{ Cranberry Walnut Celebration Bread }

Thanks to Ms. Hurricane Sandy, I had an unexpected day off of work today! And that means my my oven was set at a comfortable 350 degrees with a constant rotation of breads, cakes, and cookies going though it’s doors. Four loaves of banana bread, and 2 dozen chocolate chip cookies later….I was ready to attempt a more complicated bread recipe from Peter Reinhart’s cookbook, “The Bakers Apprentice.” I haven’t done much bread baking before, but I was feeling up to the challenge with all of the free time on my hands!

The original recipe calls for a mixture of cranberries and walnuts, but I was running low on berries so I also threw in some golden raisins and dried currants. If a panettone and a babka had a love child, this bread would be it! Everyone in my family agreed that it will be made on Christmas morning for many more generations to come…aka, the bread turned out incredible!

So without further ado, here is my recipe for Kendall’s Christmas Celebration Bread, adapted from Peter Reinhart’s Cranberry-Walnut Celebration Bread in “The Baker’s Apprentice.”

{ Ingredients}

  • 3 cups of bread flour
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 1 1/5 tablespoons lemon extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup of buttermilk, at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup of water, at room temperature
  • 1 cup dried sweetened cranberries
  • 1/4 cup golden raisins
  • 1/4 cup dried currants
  • 3/4 cup coarsely chopped walnuts

{ To Make the Bread }

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine all of the ingredients (except the dried fruits and nuts) to make a soft dough. Switch the attachment to a dough kneading hook and knead for 5 minutes.

The dough should clear the sides of the mixing bowl, but remain tacky to the bottom. Adjust the concentrations of water and flour so that the dough takes this form.

Add the cranberries, raisins, and currants and continue to knead by hand for an additional 2 minutes.

Then add the chopped walnuts and knead by hand until the nuts are evenly distributed.

Transfer the dough to a well oiled bowl and allow to ferment, uncovered, at room temperature for 2 hours. The dough should almost double in size!

Transfer the dough a counter top surface and divide into 6 pieces; 3 larger pieces and 3 smaller pieces. Roll out all 6 pieces by hand into long strands. Braid the 3 larger strands using the 3-braid technique and then do the same with the 3 smaller strands.

Place the large braid on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and then place the smaller braid directly on top of it. Brush the entire bread with an egg wash (1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon milk) and allow to sit at room temperature for another 2 hours.

The braided bread should double in size. Brush the entire bread with egg wash a second time.

Bake at 325 degrees for approximately 25 minutes, or until golden brown on top. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely before serving.

I like to serve mine with a flavorful homemade butter. Recipe, below:

{ Homemade Sweet Orange Butter }

  • 1 1/2 cups of heavy whipping cream
  • 1 tablespoon Maple Syrup
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt

{ To Make the Butter }

Combine all ingredient in the bowl of an electric mixer, and whisk on a medium-high speed until well combined and buttery in texture.

1 Comment

Filed under Baking, Recipes

One response to “{ Cranberry Walnut Celebration Bread }

  1. Anonymous

    I’ve got a surprise for youuu.

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