So, apparently if I have a post started on my phone, it isn’t saved here, so I’m trying to catch up on all of my drafts that aren’t quite finished. Oops!
I was telling Annie (I think), from An Unrefined Vegan, that I had about 43 recipes and posts all queued up in my head, but it was the transfer from there to here that is causing some great problems! That, and we moved the computer into the basement and I almost never make it down here – which can be argued as both good and bad! I’m not making excuses, but I do have so, so much to share, not just in recipes but in fun experiences!
So, back to that title. One of the reasons I’ve been hesitant to post lately is that I have become a sourdough junkie. That’s not entirely a problem, but in order to make these lovely things, one must have a sourdough start and you can’t just pick one up at Whole Foods with your tofu and broccoli. But I am going to tell you now, and I’m only going to tell you once. Get one NOW! Okay, maybe not, but I have way too much fun with mine and think you could too.
In the two months, I’ve made not only several kinds of bread, but weekly waffles & pancakes, bagels, french toast, cornbread, cake, cookies (those last two were AWFUL!), and several big messes justified in the name of science.
I maintain a whole wheat start that is happiest when fed twice a day with about 2/3 c. whole wheat flour and 1/2 c. filtered water (but survives when ignored for 36 hours). I stir it to death with a chopstick in a quart jar to incorporate air and loosely throw a plastic top on to keep out floaters and drifters. If I don’t need to use it 12 hours later, I dump most of it into an old peanut butter container in the fridge to use for waffles and pancakes. Don’t worry, I’ll share my waffles eventually because vegan, whole grain sourdough waffles are crazy good.
This bread is adapted from Classic Sourdoughs, a book that I will regrettably have to give back to the library in the next week or so. (Few of the recipes work the way I like, but it’s a good guide.) This bread is amazing because at Thanksgiving, I paired it with Somer’s OFF THE CHAIN (yes, I took that from Madagascar because that is the level of my life – tell me you’ve seen the commercial where the mom gets reprimanded by her 9 year old for saying “Raise the Roof!” – I digress, but that’s totally me) Baked Macadamia Nut Brie en Croute. I didn’t want to eat anything else, but I did because there were 22 other people there and I tried to be polite. The two were made for each other – this bread and her brie.
So, without further adieu, here is your Cranberry Walnut Bread:
(almost all) Whole Grain Cranberry Walnut Sourdough Bread
Adapted from Classic Sourdoughs, by Ed Wood and Jean Wood
Makes 2 loaves
2 c. whole wheat sourdough culture (I split my start into two jars and double feed it in the morning, then it’s ready to use in the evening)
1 ¼ c. water
2 T. sweetener (honey, sugar, barley malt syrup, but it’s flat without any sweetener)
2 t. salt
½ – 2/3 c. dried sweetened cranberries
½ – 2/3 c. chopped walnuts
4 ½ – 7 c. flour, mixed (I usually use 3-4 c. whole grain (wheat, kamut), and 2 c. all-purpose)
At night: Combine the first 6 ingredients, through the walnuts. Stir around in your stand mixer or a bowl. (I hear you can use a bread maker, but I haven’t tried.) Add flour a cup at a time, kneading on low speed and adding flour until your dough is crazy stiff, so stiff you don’t think it could possibly take any more flour (I usually add just a bit more after that). Knead until smooth and satiny. Place dough in an oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap (a towel didn’t work for me, I tried), and let rise overnight, 8-12 hours, until it is beautiful and at least doubled.
In the morning: Gently ease your dough out of its bowl onto a floured board or a silpat. (I love my silpat because it works through the whole process.) Let it sit there for 30 minutes or so, and if it looks like it’s deflating, add more flour. If not, cut it in half, shape into two loaves, cover with your plastic wrap from the first rise, and let it rise again until doubled, usually about 2 – 2 ½ hours.
Just after lunch: Place your silpat on the pan, slash your loaves in a lovely decorative manner, and slide them in a cold oven. Add some hot water to a pan on the lower rack (for oven spring). Turn the oven to 350F and bake for 65 – 70 minutes. The top will be dark brown, and if you used black walnuts, you’ll also have bluish bread – it’s cool, believe me.
Notes: When adding flour, I found that if I didn’t add enough, the bread didn’t turn out – it was flat and dense, which seems counterintuitive. I think that because it’s a whole grain bread, it doesn’t lend itself well to the custardy middle/wet dough philosophy.
On the second rise, I let mine rise at room temperature until it has just doubled, usually two hours. If it gets too warm (75+ degrees) or goes too long (4 hours), the sour flavor is more strongly pronounced and the bread is less fluffy, which isn’t always bad, but I don’t think it’s as nice with this particular bread.
If you don’t want to make Somer’s Baked Brie, then you might need to know that the Earth Balance Coconut Spread is fantastic on this as well. The sweet of the coconut with the hint of sour…yeah, it’s pretty much amazing.
And I will be trying this with dried apples and walnuts or pecans soon. Ooh, that sounds good. Maybe tonight even.