Wednesday Baking: Cranberry Pecan Bread

We are having sandwiches for dinner tonight. Not just a regular old sandwich, though. This will be the Cheddar and Ham Sandwich from Tom Colicchio’s book, ‘wichcraft. If you love sandwiches, and like to try new and interesting (and delicious!) sandwiches, I recommend the book.

Anyway, this one calls for cranberry pecan bread. Now, when I hear that sort of combination in a bread, I immediately think sweet. But then I thought that with the ham and cheese, maybe savory? The recipe doesn’t really say. So, I did some digging on the good old Internet and found several recipes for cranberry nut yeast breads. I adapted this one from King Arthur flour. The recipe says the bread benefits from an overnight ferment in the refrigerator, so I am delaying posting this until the bread is baked this morning.

Notes: If you look up the recipe, you will see I changed a few things. For one, I substituted some of my sourdough starter for about a third of the liquid. I did end up needing to add just a bit more water- maybe a couple tablespoons. It is a sticky dough, so some bench flour may be needed when giving it those last few by hand kneads. I added the diastatic malt powder to help get a good browned crust, and the vital wheat gluten because the recipe recommends high gluten flour. After shaping, I proofed my loaf in my oblong banneton lined with parchment. I slid the loaf still on the parchment onto the baking stone to bake. Mine took about 40 minutes in my oven, but I did turn the temperature down to 350 after about 35 minutes, and covered the loaf with foil to prevent it from overbrowning. It is a pretty dense loaf, and if I were going to make it for sandwiches again, I think I would cut the whole wheat flour by about a third, and add in that much more white flour. 

Cranberry Pecan Yeast Bread

390 grams bread flour
113 grams whole wheat flour
2 grams diastatic malt powder (optional)
18 grams vital wheat gluten (optional)
9 grams salt
2 grams yeast
1/2 cup sourdough starter (if you have it)
260 grams warm water (or 390 grams if not using sourdough)
90 grams dried cranberries
113 grams toasted and chopped pecans

Mix the flours, malt powder, vital wheat gluten, yeast and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer. Add the sourdough starter and water, and mix on low speed until all of the flour is moistened. Add the cranberries and pecans. Mix to combine. You may need to add a bit more flour to get all the nuts and fruit to mix in. Turn off the mixer and let the dough rest, covering the mixer with a kitchen towel, for ten minutes. After the rest, knead the dough on low medium (4 on my KitchenAid) for 8 minutes. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured board (it will be a bit sticky) and knead by hand about ten turns. Pull the dough into a round ball and put it in your lightly greased rising container. Cover lightly and let rest in refrigerator overnight. In the morning, turn the dough out, and shape into a round or oblong loaf. Let it rise for about an hour to an hour and a half. It’s not a huge riser. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. and put a baking stone in to preheat. After the dough has risen, use a sharp knife or lame to slash it down the center. Bake in the preheated oven for 40-50 minutes, or until it is deep brown and an instant read thermometer inserted in the center reads 205 degrees F. Your baking time may vary. Take the loaf out of the oven and cool on a rack.

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It baked up nicely if a little on the dense side. The flavor is good with just hint of sweetness from the cranberries, and good toasted nut flavor. A success, I think!

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