Wednesday, July 29, 2009

BBA Challenge #11: Cranberry-Walnut Celebration Bread


I don't really feel like writing anything even though this bread was one of my favorites so far. Call it "Saturday two weeks after making the bread blues." In any case, this is the eleventh(!) bread in the Bread Baker's Apprentice Challenge.

So we'll just skip to the bread. Here goes nothing.

So, the first thing I do when I make a recipe is convert all of the weight measurements to metric. I know they're in ounces, and my scale can even measure in ounces, but somehow having 255g of something has become second nature to me even though I grew up measuring in ounces. Also, 5,4g tells me how much something weighs, as opposed to 0,19 oz. which means absolutely nothing to me in my brain.

I actually hid the flavor vials in the picture because I was a bit ashamed to not have enough extract for the recipe. I had one of almond extract and one of lemon, though I really really wanted to use orange extract as a foil to the cranberries. I have a recipe for cranberry walnut bread from a book that is nearly a hundred years old, and it uses a bit of orange juice, which makes a huge difference.

Since I seem to be the only participant in the challenge with an Electrolux DLX/N26/AKM4110W, I thought I would show off a bit. Here's the machine mixing about 300mL of liquid at 33% power.

And at 100% power. I never have it on this setting because the bowl spins so fast it is a bit frightening.

Actually, the numbers are a bit misleading because this is the liquid at the lowest setting, which is excellent for mixing, but is certainly not zero. Maybe I'll tape a pice of paper to the bowl and count how many revolutions it makes.

Here's the bread mixture with all the dough ingredients.

Which turns into this, and gets kneaded by the roller and pulled apart by the scraper counteracting the roller.

Normally, I would knead the cranberries into the dough by hand, but in this case I decided to live dangerously.

Did the same with the walnuts, but, because they were drier than the cranberries, they required my attention. I had to move the arm back and forth in order to incorporate them, as they were not cooperating.

The dough fully mixed.

I absolutely love breads with fruits and nuts in them. When I lived in Brooklyn, one of my guilty pleasures was buying parbaked raisin pecan loaves shaped as a batard. Throw in some Chaumes and a nice St. Bernardus Abt 12, and all was golden.

I remembered from the long Challah braids fiasco to follow the instructions to the letter. The strands had to be fatter in the middle and tapered towards the ends.

I sort of got confused about how to braid because I thought I had it down, but when I turned the braided half around, I had no idea and improvised. In any case, I thought they looked awesome.

Cheryl of A Tiger In The Kitchen tweeted that the loaves looked "like an alien with its baby strapped on its back". I totally agree, though the only thing I was thinking when I took this picture was "Oh, this is totally going to topple".

After the egg wash, the loaves looked beautifully glossy. I actually had to re-read the part where Peter Reinhart says NOT to cover the bread for the second rise. It was written so that it didn't seem like a misprint.

I came back about a half hour later and the top loaf was creeping over. I just put some more egg was over the parts which were exposed and let it take its natural form.

The loaf finally fell over completely, and despite my prodding, I could not safely unstick it from the parchment paper and decided to just leave it.

Of course, during this time I was making a loaf of 1050 Bread. Normally I make it with sourdough, but I had to make it for a picnic and had to rush. I replaced half the milk with buttermilk, but thought it tasted a bit odd.

The thing about baking is that it relaxes me, and I can't just make one loaf at a time. I like making two or so. This one above is part of my standard experimentation with 1050 flour, which is the darkest just below whole wheat flour. I once made a boule as above with 1050 flour using the pain a l'ancienne method from the book and it was a raging success at work.

Despite the odd form going into the oven, I was completely taken aback by the finished bread. Meine Gute! This bread looked like some sort of creature that crawled out of the ovens of Yum City.

I loved the complex detail of the dough stretching as the top loaf slowly fell off.

Plus, I used the entire egg wash, so it was particularly shiny.

Even the bottom of the loaf was perfectly browned.

I also loved taking pictures of the bread. Even though it was odd looking, it was gorgeous. All shine and cranberries.

I ripped it open to take a picture of the crumb and promptly ate a big piece.

Actually, if I'm going to be honest, I ate a huge part of this bread myself. Although it was not as drool-worthy as the Casatiello, I have a weakness for Cranberries as well as for fruit and nut breads, so I kept sneaking slices whenever I could. Delicious!

The weekend after this bread I took a break and only made two small loaves of normal bread. I actually thought I had broken the oven, but the English Muffins this weekend proved to me that the oven had snapped back. It seems that all of my kitchen devices have become a bit temperamental since I actually started using them!


  1. My alien is proofing right now and I can't wait to put it in the oven. I made mine with dried tart cherries, pecans, and lemon extract. See you on twitter! ;-)

  2. First of all, your 1050 loaf looks fabulous. And good attempt at braiding the celebration bread. I didn't even attempt the braid, just made a plain boule.

  3. I had the same problem! I was able to kind of center it again before baking it, but it came out lopsided. I will post about it soon.

  4. Hey, I have a DLX too, remember? :) But I haven't posted in a while, so maybe you don't recall.
    Yes, your 1050 bread looks gorgeous, but why is it called 1050?

    I haven't done the cranberry bread yet, but I bet mine will be alienish too.

  5. What a perfect description - creature form Yum loaf turned out tasty but not pretty! On to the next...Happy baking!

  6. Good attempt at braiding and you did better than me!

    I love your mixer. Really need my KA to burn out so I can invest in one.

    Nicely done!

  7. Love your alien loaf. You make me laugh. Crumb and bottom shot look great!!

  8. Alien bread. LOL
    The boule looks perfect! Now I'm tempted to buy a brotform.:)

  9. I would have eaten most of the bread myself too, no need to give confession! :)

    I am going to be so behind on this challenge because my oven has been broken for the last 2 weeks. I suppose I could go to a friends house but I'm secretly welcoming the break!

    Also, just so you know my blog has moved: I'm at now. Hope you'll come and visit!