 this week.  Two to eat immediately, two to give away, and two to freeze for next week!  Yummmm.

The method for this cranberry bread varies just slightly from the original whole wheat recipe, in that before shaping it into loafs, you flatten it a bit and sprinkle on some cinnamon and a touch of sugar for a mildly sweet “swirl” throughout the bread.

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Cranberry Walnut Bread - Make it at home! So healthy and soooo delicious!

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Then it gets rolled up, slashed, and left to rise just like the regular wheat recipe.

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Cranberry Walnut Bread - Make it at home! So healthy and soooo delicious!

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Make perfect yeast bread at home- It's healthier, cheaper, and a heckuvah lot better-tasting!

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I can’t wait to hear how you like it. :)

Happy Baking!

-Carissa

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Cranberry Walnut Yeast Bread
 
Prep Time:
Cook Time:
Total Time:
 
This bread is slightly sweet and very silky and open in texture. It is best served toasted and spread with butter.
Author:
Ingredients:
  • 1⅛ C. warm buttermilk (or regular milk mixed with 1 tsp. lemon juice)
  • 1 Tbsp. canola oil
  • 3 Tbsp. brown sugar
  • 1¼ tsp. active dry yeast
  • 2½ C. bread flour (divided)
  • ¼ C. whole wheat flour
  • 1 Tbsp. ground flax seed
  • ½ Tbsp. salt
  • 1 C. dried cranberries
  • ½ C. walnuts, roughly chopped
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 2 Tbsp. white sugar
  • cornmeal, for sprinkling
Directions:
  1. In a heavy-duty stand mixer (such as a KitchenAid), combine the warm buttermilk, oil, and brown sugar. Sprinkle the yeast over the surface of the liquid and allow it to sit for 2 minutes, until it becomes slightly foamy.
  2. Add in half the flour (1¼ C bread flour and roughly ⅛ C. whole wheat flour.) Using the paddle attachment, beat the flour into the liquid at medium/low speed (about level 4) for 2 minutes to incorporate air.
  3. Allow this mixture (called the "sponge") to sit for up to 2½ hrs. This extended fermentation produces better flavor and texture in the finished loaf.
  4. After the sponge has sat, add in the remaining flour, the salt, and the ground flax seed. Trade out the paddle attachment of the stand mixer for the dough hook, and use it to knead the dough at a medium/low speed (about level 4) for exactly 5 minutes. During the last 20-30 seconds of the kneading process, add in the cranberries and walnuts and allow the mixer to slowly fold them into the dough, until just incorporated.
  5. Allow the kneaded dough to rise in the mixing bowl for about 2 hours. (Spray the surface of the dough with oil, or cover the bowl with a damp cloth to prevent drying.)
  6. When the dough has risen, transfer it to a clean countertop that has been lightly moistened with water or cooking spray. Lightly moisten your hands as well. You can divide the dough in half for two standard-sized loafs, or keep it whole for one large round loaf. Gently stretch each lump of dough into a thick rectangle.
  7. Sprinkle the surface of each rectangle lightly with cinnamon and white sugar, then loosely roll the rectangle into a loaf shape.
  8. Allow the loaves to rest for 5-10 minutes while you prepare the baking pans and preheat the oven. Sprinkle a baking sheet (or two standard loaf pans) generously with fine cornmeal. Place a baking stone in the bottom rack of your oven, and place the other oven rack above it. Preheat the oven to 400-degrees.
  9. Transfer dough to prepared pans. Lightly dust the top with cornmeal too, if desired. Then slash each loaf down the middle with a sharp knife (about ½ inch deep.) This allows for better rising. Allow the dough to rise one final time in the pans, for 45 mins to an hour.
  10. When the oven is preheated to 400 and dough has risen, turn the oven temperature down to 375. Place the dough pans into the oven on the rack above the baking stone. Bake for 33-35 minutes.
  11. After baking, remove the bread pans and immediately turn bread out onto a cooling rack to prevent steam from making crust soggy.
  12. Allow bread to mostly cool before cutting. (Cutting too soon could smash the bread.)
  13. Once cool, store in an airtight ziplock back to maintain freshness.
  14. Enjoy!

 

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Note: This post contains affiliate links.  See my disclosure here.

 

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