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BBA #11: Cranberry Walnut Boules

August 16, 2009

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Oh, BBA Challenge. I seem to have lost a little steam on you over the summer (the recent stretch of 90 degree weather we’ve been having hasn’t helped in the motivation department — all I want to do is leave the oven off and make ice cream and eat fresh fruit.) But that can’t last forever, and in the meantime, I’ll just be getting these posts up as close to my regular schedule as I’d originally planned. Give or take a day, or two, or three or four.

So the latest bread for me in the Challenge was a Cranberry Walnut Celebration Bread, which Peter Reinhart describes as the perfect accompaniment to a Thanksgiving dinner. Ahem. This could also be why I was a little less-than-motivated to make this bread…I’m not nearly in Thanksgiving-dinner-mode yet. But as I read through the recipe, I realized that it had flavors I knew I’d love, and it would be fairly easy to whip out in a day over the weekend (particularly if I just used my electric stand mixer to do the heavy-kneading for me.) The bread is a simple yeast dough, punctuated throughout with walnuts and cranberries, and flavored with orange extract (though I omitted this last ingredient as I don’t keep orange extract around the house, and I had no oranges to substitute zest instead.) No matter — the resulting bread was absolutely delicious, and perfect for toasting with some butter.

To start, I mixed together flour, sugar, salt and yeast in the bowl of my mixer, and added eggs, buttermilk, and melted butter.

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I kneaded this, adding a little water, until it came together in a soft ball.

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I switched to the dough hook and kneaded the dough until it became tacky and pliable.

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Now it was time to knead in the dried cranberries and chopped walnuts; using the electric mixer really came in handy for this step (I’ve found in the past it’s kind of a pain to hand-knead in this amount of dried fruit and nuts.)

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Wow! That’s a lot of cranberries and walnuts. So now the dough gets settled into a lightly oiled bowl for it’s first rise:

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And after it’s risen, Reinhart instructs us to shape it into a double-braid, as I did for the Challah. Maybe it’s because I wasn’t in the mood for a Thanksgiving celebration that day, or maybe because I know a huge double-braid would be a lot of bread for just the two of us — so instead I decided to shape three individual boules. This way I could freeze the extras and take them out when I wanted to eat them.

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I let them proof for about 90 minutes, which in retrospect was a bit too long – I think I let them overproof and they didn’t rise quite as much as I would have liked in the oven.

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They did look beautiful, though; the egg wash over the crust gave a nice burnished look.

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The crumb was light, the taste was slightly sweet and a little tangy from the buttermilk and cranberries, and it sliced beautifully. We devoured the first boule between the two of us, and I’m looking forward to having the others alongside some tea, or served with a roast chicken. Yummy!

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Previous BBA Bread: Cornbread

Next up: English Muffins! I’m excited about this one – I love these types of DIY food projects.🙂

4 Comments leave one →
  1. August 16, 2009 11:35 am

    I’m glad you suddenly got motivated, otherwise we wouldn’t have been witness to this beautiful treat!🙂

  2. August 16, 2009 5:32 pm

    This looks so delicious! What a beautiful post🙂

  3. August 17, 2009 11:34 am

    This looks wonderful! I love cranberries in baked goods. I bet it’s delicious toasted.

  4. August 29, 2009 1:14 pm

    Do you think the boules would have risen more in the oven if you had slashed them?

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