Sunday, February 01, 2009

Breadbaking Inspiration

The green whisk is a birthday gift from Natasha and it is wonderful! The handle is weighted and shaped for easy whisking. With lots of starters to feed, it has already been hard at work. Thanks!

Sometimes a baker needs inspiration. Other bloggers are so generous with ideas and tips. If you are interested in baking with yeast, or even using yeasted already made breads in other recipes, a place to bookmark and check every week is Susan of Wild Yeast’s Yeastspotting event. Each week showcases many, many recipes to tempt you, especially if you have sourdough starter sitting in your fridge urging you subliminally to bake bread.

One recipe I found there from 12/19/08 was from Jude who writes a great blog called Apple Pie, Patis, Pate'.The bread recipe, from Peter Reinhart’s The Bread Bakers’ Apprentice, was for a braided loaf with milk, butter and eggs making a rich dough and with dried cranberries and chopped walnuts loaded into the dough.

I used 3 tablespoons of freshly grated orange zest instead of extract. When it’s citrus season you can’t beat the flavor and fragrance of fresh zest! The orange goes so well with cranberries and adds a freshness that is unbeatable. I actually used only a little more than a cup of the dried cranberries. It seemed like enough. If you want to add more in, it will be even better.

Also, I used my Polly sourdough starter plus an extra ¼ teaspoon of active dry yeast rehydrated in 2 tablespoons warm water, instead of the yeast called for. With the load of dried fruit and nuts in this bread, I wanted to help the sourdough with the ‘heavy lifting’ with the addition of fresh yeast.

This made a superior fruit and nut bread, with a thin, crisp crust and nice moist interior. I tried it plain…good, toasted plain…better, toasted with cream cheese…even better, and toasted with butter…the best!

Sweetie thinks it would also be good with turkey for sandwiches. Since I added some sanding sugar on top when I glazed it with the egg wash, I’m not so sure that savory will work. Make some and see what you think!

Cranberry-Walnut Bread
from the Apple Pie, Patis, Pate' blog
makes one braided loaf, the shaped bread will fit on a half-sheet pan

Dough Ingredients:

3 cups bread flour
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
3 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast (or 1 cup sourdough starter)
3 tablespoons orange zest
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup whole milk, at room temp
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup water, room temp
1 1/2 cups dried cranberries
3/4 cups walnuts coarsely chopped

1 whisked egg, for the egg wash

Stir the flour, sugar, salt, and yeast together. Add the orange zest, eggs, whole milk, butter, and water.
Mix until a shaggy ball of dough is formed.

Knead 5 to 6 minutes

Rest 5 minutes

Knead Add the cranberries and knead gently for 2 to 3 minutes.

Add the walnuts.

Gently fold the dough over itself until the cranberries and walnuts are evenly incorporated.

Bulk Ferment 2 hours at room temperature

Shape three-braid (as shown), boule, or batard.

Egg Wash Glaze with about half of the egg wash. Refrigerate the rest of the egg wash for a second coating after the final proof.

Preheat Oven 325ºF / 165ºC

Final Proof 60 to 90 minutes at room temperature while uncovered, or until almost doubled in size

Egg Wash Glaze with the rest of the egg wash

Bake Bake for 50 to 55 minutes at 325ºF / 165ºC, rotating the loaf halfway through baking if necessary. The center of the loaf will register 185ºF / 85ºC to 190ºF / 88ºC when done.

Cool At least 1 hour

This is going to Susan for this week's Yeastspotting. Be sure to check it out!


  1. Having a real snap of cold weather again, and bread is raising reeeeeallllly slowly. This one would be one well worth waiting for, however. Yum!

  2. Anonymous6:49 PM

    I'm so glad you like YeastSpotting, because it's such a pleasure for me too! This is a beautiful beautiful loaf that looks like it plays beautifully toasted.

  3. Anonymous12:12 PM

    This looks incredible - I will have to make this in my new oven!

  4. Anonymous10:46 PM

    Looks nice and I like how you finished it off with sanding sugar. I'm gonna have to try this again with cream cheese :)

  5. Inspiration indeed. Gorgeous.
    You seem to add extra where I do ;)
    Such toast and cream cheese!!

  6. Oh I love bread that is stuffed with fruit and nuts. This looks like a good breakfast treat.

  7. Tadmack, know the feeling. I read at Wild Yeast (I think) that putting a pan of boiling water in the bottom of the oven, then the dough to proof over that works. Will try next time it's chilly.

    Susan, YeastSpotting is for a bread baker like a candy store is for a kid...pure enjoyment and anticipation both.

    Madam Chow, Ooooh a new oven...even better than a new sink. Do try it. It is the best I've made so far.

    Jude & Tanna, It surely was good with cream cheese :)

    Peabody, It's perfect for breakfast.