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Studly cranberries

Monday, January 7, 2013

"Fruited bread should be just that: bread so thick with rich, plump fruit that some inevitably breaks through the outer surface of the dough, no matter how carefully it is shaped." ~ Dan Lepard, in The Handmade Loaf.
And that's exactly how Dan Lepard makes his raisin and cinnamon loaf – with 50% raisins. This kind of percentage would punish the profits of bakeries, he says, but it's not a dilemma the home baker faces.
I was certainly all for cramming in the fruit when I adapted Dan Lepard's recipe for my cranberry cinnamon hybrid bread. By commercial bakery standards, it would probably be one of the rejects – I mean, look at that uneven surface and all those fruits poking out of it. It looks like it had been accidentally dropped on the floor before it went into the oven.
But we home bakers are more discerning and know what's really important, don't we?
And what's important to me is seeing those red studs all over the bread and in the crumb too. The cranberries even add a tinge of rosy pink to the dough.
Dan Lepard doesn't call this a hybrid bread, but since it is leavened both with a wild yeast starter and a small amount of commercial yeast, I thought the name was appropriate. I would have put the dough in the fridge for a slow final proof and to build flavour, but since most of the flavour comes from the cranberries, there's no need for overnight retardation. The loaf also contains a small amount of rolled oats.
The entire mixing and kneading (stretch-and-fold method) process is done by hand. The dough is only moderately hydrated (about 56%) and is easy to handle.
Preparing the dough
  1. The oatmeal and cranberries are mixed with the wet ingredients to hydrate them.
  2. Wet and dry ingredients are combined into a rough dough.
  3. After the first stretch-and-fold. The dough is still a little rough.
  4. After the second stretch-and-fold. The dough has become more elastic and smoother.
  5. After the third stretch-and-fold, the dough is left to proof for an hour. A bit of hardened dough in the bowl is used as a gauge of how much the dough will rise.
  6. After an hour, the dough has risen significantly and is closer to the imaginary line.
The next step in the process is to shape the loaf. It can be shaped into a simple boule or bรขtard, or placed in a loaf tin, but why not follow Dan Lepard's suggestion and make a ring or couronne?
Shaping the loaf
He says that traditionally, bakers use their elbow to make the hole in the centre. I contemplated doing it this way for a second and then went with my fingers instead. Next time. The dough ring is placed on a tea towel or proofing cloth, and the centre of the towel is pulled up though the hole to prevent it from closing as the dough rise.
When the loaf is ready for the oven, it is inverted onto a baking pan and the top is slashed all along the circumference. It comes out of the oven looking like it has a huge grin.
This loaf has been submitted to YeastSpotting.
Ring around the cranberries
Cranberry Cinnamon Hybrid Loaf
Makes a 450g loaf

75g refreshed stiff leaven (mine is at 80% hydration and fed with atta flour)
107g tepid water
12g agave nectar (or honey)
¼ tsp instant yeast
12g rolled oats
100g dried cranberries
188g bread flour
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp ground cinnamon
Rice flour for dusting (it sticks better)

Place leaven, water and agave nectar in a large mixing bowl. Stir in the yeast. Leave for five minutes.
Stir in the rolled oats and cranberries. Leave for 10 minutes.
Combine flour, salt and cinnamon, and stir into the wet ingredients until the mixture comes together. If it  is a little dry, add extra water by the teaspoon. Leave for 10 minutes to hydrate.
Using a wet hand, stretch one side of the dough as far as it will go without tearing and fold it over to the middle. Give the bowl a quarter turn with the other hand and repeat the stretching and folding. Go around the dough a few more times, then form it into a ball. Turn the ball over so the seam in on the bottom. Cover the bowl with a tea towel and leave for 10 minutes.
Repeat the stretch-and-fold two more times at 10-minute intervals. The dough will be more elastic and smoother each time. Cover the bowl and leave to rise for 1 hour.
Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface and reshape it into a ball. Using two fingers make a hole in the centre of the ball. Enlarge the hole until the dough is in the shape of a ring.
Dust a linen proofing cloth (or a tea towel) with rice flour and bunch it up in the centre. Place it on a dinner plate. Place the dough ring on the tea towel with the hole over the bunched up bit and pluck it through the hole. Cover the dough with a tea towel and leave to double in size.
Preheat oven to 210°C.
Place a piece of non-stick parchment paper over the dough and a baking tray on top. Invert the loaf onto the paper-lined tray. Remove the proofing cloth. Brush off the loose flour. Using a blade/serrated knife, make a 5mm-deep slash around the circumference of the loaf near the top. Mist the surface of the loaf with water and place it in the oven. Bake until dark brown and the loaf feels light, 25 to 30 minutes. The internal temperature will be at least 94°C.
Let the loaf cool slightly before slicing.


  1. Wow Jane. This looks just so beautiful and am sure it tastes as good. Save me a piece, maybe?

  2. This looks great! I love how you shaped it into a wreath! I need to try this!


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