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Cranberry Walnut and Orange Sourdough Bread

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Since March, I have been baking 2 loaves of sourdough per week and have gotten pretty good at it. When I first started out, I was doing the Beginner Sourdough recipe that I got from Cook’s Illustrated, which is a 56% hydration dough (56% water compared to flour) but as I got more confident, I moved on to a more advanced version, which is 76% hydration. The higher hydration dough isn’t extremely hard but it does require a few different techniques because of the wet dough. However I like the texture better of the higher hydration dough.

To add variety, I’ve started playing around with adding some flavourings to the bread. This week I tried adding dried cranberries, toasted walnuts and orange zest to the dough. It worked out so well! I was worried that the heavy ingredients would impede the bread from rising as well, but it wasn’t a problem at all.

Here is the recipe if you’d like to try it. Because the techniques are different than regular bread recipes, I’ve also made a video to demonstrate. There are a few terms that you may be unfamiliar with:

  • Levain: this is the rising agent for the dough. Basically you feed a bit of your starter and let it double in size before adding it to the rest of the dough.
  • Autolyze: About 1 hour before you are ready to mix your levain into the dough, you mix the flour with most of your water. This helps hydrate the flour and develop the gluten in the flour, which means you don’t need to knead it as much.
  • Slap-fold Technique: This is a technique of kneading for wet doughs, where you pick up the dough, slap it down and fold it over itself.
  • Stretch and fold Technique: A process of picking one side of the dough up, stretching it without tearing and folding it over to the other side. This helps give the bread structure for rising.

All of the measurements are in grams, for accuracy. I have used both all-purpose and bread flour with success in this recipe. I use Banneton proofing bowls for my overnight rise in the fridge. If you don’t have these, you can use a colander or basket lined with a linen towel. It is best to cook the loaves in a dutch oven.

[recipe title=”Cranberry Walnut and Orange Sourdough” servings=”2 round loaves” totaltime=”24 hours” cooktime=”50 mins” difficulty=”advanced” description=”This sourdough bread is filled with a tasty combination of dried cranberries, toasted chopped walnuts and orange zest and topped with pumpkin seeds. “]

LEVAIN (rising agent)
– 45 g mature, active starter
– 45 g all-purpose or bread flour
– 45 g whole-wheat flour
– 90 g room temperature water

– 800 g all-purpose or bread flour
– 100 g whole-wheat flour
– 680 g water, divided
– 17 g salt

– 100 g dried cranberries
– 100 g toasted walnuts, chopped
– zest of one orange

– 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
– Optional: sesame seeds, poppy seeds or pumpkin seeds.


1. Stir starter, both flours, and water together in a small bowl until fully combined.
2. Cover bowl and let rise at room temperature until doubled in size, 4-5 hours. (Rising time will vary depending on the temperature of the room.)

1. One hour before adding the levain, mix both flours with 580 g of water. Stir to combine. Cover and let rest at room temperature.
2. When levain has doubled in size, pour it over top of your autolyzed dough along with about 50 g of your remaining water. Use hands to squeeze and mix the levain into the dough. Cover and let rest 15 minutes.
3. Sprinkle the salt over the top of the dough and pour on remaining water. Using your hand, squeeze and mix the dough to incorporate all the water. It will be very wet.
4. Turn the dough out onto a clean counter and use the slap-fold technique to knead your dough for 4-6 minutes until the dough is not longer stringy and it starts to catch some air.
5. Use a wet bench scraper to pick up your dough and move it back into the bowl. Scrape off any excess dough left on the counter and add it into your dough. Cover and let rest for 15 minutes.
6. You will now perform 6 stretch and folds. Perform first stretch and fold. Cover and let rest 15 minutes.
7. Perform 2nd stretch and fold. Cover and let rest 15 minutes.
8. Perform 3rd stretch and fold. Cover and let rest 30 minutes.
9. Sprinkle filling ingredients over top of dough and squeeze them into the dough. Perform 4th stretch and fold. Cover and let rest 30 minutes.
10. Perform 5th stretch and fold. Cover and let rest 30 minutes.
11. Perform 6th stretch and fold. Cover and let rest for 90 minutes.
12. Turn dough out onto clean counter. With a wet bench scraper divide the dough in half.
13. Pre-shape the loaves by pulling and turning the dough, to form a round loaf shape with a taut surface. Let rest 10-15 minutes.
14. Meanwhile, prepare two proofing baskets by spreading a few tablespoons of flour over the linen towel and optionally sprinkling with some seeds.
15. Working with one loaf at a time, spread some flour over the surface of the dough. Used a floured bench scraper to loosen the edges of the dough from the counter, then turn the dough over.
15. Fold the bottom of the dough toward the centre, then fold each side toward the centre. Finally, fold the top of the down toward and over the bottom of the dough to form a log shape.
16. Flip the log upside-down and transfer to your proofing basked. Spread with a bit of flour and more seeds, if you wish. Cover and let rest in the fridge overnight for 14-16 hours.
17. One hour before baking, put your dutch oven, with lid, in the oven and heat to 500 F/260 C.
18. Just before baking, cut out a 12-inch/30 cm square of parchment paper for each loaf. Turn loaf out onto parchment paper. Using a serrated knife, score a 1/2 inch deep cross into the top of your loaf (this helps the bread rise evenly).
19. When ready to bake, remove your dutch oven from the oven. Carefully lift your loaf on the parchment paper into the the dutch oven and cover with the lid.
20. Place in the oven and lower the oven temperature to 425 F/220 C. Bake for 30 minutes.
21. After 30 minutes, remove the lid and bake for a further 20 minutes, until the crust is brown and the internal temperature of the loaf is 210F/98.5 C.
22. Remove loaf to a cooling rack. Let cool to room temperature (about 2 hours) before slicing.

I have made a video of all the techniques and posted it below:


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