Every year around this time, the Thomas’ Cranberry English Muffins make their appearance in the grocery stores. I love these. So does Julia. No matter how hard I resist, my hand just reaches out and grabs a package whenever I’m within a 40 foot radius of the display. I’m not kidding. You can imagine the looks I get.
So the other day, when I was baking bread for the week (it sounds like I do this regularly, and I should, but I am not as organized as I wish. Can you get an organizational skills transplant?), I thought I should throw some cranberries into one of the loaves, just to see how the loaf would turn out.
I’m here to tell you it turned out pretty darn yummy.
Now, if you bake bread, my advice to you is just to make a regular dough that you’d use for sandwich bread, and follow along from there. If you don’t bake much, then you can use any of these basic bread recipes as your launching pad. When your dough has proofed once, punch it down, shape it into a ball or two (depending on how many loaves you’re making), let it rest, covered, for about ten minutes, and then here’s what you do:
Measure out about a cup of whole cranberries. I start with frozen, measure them out while the dough is resting, and then chop them up a bit. I try to just cut the berries in half.
Now, take a ball of dough and roll it out into a square about two inches longer than the length of your loaf pan on each side. It doesn’t have to be perfect.
Pour your chopped cranberries onto the rolled-out dough
and spread them out to cover the dough evenly, leaving about an inch of space on two (opposite) sides.
Julia wanted to make her own loaf, so here she demonstrates her cranberry distribution technique:
Next, fold those edges over to sort of keep the cranberries from rolling out.
Then, starting with the edge closest to you, roll up the loaf, jelly-roll style and pinch the end to the roll to seal.
Pat the roll a bit at the ends to make it short enough to fit into your loaf pan. Place it in the pan, seam side down, cover with plastic or a slightly damp dish towel, and let it rise until it reaches the edge of the pan.
(The picture of mine came out blurry, so here’s Julia’s.)
While it’s rising, preheat the oven to the temperature according to your recipe (usually between 350-375F). Bake about 30-40 minutes, or until golden brown on top. Let cool in the pan for about fifteen minutes, then remove and allow the bread to finish cooling on a rack.
Now, this bread makes lovely toast, with butter or cream cheese on it (as both my kids will attest to),
and it’s also a great sandwich bread. My husband had, for example, a sandwich of roast beef, cheddar, mayo, honey mustard, and arugula (I think), and the cranberries add a really yummy tang to the whole combination.
I’m betting this would be REALLY good with any leftover turkey you have right now, too.
Yesterday my sister gave me a HUGE bag of cranberries. I think I’ll be making more of this bread today. And then maybe hot, open-faced Thanksgiving Leftover sandwiches might be in order for dinner tonight….