Sunday, October 24, 2010

Cranberry-Walnut Celebration Bread

I was really disappointed in this bread. It took almost 80 minutes to cook all the way through, I think that it was too thick and the oven may not have been high enough. Regardless it was dry and hard, almost like biscotti, but HUGE. The flavor was great though. I really like the orange and cranberry. I think I will try it again, but only do a single braid instead of a double braid as instructed in the book.

3 C unbleached bread flour
3 T granulated sugar
3/4 tsp salt
3 /2 tsp instant yeast
1 1/2 T orange or lemon extract
2 LG eggs
1/2 C buttermilk or any kind of milk at room temp
2 T butter, melted
1/4 - 1/2 C water, room temp
1 1/2 C dried sweetened cranberries
3/4 C coarsely chopped walnuts (or pecans)

1. Stir together dry ingredients. Add all of the wet ingredients except for the water. Slowly add just enough water to make a soft, pliable ball of dough. Sprinkle flour on the counter and turn out the dough to knead. Knead for about 5 minutes until the dough is smooth and tacky but not sticky. Add th dried cranberries and knead for 2 minutes until evenly distributed, then gently knead in the nuts. Lightly oil a large bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl, rolling it to coat with oil. Cover and ferment at room temperature for 2 hours or until the dough doubles in size.

2. Transfer the dough tot he counter and divide into 6 pieces, 3 pieces of 10 ounces each and 3 pieces of 4 ounces each. Roll out the larger pieces into ropes about 9 inches long and the smaller pieces to about 6 inches long. Make each rope thicker in the middle and slightly tapered towards the end. Braid like challah bread and place the small braid on top of the large braid. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet and brush with an egg wash (1 egg, whisked until frothy). Reserve the rest of the egg wash to use before baking. Proof uncovered at room temperature for about 90 minutes or until the dough nearly doubles in size. Brush the loaf a second time with remaining egg wash. Preheat oven to 325 with rack in the middle.

3. Bake for about 25 minutes, rotate the pan and bake for an additional 25 minutes or until the loaf is deep golden brown, feels very firm and sounds hollow when thumped on the bottom. The internal temp should register between 185 and 190. Remove from the pan and transfer to a cooling rack. Cool for about an hour before slicing and serving.

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