The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Cranberry Orange Bread

LoganK's picture

Cranberry Orange Bread

I recently tried some orange cranberry bread at my local grocery's bakery (Wegman's), which is being produced for the holiday season.  It was nice, but not exactly the direction I would have gone with it, and not something I wanted to eat a great deal of.  It was very orange-y, quite sweet, and topped with coarse sugar.  I began thinking about how I would do things differently and eventually put together this formula.  After a little trial and error, I'm very happy with this bread, so I thought I would share. 

The sweet potato and small amount of butter makes for a very soft, but still satisfyingly strong crumb, and the crust is medium, golden, and very pleasantly soft.  I'm a fan of hearty hearth breads with crust edging on charred and bursting with seeds, so this is a nice change from the norm for me.  The cranberries are ideal for me at 30%, and walnuts are present but not so abundant as to weight down the loaf or overpowering the orange and sweet potato.  I'm very pleased with how this most recent version is balanced.  It's delicious on it's own, with butter or cream cheese, toasted with jam (nothing too sweet), or soaking up the yolks of over-easy eggs, my personal favorite.

I'd like to hear any feedback or suggestions for this bread, if anyone has thoughts.  Formula and instructions are below. 





                                        %         Weight

Bread Flour                        50         50g
Whole Wheat Flour             50         50g
Instant Yeast                     0.5        0.5g (1/8 tsp for me)
Water                                70         70g

- Mix ingredients and ferment covered at room temperature about 3 hours, then refrigerate overnight. I have held the biga for this bread up to about 3 days with no problems. Remove from fridge an hour or two before mixing the final dough to get rid of the chill. Or, just adjust your water temperature to counteract the cool biga (I prefer just to let it warm up on it's own).

Final Dough

                                          %         Weight

Biga                                    50        170g
Bread Flour                          100       340g
Water                                  54        184g
Sweet Potatoes                     43        146g
Unsalted Butter                     4          14g
Salt                                     2.1        7g
Instant Yeast                        1          3.4g (just shy of a teaspoon for me)
Sweetened Dried Cranberries  30         102
Walnuts, toasted                   20         64
Zest of 1 orange

- Peel and boil the sweet potato until soft, then drain and mash. Mix the butter in while mashing, and allow the mixture to cool completely. Combine flour, biga (chop into small pieces first for easier mixing), water, yeast, salt, orange zest, and the sweet potato/butter mixture and mix to form a fairly shaggy dough. I like to mix the water and orange zest into the sweet potato/butter mixture, and then add that mixture to the dry ingredients and biga. Works well, but I don't believe it matters much.

NOTE: if your oranges are not the best or you want more orange in the bread, substitute some or all of the water out for orange juice. I used about a third orange juice and two thirds water with my last batch and it was ideal. I suspect when the good florida oranges come into season this won't be necessary, but I'll have to wait and see.

- Knead until very smooth and somewhat elastic. I used a KA mixer with a dough hook set around 3 for 10-12 minutes. Then add the cranberries and walnuts and mix at low speed or incorporate by hand. My mixer is reluctant to distribute these, so I knead by hand for the last few minutes.

- Ferment until roughly doubled, 2-3 hours is typical for me.

- Divide and shape the dough. This is enough for two smallish boules, a shade over 500g each. Rolls would also be nice, and I thought I might try a braid next time.

- Proof about 45-90 minutes, until slightly pillowy and roughly doubled (careful of overproofing though, this dough is quite soft and when I first started tinkering with it I had a couple runaway proofing experiences). I proof boules freestanding on parchment directly on a sheet pan, covered loosely with plastic wrap or produce bags.

- Preheat the oven to 400, no steam or stone is necessary.  Also, this bread does not benefit from scoring.

- Bake the loaves on a sheet pan for 20 minutes at 400, and then rotate the pan if your oven requires it. Bake for an additional 10-20 minutes, I usually count on 12-14 in my oven. I pull them when they're nice and golden all over, sound hollow, and reach at least 190 in the center. These times are just for boules, so if you makes rolls or another shape, you'll want to adjust accordingly.

- Boules should cool for about an hour, but after that I like them best at their very freshest. This will keep in plastic bags quite well for about 2 days, and if any lasts past then it would be good for toasting.

The Results:

My cutting wasn't great, but you get the idea.

My slicing wasn't perfect, but you get the idea.


For a little scale.

My ideal breakfast.


gaaarp's picture

Very nice! I will have to give this recipe a try. I'm ahead on the BBA Challenge, so I should have some time to bake over the next week or so.

Here's my somewhat more traditional take on Cranberry Orange Walnut Bread, made without yeast and with fresh cranberries: