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Cranberry Pecan Yeast Bread

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Cranberry Yeast Bread

Cranberry Yeast Bread

Diana Rattray

 This tasty cranberry pecan bread starts with a simple sponge to get the yeast going. The bread is brimming with flavor and texture from the dried cranberries, pecans, and grated orange zest. The sponge should ferment for at least 2 hours, so plan to start this bread early in the morning or let it ferment for a few hours then refrigerate overnight. 

I used a stand mixer to make this bread, but you can also mix and knead by hand.

Prep Time: 25 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Sponge: 3 hours

Total Time: 3 hours, 55 minutes

Yield: Makes Two 1 1/2-Pound Loaves

Ingredients:

  • Sponge
  • 1 cup (8 ounces) water, lukewarm (about 90°)
  • 1/2 teaspoon instant yeast
  • 1 1/2 cups bread flour, about 7 ounces
  • Dough
  • 1 cup (8 ounces) water, lukewarm (about 90°)
  • 3 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 4 cups bread flour, 18 ounces
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • finely grated zest of 1 orange, about 1 tablespoon
  • 3/4 cup coarsely chopped pecans

Preparation:

 

In a mixing bowl or the bowl of your stand mixer, whisk together 1 cup of lukewarm water, 1/2 teaspoon of instant yeast, and 1 1/2 cups of bread flour. Mix until smooth. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature for 2 to 4 hours. It will be active and bubbly. At the 4 hour point, if not making the bread right away, refrigerate the sponge. Let the sponge come back to room temperature (or close to it) before continuing.

With the paddle attachment of the stand mixer or with a wooden spoon, mix into the sponge 1 cup lukewarm water, 3 teaspoons instant yeast, 2 tablespoons of sugar, and 2 cups of the bread flour. Beat until smooth. Stir in the salt, cranberries, orange zest, and chopped pecans. Change to the dough hook if using a stand mixer. Add the remaining flour and knead with machine or on a floured surface by hand for about 10 to 12 minutes, until the dough is elastic.

Oil a large bowl with Canola or other flavorless vegetable oil.

With floured hands, gather the dough up into a ball and place in the oiled bowl. Turn to coat the dough ball with oil. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and let it rise for about 90 minutes in a warm, draft-free place. 

Meanwhile, line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper and sprinkle with cornmeal.

Gently remove the dough to a lightly floured surface and cut in half. Each portion will weigh roughly 1 1/2 pounds. Working gently to keep from losing bubbles, shape each ball of dough into a tightly formed round loaf. Place on the prepared pans, seam-side down. Cover with clean, light towels and let them rise in a warm draft-free place for about 1 to 1 1/2 hours. 

Place a baking dish on the oven floor; add about 1/2 inch of hot water to the baking dish. Heat the oven to 400° F.

With a very sharp knife, carefully cut shallow slits across the loaves. Don't press too hard or you will lose a bit of the rise.
Bake for about 30 minutes, until deep golden brown and the loaf sounds hollow when rapped. 

Cool thoroughly on racks before storing. Store in food storage bags or wrap and freeze.

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