BBA #11: Cranberry-Walnut Celebration Bread

March 18th, 2011 by Chris

Truth be told, although I was out of town for a few days and so couldn’t get this done on time, I just wasn’t looking forward to this bread. Maybe partly I’m with Adam on this one – how many more timesare we going to put nuts and fruits in bread? I understand that lots of people like those kinds of bread. It’s just not something I tend to bang the table with my shoe about. Add to that the fact that I don’t really like cranberries, and I’m not much of a walnut fan, and you’ve got a lackluster challenge in store for me with this bread.

It smells good, though! Luckily, my wife is a fan of cranberries and walnuts, so she was ready to attack this loaf as it emerged from the oven like a ravenous animal perched above its prey, just waiting to pounce on its unsuspecting soon-to-be lunch. If you remember my cornbread disaster story from last week, this is all to the good. After that skillet-debacle, the more she is kept happy, the better and more balanced the universe seems to be. 

(As always, as BBA’ers stream in, such as Adam, Nancy, Coz, Jim and Joanne, I’ll link to their products here).

Since I’m late this week, and since I was particularly underwhelmed by this challenge, I’ll keep this post short. 




Cranberry-Walnut Bread is novice level for someone who is green to baking. All in all, this is a version of what I’m starting to think of as a “bread with X”.Basically, it’s a pretty standard bread dough recipe (with the exception of the eggs, sugar and lemon juice included). It’s just the addition of the cranberries and the walnuts that changes things up.

It does take a little experience to figure how to get all those fruits and nuts to incorporate inside the dough, but a little extra water to soften things up usually helps in that regard.


Comments on the Process

Cranberry-Walnut Bread has one step - (a) mix/bake. Er…that’s it.

Step One – Mix/Bake

Very simple. No soaker, no biga, no poolish. No nada. All you do is add the ingredients, slap them cranberries and the walnuts into the dough, mix em’ up, and let is rise for a few hours. After that, shape it (note that it won’t stretch much due to the ingredients), and slap some egg wash on it. Let it sit again, and bake it up. Easy.
Okay, I cheated. You’re supposed to braid this one using the “double decker” braiding process. I didn’t. I just made a free standing boule (which PR lists in the commenary box as one of the options). I confess: I was just so unexcited by the bread that I didn’t want to bother going through all the braiding process. Look: if refusing to braid a bread I don’t want to eat is wrong, I don’t wanna be right.

Comments on the Final Product

Again, PR would be happy to know that my wife loved it. I ate some, and toasted a bit of it and thought it was okay. But what can I say? I don’t like fruits and nuts. My wife assures me that it was quite good, though.

Here’s a number of shots of the final product:

And here’s a slice shot.

Well, that’s it. Let’s get on to the next bread!

Next Week: English Muffins

NOW we’re talking. I’m ready for this one! I can’t imagine that I could make a half-way decent English Muffin, but that’s okay – Bring it!

20 Responses to “BBA #11: Cranberry-Walnut Celebration Bread”

  1. Joanne Says:

    I really am enjoying this bread, and will miss it when it’s all gone. Not sure my husband will really like it, but that’s ok! He will be home today after a week long business trip.

    I used 50% Fresh ground Winter White wheat, and 50% bread flour, mostly because I felt this bread wouldn’t be very good as a 100% whole wheat bread. I also used pecans in place of the walnuts, and kefir in place of the buttermilk. I did need a little bit extra liquid, but not much. Here’s a my pic and I have posted it on both my blogs. Hope you all enjoy this bread too. I found one baker who used cherries instead of the cranberries, which I thought would be a good substitute.

  2. Joanne Says:

    @Chris – Enjoy your trip out of town! You probably need it if you have been dealing with midterms. Hopefully you have a nice relaxing weekend.

  3. Coz Says:

    I love Joanne’s idea of doing the loaf and I think leftover turkey would be great in a sandwich. I went for the braided look as I had never done it before. It was easy and I liked how it looked. I have all my pictures up at

    Chris, I always like that you go first on our projects and I take tips from what you do for when I try it. I hope we made you proud by going first for a change. Have a nice weekend.

  4. Coz Says:

    Here is the crumb shot.

  5. Joanne Jones Says:

    @Coz – Sure looks good!

    Mine is almost gone…

  6. NancyB Says:

    My blog post is up:

    I did a half recipe, used a 4-strand braid, and the only difficulty was with the amount of fruit and nuts making it hard to braid. And with not eating most of the loaf by myself. Good bread.

  7. Adam Says:

    Hey everyone! Bread is looking good from all of you. I just posted my results here: A word of warning, though. I’m a little tired of baking fruit and nut breads and I think it might have come through in the post :)

  8. Chris Says:

    Hi everyone –

    These breads all look great! I just got home, and it’s too late to make it today, so I’m going to make it in the morning. I’m a bit torn as to whether I should braid (as Adam did) or just go with the sandwich loaf (as Joann did). Since I’m not all that fired up about this bread, I’m tempted to go sandwich. Or: I could just go with a freestanding boule, just to throw in a third method and shake things up!

    Just for the record, I’m with Adam, by the way: I’m a bit tired of all this fruit and nut business. I’m glad that the next batch of breads are (after the English muffins) back to basics – variations of italian and french breads.

  9. Joanne Jones Says:

    Lol, I just finished a multigrain 100% Whole Wheat soaker and a batch of Hamelman’s bagels today. The Multigrain did have sunflower seeds and raisins in it, but it is nothing like the ones we have been making with BBA.

    I have been waiting to make these english muffins since I got the book, so I am hoping that I will have time this week to do just that. I have classes I need to attend this week for my recert as an EMT-B, so it might put me behind schedule. Just have to see I guess! Wish I had known ahead of time, would have spent the day making English Muffins instead!

  10. Chris Says:


  11. Joanne Jones Says:

    @Chris – I like the boule! That turned out quite nice, and your crumb looks great too. I am with you on this one, definitely ready for english muffins next. Never have made them, but sounds great. I have been thinking of crumpets also, wondering just how hard they are to make!

  12. Coz Says:

    Chris, your bread looks very yummy. I think it is neat that everyone did different shapes for this challenge.

  13. NancyB Says:

    @Joanne: I find crumpets easier than the English muffins I just baked, which failed to have the holey texture English muffins need. Crumpets are much closer to pancakes–you make the batter, let it rise a while, then cook them on a griddle using crumpet rings so you don’t actually *get* pancakes.

    I’m guessing I didn’t add enough liquid to the English muffins–must have been Reinharted! :)

  14. Frieda Says:

    The fun thing about making breads is that you can shape them any way you want! I call bread dough my “better-than-play dough.” You would be surprised to see how easy it is to make a single rope into a braid. Check out my post if you are interested…

  15. Frieda Says:

    Cranberry Walnut-less Celebration Bread

  16. jim Says:

    @ all ; seems almost everyone enjoyed this recipe,and all the breads look great.I was looking forward to this one as fruit and nut breads are among my favorite.I chose to do a braid with half and a sandwich loaf with the rest.I plumped the cranberries overnight in 1 cup of hot water,which created all kinds of problems .One ,I added the butter milk but needed to add 1/4 cup of more liquid,used the drained cranberry soaker.When (and I knew) I added the moist cranberries ,it created a sloppy mess.Had to add approx 3/4 cup flour to keep on track.It rose fine, divided ,shaped, eggwashed,Then had to pick up the wife,didn’t put the loaves in the fridge as I should have.By the time we got back they were a liite over proofed.
    The resulting bread had a lighter spongy texture,the cranberries had lost their flavor from soaking I guess.The overall taste was good,not great to me.
    When I make this again no soaking fruit for me. I’ll post one photo here the rest on my blog

  17. A Ku Indeed! » Blog Archive » BBA #12: English Muffins Says:

    [...] after two challenges that I had little interest in (the Cornbread and Cranberry-Walnut Bread challenges) I was definitely psyched up to do this one. Why? Well, two quick reasons off of the top [...]

  18. Chris Says:

    @Jim: Nice looking loaf! The braided one looks great too!

    @All: I feel like we’ve lost a few BBAers along the way?

  19. Geraint Says:

    I’m still here, although I feel I’m lagging behind a bit – I still have to catch up with the challah challenge, plus this cranberry bread, and many of you are already on to the muffins.

    I do bake a lot of bread. A lot. The problem is I often don’t feel like baking the challenge bread. First, I have to go through the process of converting the recipes to grams as I don’t really understand or feel comfortable measuring cups or ounces. Second, there’s definitely a downside to having the recipes organised in an alphabetical order, with too many similar breads following on from each other. I think a book called the Bread Baker’s Apprentice would be better organised by increasing levels of difficulty.

    Nevertheless, I will see this challenge through to the end, even if I don’t keep up quite the same pace as the rest of you.

  20. Chris Says:

    Geraint –

    Following your Twitter feed, I know you bake a lot!

    I agree about the organization of the book. I don’t really understand the alphabetical order. It should certainly be in order of difficulty, I totally agree. Moreover, alphabetical order means too many of the same type bread clustered up. That said, in PR’s defense, I suppose he wasn’t writing the book with challenges from start to finish in mind. I wonder if he wrote a book that was specifically for challenges, if he’d write and organize it differently.

    Looking forward to your posts, when you can make them. They are always informative!

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