Thursday, March 17, 2011

BBA Cranberry Pecan Bread

Links to my fellow baker's in the Bread Baker's Apprentice Challenge, 2011!  Here are links to their versions of this bread.  They are all very talented baker's, who have gotten together to share their results from baking the Bread's in Peter Reinhart's book Bread Baker's Apprentice.

Our host Chris at A Ku Indeed!
Coz at ScratchBaker
NancyB at Bread&Cake&More
Adam at Within Reason
Jim at OvenMinded

I of course start by planning ahead, which means sitting on my bum and reading the instructions all the way through. Help is always appreciated, but sometimes I get a little to much help. In this instance, Smoky decided he would help me read the BBA recipe which for some reason wore him out and required him to take a 20 minute nap on the book which I was holding up. Now normally, with any of the other cats, I would simply move around alot and they would go find a place to lay that didn't move so much. Smoky though simply gave me a dirty look each time, groaned loudly, and re-adjusted himself for more zzz's. Don't tell anyone, but I finally had to kick him off and send him packing, much to his disgust.

On to the making of my version of the Bread Baker's Apprentice Cranberry Walnut bread. I looked over the recipe, and realized immediately that I would have to change a few ingredients. To me walnuts are rather evil, causing stomach aches and just making a person feel horrible. Not to long ago someone suggested using pecans instead, and I tried that with the raisin bread with pretty good results. I love cranberries and decided even though they make my mouth raw, it would be worth it to try it this time. Actually, I love most fruits, but seem to have a bad reaction to them and while I still eat some usually it is in a small amount and rather quickly so they don't sit in my mouth.  It's funny how your body seems to have cravings for things that you probably shouldn't eat. I decided that the dried fruit and nuts could soak in the water overnight (I soak dry fruit so that is doesn't burn and turn hard when baked).  I set up two soakers. The other one had about 50% of the recipes flour (fresh ground winter white wheat) and kefir (similar to the buttermilk that was called for). The other 50% bread flour I saved for the next day.  I have the picture of the berries and nuts, but for some reason I seem to have either deleted or misplaced some of my pictures.  Life goes on....

The next day I combined all the ingredients, including the flour/kefir soaker and leaving out the cranberry/nut one. The cranberries had soaked up all but a tablespoon of the water, so I included that in the dough. Edit:  I drained the liquid from the cranberries into the dough while kneading the dough, and the adjustments I made to the dough was simply adding enough liquid to make it a slighty firm dough, so that when I added the cranberries which were moist, it would not become to wet.  I also put the cranberries onto paper towels to help dry them out a bit.  I had to add some water to the dough to make it the right consistency, kneading it with my kitchenaid for 6 minutes. I then added the fruit/nut mix, which added a little bit of moisture to the whole thing and kneaded it for another 2 minutes. I pulled out my King Arthur Silicone Rolling Mat and put extra flour on it, and put the dough into the middle, then folded it a couple times.  This created a boule shape, or round ball.  Just a note, if you don't have a good place to knead and shape your bread, the King Arthur rolling mat is really awesome.  I love it and pull it out for every loaf I make, even if it's just to shape it into a log for a single loaf.

I let it rest a few minutes, and then shaped it into a log.

Since I used the baker's percentages that Reinhart provided in his book, I was able to adjust the recipe to make a single 2 lb loaf of bread that fit perfectly into my bread pan. I know that I was supposed to braid this loaf, but while surfing on SomethingShiny's website I found a wonderful idea. The very first picture on the site was of this bread, with turkey and cheese stuffed inside. I decided right then that mine was going to be a sandwich loaf, since this would probably not be made again till Thanksgiving.  My mouth started to drool, because cranberry sauce and turkey on a sandwich are really good together.  My husband says I'm nuts, because cranberry sauce does NOT belong on a sandwich, but I just don't agree and since I am ALWAYs right.....

I used part of the egg from the recipe to do an egg wash on the crust, and it came out really nice. I took 8 pictures of just the crust, it was shiny and such a nice shade of brown. Just beautiful, tender when eaten, with a beautiful color and shine which made it hard to cut into. It was just to pretty!

I realized that I would have to cut it open, so I could see what the crumb looked like. It was just such a perfect loaf that I really didn't want to, except for the thought of taking a bite of it!

I took this picture of the crumb inside, and didn't look till later and realized it really didn't show how wonderful the crumb was.

The next morning I cut the loaf into slices and froze half of it, then took a few slices and used natural lighting to see if it would help show the crumb. The crumb was darker than normal, but I think that was because of the liquid from the cranberry soaker.  It's great tasting bread!

I will be making this again, probably for Thanksgiving. It has great taste, texture, and the crust is wonderful too. Definitely a holiday bread.


  1. Joanne, what a great idea to make a sandwich loaf!Braided loaves don't make good sandwich type slices.And anything a person likes the flavor of belongs in the sandwich!I had mde hot n spicy pickled stringbeans last year,and are great rolled in with other fillings on flat bread!
    I have not made this recipe as yet and will take your advice and soak the cranberries overnight.Other breads I have made call for an overnight soak also.Sometimes in some brandy!
    The photos make one want to do the bread NOW!They look soo delicious!looking back at the recipes,wondering if it would have been better to group them according to time of year best made,rather than in order.Seems a bit strange making 'Holidy Breads' now.

  2. I am excited to see that we will be working on some regular breads soon. I prefer pretty lean breads, so really am looking forward to it.

    Pickled stringbeans sound really good right now, although I love anything that is pickled. I broke into my pickled eggs the other day. Nummy, that was a nice treat!

    I think it was probably the publisher that chose to simply put them in alphabetic order. I've thought many times that Peter Reinhart should put together a baking order list, just for this challenge. I would like to see it in order of difficulty to make, skill needed.

  3. Hi Joanne,

    That looks amazingly delicious. Great job! You inspired me to try making my loaf with pecans and 1/2 whole wheat flour instead of plain bread flour.

    Oh, and while I suspect you may not *always* be right, anyone who doesn't think cranberry sauce can kick a sandwich up a notch is INSANE. It's totally yummy on sourdough with some brie cheese and greens. (And while I don't eat meat, I'm still always envious of people who can make a smoked turkey, cranberry sauce, and stuffing sandwich. Yum!)

  4. Joanne, Your bread looks so good and I LOVE your idea of doing the loaf. It would be a perfect loaf to make a turkey sandwich with leftover Thankgsiving turkey!! I think your kitty is cute also :)

  5. I also love the loaf idea! This is an awesome bread to have with turkey. I make mine into mini-braids using a single rope braid technique that is so ridiculously easy...check it out here:

  6. Thanks for the wonderful comments! This is so much fun, seeing what you all do gives me so many great ideas! Off to check out Frieda's rope braid technique....