I thought: I have just enough time to bake one more goodie. With both our son and daughter coming home for Christmas, what could be better than a celebration? Since I just got the BBA off the bookmobile, why not use Peter Reinhart's celebration loaf, the Cranberry Walnut Celebration Loaf to be exact? Well, mostly exact. I did not have any real buttermilk, but we have some powdered buttermilk in the refrigerator, so I substituted that instead. I bought the orange extract for this loaf, deciding I would like that better than the lemon, and I am sure I made the right choice there. I also decided to soak the dried cranberries before making this up, so I put them in a bowl with about 1/3 cup of brandy and enough hot water to cover them, for about an hour. I mostly drained them before adding them to the dough. I should have drained them a little better.
This was not a overly difficult formula but I had some trouble with the hydration. At first the dough came out quite dry and I added several (4 or 5) tablespoons of water before it seemed right. I later realized this was because I used powdered buttermilk, and failed to adjust the water. At least I failed to acknowledge the water required, but I did add it since I got to the prescribed dough consitency. Then I added the cranberries that I should have drained more thoroughly and it got too wet. A scant tablespoon of flour brought it around and made me happy. The cranberries and walnuts were a little trouble to get well distributed too, but in the end it seems to have turned out well.
It took several minutes longer than the recipe called for to reach the internal temperature target, but the loaf developed beautiful color by the time it was finally done. The aroma while cooking was redolent of oranges and cranberries mixed in with that "There's bread in the oven!" smell I imagine we all love so much. It was a great house to go to bed in last night while this loaf cooled. Here it is:
Cranberry-Walnut Celebration Loaf
And of course, the crumb:
We could not resist trying a couple of slices this morning. It has a delightful texture with a tender and creamy crumb, plenty of fruit and nuts, and if anything, a bit too strong an orange overtone to it. I think I will reduce the orange extract next time, or at least measure extra carefully to see if it was my mistake. It is not overpowering, but it is a bit strong to our taste. Regardless, we are planning to make sure there is enough left over for turkey sandwiches on Sunday.
Merry Christmas to all