Saturday, October 31, 2009

Pumpkin Cranberry Braid

This week, we're continuing our series on pumpkin breads. The bread of the week is a beautiful Pumpkin Cranberry Braid. The wonderful blend of spices gives the bread a delicious burst of flavor! I saw this bread on Sugarcrafter a couple of weeks ago and I just had to try it.

Some friends invited us to dinner last night so I thought this was a good opportunity to make some special bread and share it with our new friends. I brought one of the pumpkin cranberry loaves to dinner and everyone loved it -- especially my taste tester.  I put the other loaf in the freezer to save for another special occasion or maybe for some Bread Pudding.

Editor's note: I like what Sandy (At the Baker's Bench), the very gracious hostess of the BYOB, had to say about this bread, "Those of you dining at others' homes this Thanksgiving take note: this bread looks like the perfect hostess gift (but be advised that it may steal the show ~ so practice your humble face in advance)."   Very wise words indeed!

I submitted this beautiful bread to
BYOB for the November 1st roundup. Be sure to check out all of the wonderful breads in the Nov 1st BYOB Roundup.

Pumpkin Cranberry Braid

Makes: Two 10-inch braided loaves
From: The  kitchen of Sugarcrafter

The addition of dried cranberries gives these loaves a wonderful Autumn flavor. 



  • 4 1/2 cups bread flour
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/8 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp instant yeast
  • 1/3 cup dried cranberries
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 stick butter, melted
  • 1 3/4 cups pumpkin (I used about 2 cups of roasted pumpkin puree.)



In a large bowl, mix together the flour, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, sugar, salt, and yeast. In a separate bowl, mix together the eggs, butter, and pumpkin. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, stirring until well-combined.  Knead the dough with a stand mixer for 2 minutes (3 minutes by hand).

Let the dough rest for 15 minutes, then continue kneading for about 5 more minutes until smooth (8-10 minutes by hand).

My pumpkin puree was more liquid than canned pumpkin and I had added 2 cups rather than 1 3/4 so I added more flour as I was kneading the dough.  I switched to kneading the dough by hand at this point so I could get a better feel for the consistency of the dough.
Then knead in the dried cranberries. Spray a bowl with cooking spray and place the dough in it. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside to rise for 1 to 1 1/2 hours or until doubled in volume.

Turn the dough out on to a lightly floured surface. Divide it in half. Then divide each half into three pieces.

Roll each piece out to about 10-inch log.

For each loaf, braid the pieces together as shown below, then pinch the ends together and tuck them underneath.


Place the loaves on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper that has been sprayed with cooking spray.

Cover them with plastic wrap and allow to rise for another hour. The loaves should look puffy, though not necessarily doubled in bulk.  Mine doubled in bulk.

Bake the bread in a preheated 375°F oven for 20 to 25 minutes, until lightly browned and a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove the braids from oven, and allow them to cool on a wire rack.

I brushed them with melted butter first, then let them cool on the wire rack.

Serve the loaves warm or at room temperature.  I wrapped the loaves in plastic wrap because they were too big to fit in a bread bag.

If any bread is left over after a few days, use it to make bread pudding. Try this Bread Pudding Recipe.

You might enjoy some of these other Pumpkin Bread RecipesOr, this Ginger Pumpkin Braid Recipe.

Happy Baking!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Cranberry Oatmeal Pumpkin Seed Bread

This week in the bread-baking blog, we're making Oatmeal Pumpkin Seed Bread using the remaining Oatmeal Pumpkin Bread dough from last week.  The dough has been fermenting in the refrigerator for the past week and has a wonderful aroma.  For additional flavor and texture, we'll add some roasted pumpkin seeds and dried cranberries. The cranberries give the bread a wonderfully tart flavor. 

Cranberry Oatmeal Pumpkin Seed Bread

This bread is made with the Oatmeal Pumpkin Bread dough.  The ingredients and step-by-step instructions for making the dough can be found here.


Lightly grease a 9 x 4 x 3-inch nonstick loaf pan.  Dust the surface of the refrigerated dough with flour.  I had weighed the dough when I made the loaves last week so I just used the remaining dough in the container.

Dust the piece with more flour and quickly shape it into a ball by stretching the surface of the dough around to the bottom on all four sides.  Rotate the ball a quarter-turn as you stretch.

Flatten the dough with your hands.

Roll it into a 1/2-inch thick rectangle.  Use enough flour to prevent it from sticking to the work surface but don't use too much or the dough will be dry.

Sprinkle the seeds and cranberries (I used craisins) over the dough.

Roll the dough up to encase them.

Fold the dough over again to work the seeds into the dough.

Form the dough into a loaf shape using only a small amount of flour and place it in the prepared pan.  The dough was so wet, I just patted it in the pan with a spatula sprayed with cooking spray.

Cover the dough with plastic wrap and let the dough rest and rise 2 hours.  I let it rise for several hours but it never really reached the top of the pan so I decided to go ahead and bake it.


Twenty minutes before baking time, preheat the oven to 350 degrees and place an empty broiler tray on the bottom shelf.  We won't need a baking stone this time since we're baking the bread in a loaf pan.

Right before baking the loaf, brush it with an egg wash and place it on the middle rack of the oven.

Pour a cup of hot water into the broiler tray and close the oven door.   Bake the loaf for 45 to 50 minutes, until deeply browned and firm. Allow to cool before slicing or serving.  The bread is chewy on the outside and flavorful and crunchy on the inside.  It tastes really good toasted with butter.  Enjoy!

Thanks for visiting The Bread Experience Bread-Baking Blog. We hope you enjoyed your visit and we'll join us next time when we make a different type bread.

Happy Baking!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Making Jam: Apple Preserves

I've said it before, but I love this time of year!  I'm really enjoying the crisp air and the beautiful colors on all the trees.  It's the peak of apple season and that means I also get to enjoy my new found love (obsession rather) of canning.

My sister and I went to our favorite farm last weekend to get more apples (a bunch more), pumpkins and tomatoes.  This weekend it was time to start canning those babies.  So far, I've canned salsa, apple butter and apple preserves.  I still have a bunch more apples to can and haven't even started on the pumpkins yet.  I'm saving those for next month.

Here is a photo of  the delicious apples we got from Jaemor Farms.  The green ones are Mutsu apples and the red ones are Cameo apples.  Both of them are crisp and a little bit tart.  Great for canning and eating!

I really like these apple preserves!  They have just a hint of lemon flavor and are beautiful in color due to the thinly sliced lemon (with lemon peel).

Apple Preserves
Makes: About six 8-ounce jars
(I had enough preserves for twelve 4 oz jars and one 8 oz jar)

The recipe for these apple preserves is from the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving.  I just got this book and I've already fallen in love with it! I've placed post-it notes on all the jams, butters, pickles, etc. that I plan to can over the next year.  My poor boyfriend is wondering how I'll have time for him.  I just remind him of all the wonderful jams and jellies (not to mention bread) that he gets to taste test for me.  That usually helps!  

  • 6 cups sliced cored peeled apples (I used a combination of Mutsu and Cameo apples.) 
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 package (1.75 oz) regular powdered fruit pectin
  • 1 medium lemon (unpeeled), seeded and thinly sliced
  • 4 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons ground nutmeg (See the dark flecks in the jar in the photo? That's nutmeg!)


Prepare the canner, jars and lids.  In a large, deep stainless steel saucepan, combine apples, water and lemon juice.  Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring occasionally.  Reduce heat, cover and boil gently, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes.

Remove from heat and whisk in pectin until dissolved.  Return to high heat and bring to a boil, stirring frequently.

Add lemon slices, sugar and nutmeg.  Return to a full rolling boil, stirring constantly.  Boil hard, stirring constantly, for 1 minute.


Remove from heat and skim off any foam.

Ladle hot preserves into hot jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace.  Remove air bubbles and adjust headspace, if necessary, by adding hot preserves.  Wipe rim clean.

Center lid on jar.  Screw band down until resistance is met, then increase to fingertip-tight.

Place jars in canner, ensuring they are completely covered with water.  Bring to a boil and process 10 minutes.  Atlanta is a little bit above 1,000 altitude and according to the chart, I need to process the jars 5 minutes more.  So I processed them in the water bath for 15 minutes rather than 10.

Remove canner lid.  Wait 5 minutes, then remove jars, cool and store.


Canning Resources:

In addition to the Ball Book on Canning, I've been using some sites as a reference in my canning adventures.  You might enjoy them as well:
I also enjoying using the resources in the book: Keeping The Harvest: Discover the Homegrown Goodness of Putting Up Your Own Fruits, Vegetables & Herbs by Nancy Chioff & Gretchen Mead.
Here are some delicious breads that would go well with this jam!


Happy Canning & Baking!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Pane Siciliano: BBA Challenge

The #23rd bread in the BBA Challenge is Pane Siciliano.  I loved making this bread!  The dough felt so smooth and silky while I was kneading it.  You don't want to use a mixer for this one or you'll miss out working with the wonderful dough!  I also enjoyed shaping these loaves.  The dough was so easy to work with, it just glided smoothly into shape. 

I understand why this is one of Peter Reinhart's favorite breads.  This is a fabulous bread!  It's such a treat to work with the smooth dough and shape the beautiful loaves.  The loaves are delicious!  Absolutely delicious!  I could've eaten a whole loaf by myself.  Well, maybe not...

I like these loaves so much I'm submitting them to this week's YeastSpotting bread roundup, hosted by Susan of Wild Yeast. Please visit Wild Yeast view all of the lovely breads in the roundup.

Here are some other Italian Breads you might like to try.

Pane Siciliano
Makes: 3 loaves
From The Bread Baker's Apprentice by Peter Reinhart

  • 3 cups Pâte Fermentée
  • 1 3/4 cups unbleached high-gluten or bread flour
  • 1 3/4 cups semolina flour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 cups water, lukewarm
  • Natural, brown, and/or black sesame seeds for topping

It took me about 5 days (rather than 3) from start to finish to make this bread. You only do a little bit each day so it worked out really well with my hectic schedule this past weekend.

I started the Pâte Fermentée Thursday night and let it stay in the refrigerator all weekend. Then I made the dough and shaped the loaves on Sunday. I put them in the refrigerator to rise overnight, took them out to rise on the counter for a few hours on Monday, then baked them (and ate them!)


Making the Pâte Fermentée

For detailed instructions on making the Pâte Fermentée, refer to the post on French Baguettes.

Making the Dough
Remove the Pâte Fermentée from the refrigerator one hour before making the dough.  Cut it into about 10 small pieces with a pastry scraper. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and let it sit on the counter for an hour to take off the chill.

Stir together the bread flour, semolina flour, salt and yeast.  Add the Pâte Fermentée pieces, the oil, honey and water.  Stir until everything comes together and makes a coarse ball. 

I started out with a wooden spoon then switched to the Danish dough whisk to make sure the dough was thoroughly mixed. Adjust the flour or water if necessary so that the dough is neither too sticky nor too stiff. 

Transfer the dough to a counter sprinkled with flour.  Knead for about 10 minutes or until the dough is soft and pliable, tacky but not sticky, and all the pre-ferment is evenly incorporated. I love this dough!  It feels wonderful!

Fermenting the Dough

Form the dough into a ball.  Lightly oil large bowl.  Transfer the dough to the bowl and roll it around to coat it with oil.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap to begin the fermentation.

Let the dough ferment at room temperature for 2 hours, or until the dough doubles in size.

Transfer the dough to the counter and using a bench knife, gently divide it into 3 equal pieces.

Shape as for baguettes (page 74).  For more details on shaping baguettes, refer to this post 

First form the dough into a batard shape. Gently pat the dough into a rough triangle.  Then, being careful not to degas the dough, fold the bottom third of dough, letter style, up to the center and press to seal, creating surface tension on the outer edge.

Fold the remaining dough over the top and use the edge of your hand to seal the seam closed and to increase the surface tension all over.

Let the batards relax for 5 minutes before shaping into baguettes.

After the batards have rested, lift the dough and gently pull it out from the ends.  This dough was so wonderful that the baguettes just slid right into form.

Crease the dough down the middle and fold it like a letter.

Seal the crease against the counter to create surface tension.

Working from the center of the loaf and moving to the outside edges, gently but firmly rock and roll out the dough to extend it to about 24 inches.  Be careful not to degas it too much. 

Working from each end simultaneously, coil the dough toward the center, forming an S shape.  I loved this part! 

Now shape the other two loaves.

Place the loaves on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper sprinkled with semolina.  I put all 3 loaves on the same baking sheet but you can bake them separately if you like.  Mist the loaves with water.

Then sprinkle sesame seeds on top of each loaf.

Spray the loaves with vegetable spray, cover them with plastic wrap or a food grade plastic bag, then place the pan in the refrigerator overnight.

The next day, take the loaves out to finish proofing.  I took them out a few hours before I planned to bake them to take the chill off.

To determine if the loaves need further proofing after you take them out of the refrigerator, gently poke the dough.  This is fun!

If the dough springs back quickly, leave the pan out, still covered, for a couple of hours, or until it rises more.

The dough should stay dimpled when poked, and the loaves should be nearly twice as large as when first shaped.

Preparing the Oven for Hearth Baking

Prepare the oven for hearth baking.  Make sure to have an empty steam pan in place.  You don't need a baking stone.  Preheat the oven to 500 degrees with the oven rack on the middle shelf.  For more detailed instructions on hearth baking, refer to the post on Pain À l'Ancienne Baguettes. 

Uncover the bread dough and place the pan in the oven.  Bake the loaves for 30 minutes, rotating the loaves for even baking about halfway through the baking cycle.  For detailed instructions on hearth baking, including using the steam pan and spraying the oven walls with water at 30-second intervals, refer to the post on Pain À l'Ancienne Baguettes.

If the loaves are touching, gently separate them.  I had to remove the pan from the oven to separate them.  Then I rotated the plan and placed it back in the oven to finish baking.

Continue baking for 10 to 15 minutes more until the loaves are a rich golden brown all over.  If you see light or white sections of dough, extend the baking time for a few extra minutes to maximize color and flavor.

Remove the plan from the oven.

Transfer the loaves to a cooling rack.  Cool for at least 45 minutes before serving.  Once the loaves had cooled, I decided to try Peter Reinhart's suggestion for slicing this bread.  I cut it lengthwise down the middle.

Then, I laid the cut side down on the cutting board and sliced it into 3/4-inch-thick slices across the width. You can do this either straight down or on a slight diagonal.  I think I did a little of both.

See all of these slices!  I ate them all - not at once but throughout the day!  They were really good with butter and with pear butter and with citrus marmalade.

Here are the other two breads.  I just love the way these loaves look!

Here is another view of the Pan Siciliano loaves with my son's beautiful floral arrangement.  He's giving this arrangement to his girlfriend.  That's fine by least I got a picture.

I put the other loaves in a plastic bag to keep fresh for a couple of days if they last that long. One of the loaves will probably go in the freezer to enjoy another day.

Thanks for joining us this week in the Bread Baker's Apprentice Challenge.

The next bread in Bread Baker's Apprentice Challenge, is Pannetone.  This bread uses a wild yeast starter. I have three starters so I'll have to figure out which one I want to use. 
Happy Baking!

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