Saturday, November 5, 2011

Adventures in Breadmaking: Cranberry Walnut and French Baguettes

My husband and I have ongoing discussions about bread. He prefers the cheap white stuff while I like whole wheat. We both like the expensive artisan style bread with the crusty outside and chewy middle, but who wants to regularly spend $5 on a loaf of bread? So we decided to make Saturday our bread making day. Every week, we'll each pick a type of bread to try. Stir, knead, rise, bake, and then evaluate the end result.
For our first attempt, Barry picked Cranberry Walnut Bread. We adapted this No-Knead Artisan Style Bread from by taking a reviewer's suggestion of adding dried cranberries and walnuts to the dough instead of the rosemary, thyme and sage.

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon active dry yeast
  • 2 teaspoons salt (I used only 1 tsp. as other reviewers suggested)
  • 1 2/3 cups warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh sage (optional)
1. Combine the flour, yeast, and salt in a large bowl and mix to combine. Add the water and herbs, if using, and mix well. The dough will be very sticky and shaggy-looking. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set aside at room temperature for 18 to 24 hours.
2. Generously flour a work surface. The dough will have risen and will be covered in bubbles. Transfer the dough to the work surface and dust it with flour. Fold the dough in half, and then form the dough into a ball by stretching and tucking the edges of the dough underneath the ball.
3. Liberally flour a kitchen towel (do not use terrycloth). Place the dough ball on the floured towel. Cover with another floured towel. Let the dough rise for about two hours [see footnote].

4. Preheat an oven to 450 degrees F (230 degrees C). Place a lidded Dutch oven or deep heavy duty casserole dish (with lid) into the oven to preheat.
5. Carefully remove the hot baking dish from the oven. Remove the lid and gently turn the dough ball into the ungreased baking dish, seam-side up; shake the dish so the dough is more evenly distributed.

6. Cover and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the lid and bake until the crust is golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove the loaf from the baking dish and let it cool on a rack before slicing.

I chose French Baguettes, also from, adapted to bake in the oven rather than a bread machine.

  • 1 cup water
  • 2 1/2 cups bread flour (We didn't have bread flour, so I used all-purpose)
  • 1 tablespoon white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons bread machine yeast (I used active dry yeast)
  • 1 egg yolk (I skipped this step because I didn't have a pastry brush to brush on the egg yolk)
  • 1 tablespoon water
1. Place 1 cup water, bread flour, sugar, salt and yeast into bread machine pan in the order recommended by manufacturer. Select Dough cycle, and press Start.
2. When the cycle has completed, place dough in a greased bowl, turning to coat all sides. Cover, and let rise in a warm place for about 30 minutes, or until doubled in bulk. Dough is ready if indentation remains when touched.
3. Punch down dough. On a lightly floured surface, roll into a 16x12 inch rectangle. Cut dough in half, creating two 8x12 inch rectangles. Roll up each half of dough tightly, beginning at 12 inch side, pounding out any air bubbles as you go. Roll gently back and forth to taper end. Place 3 inches apart on a greased cookie sheet. Make deep diagonal slashes across loaves every 2 inches, or make one lengthwise slash on each loaf. Cover, and let rise in a warm place for 30 to 40
minutes, or until doubled in bulk.
4. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Mix egg yolk with 1 tablespoon water; brush over tops of loaves.

5. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes in the preheated oven, or until golden brown.

Non bread machine directions:
Combine water, sugar and yeast to proof. Add salt, then flour and knead until no longer sticky. Place in bowl and rise 30 minutes. Follow recipes directions above to the end.

We liked the flavor of both of these breads, although we expected them to rise more. The Cranberry Walnut Bread was chewy in the middle and crunchy on the outside. The baguettes were miniature, and unfortunately we only ended up eating one out of two baguettes. The second one we didn't get around to using right away, and it became hard as a rock.

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