Walnut Cranberry Sourdough Bread Recipe | Super Easy and Delicious

Cranberry walnut bread is a staple in the American kitchen. It’s a delicious cake-like bread filled to the brim with ripe cranberries and walnuts. The original version is not so much a bread, but more of a cake. While some more bready versions exist, they’re usually made with baker’s yeast. Well, this is about to change. This is my recipe for a walnut cranberry sourdough bread.


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cross cut of this walnut cranberry sourdough bread with bourbon soaked cranberries and toasted walnuts in the crumb

The original cranberry walnut bread

The original cranberry walnut bread is a so-called quick bread. Much like a banana bread or zucchini bread.

A quick bread is a cake-like bread made using chemical leaveners like baking powder and baking soda. This type of leavening gives you a very delicate and fine crumb structure and usually you’d use all-purpose flour or cake flour to help this along.

Some more bread like versions exist, but they are mostly made with baker’s yeast.

My bread in this recipe make a sourdough bread with bourbon soaked cranberries and toasted walnuts, but with all the tell-tale signs of a sourdough bread: crispy crust, soft but a bit chewy crumb and excellent well-developed taste.

a sourdough walnut cranberry bread on a wooden board

The formula in this walnut cranberry sourdough bread recipe

Vitals

Total weight1400 grams
Prefermented flour9.1%
Hydration 75.0%
Yield2 small loaves

The dough

The flours in this recipe are selected for as much oven spring possible and for a delicious taste.

Bread flour makes the bulk of the flours. 80% of the flour is bread flour. You should choose the best tasting bread flour that you have available.

The remaining 20% consists of whole-grain spelt and whole-grain rye. The nutty and sweet taste of the spelt pairs perfectly with the malty, and slightly earthy flavor from the rye. The combination really gives this bread character.

If you don’t have spelt or rye, you can substitute with any other whole-grain that you like. If you prefer to do a 100% bread flour loaf, you may want to consider using a lower hydration, dependent on whole absorbent your bread flour is. Just note that the bread won’t be nearly as tasty.

The inoculation is 20%, which under normal circumstances gives me a fermentation time of around 3 hours in my proofer set to 30°C/86°F, but the addition of oil tempers the fermentation a bit and it took me around 4 hours. Note that these are just to give you an idea of how long of a fermentation, you should as always go for increase in dough size.

WeightIngredientBaker's Percentage
489gbread flour80%
61gwhole grain spelt flour10%
61gwhole grain rye flour10%
443gwater72.5%
122gstarter (100% hydration)20%
93gtoasted walnuts15.2%
25gwalnut oil4.1%
13gsalt2.1%

The soaker

A soaker is when a liquid is added to seeds or other inclusions to soak up as much of the liquid as they can. The liquid should be discarded before adding it to the dough.

The liquid in the soaker does not count towards the hydration, because when it’s added to the dough, the inclusions have already soaked as much liquid as they can. Otherwise it could actually lower the perceived hydration of the dough.

I use bourbon to soak my cranberries. It’s so little that goes into them that I wouldn’t worry about serving it to anybody, but if you for some reason want to avoid alcohol, using orange juice could be delicious, or you can just use water.

WeightIngredientBaker's Percentage
93gdried sweet cranberries15.2%
80gbourbon13.1%

The formula

If you want to play around with the formula, change hydration, inoculation, quantity, you can do so here in my Bread Calculator.

the deeply caramelized crust of this cranberry walnut sourdough bread

The conclusion of this walnut cranberry sourdough bread recipe

So what does this bread set out to do?

  • Make a sourdough version of a cranberry walnut bread, more bready, less cakey.
  • Get the absolute best taste out of the inclusions.
  • Get all the great things that sourdough can do over commercial yeast.

So does this bread deliver?

Yes, in droves.

It’s a perfect sourdough bread, not cakey at all, but bringing all what a proper fermentation of flour does. The crust is crispy, the crumb is soft, and the taste of the actual bread is nothing short of awesome.

The combination of cranberries and bourbon is wonderful, but also orange juice is a great pairing for cranberries. Toasting the walnuts brings out the earthy notes and tempers the bitterness of the nuts.

This is wonderful bread. Serve it with a healthy helping of wonderfully cultured butter and you’ll be in bread heaven.

close up of the crumb in this sourdough walnut cranberry bread

Please share this recipe for walnut cranberry sourdough bread on social media

This is my recipe for walnut cranberry sourdough bread. If you like the recipe please consider sharing it with like-minded bread lovers on social media.

If you make it and post it on Instagram, please tag me as @foodgeek.dk so I can see it. That would make me very happy.

Walnut Cranberry Sourdough Bread

Course: Dessert, Snack
Cuisine: American
Keyword: bourbon, cranberry, sourdough bread, walnut
Prep: 30 minutes
Cook: 1 hour 30 minutes
Proofing: 3 hours
Total: 1 day
Servings: 2 bread
Calories: 1754kcal
Author: Sune Trudslev
Nutrition Facts
Walnut Cranberry Sourdough Bread
Amount Per Serving (1 bread)
Calories 1754 Calories from Fat 432
% Daily Value*
Fat 48g74%
Saturated Fat 5g31%
Polyunsaturated Fat 32g
Monounsaturated Fat 7g
Sodium 2540mg110%
Carbohydrates 268g89%
Fiber 19g79%
Sugar 33g37%
Protein 44g88%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Walnut Cranberry Bread is a classic American quick bread. This is a sourdough version, with cranberries soaked in bourbon and toasted walnuts. Super delicious.
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Ingredients

Dough

Soaker

  • 93 g dried sweet cranberries
  • 80 g bourbon

Instructions

Mix dough

  • Add everything for the dough not including the walnuts into a bowl.
  • Mix everything with your hands until not dry flour remains.
  • Leave the dough covered for an hour to develop the gluten

Prepare the inclusions

  • Add cranberries and bourbon to a small bowl and leave them to infuse until you need them. If you want this recipe to be alcohol free, just use warm water instead.
  • Heat the oven to 180°C/350°F using fan assist and line a baking sheet with baking paper.
  • Toast the walnuts in the oven until fragrant and a bit brown. Keep an eye on them towards the end so they don't get too dark.
  • Chop the walnuts coarsely.

Bulk fermentation

  • Over the next 1½ hours you should stretch and fold the dough every 30 minutes (watch the video for details).
  • During the second set of stretch and folds you should include a quarter of cranberries (remember to drain the bourbon) and a quarter of the walnuts for every stretch and fold. After this second set, you can do a bit of Rubaud mixing to make sure they're properly mixed in.
  • After the third set check the gluten development using the windowpane test. If the dough fails, add another set after 30 minutes and then go on.
  • Then add the entire dough to a see-through container with straight sides.
  • Level the top of the dough.
  • Mark the top of the dough on the outside of the container using a whiteboard marker.
  • Then mark where the dough will have increased by 25%. If you use a measuring tape, measure from the table to the top. Divide that number by 4. Measure from the top and up by the calculated number, and put your mark here.
  • Let the dough grow by 25%. I usually put the dough in my proofer set to 30°C/86°F.

Divide and shape

  • When the dough has grown, divide the dough into two equally sized pieces.
  • Shape the balls into the style of bread you prefer. I prefer bâtards, but boules can be beautiful too. I show how to shape both in the video.
  • Put the shaped bread in each their banneton. If you are using a banenton liner or a dish tower in the basket you don't need to do anything special.
  • If you are using the proofing basket as is, you need to flour the banneton. I do it this way: I spritz the banneton lightly with water then I flour the banneton with rice flour.
  • Then put them into the fridge for at least 8 hours, but up 48 hours. It's important that your fridge is set cold. Mine is always set to 2°C/36°F.

Baking

  • When you are ready to bake, turn your oven on to 260°C/500°F with a baking steel and a dutch oven inside. Heat it for an hour to make sure that both the steel and the dutch oven are saturated with heat.
  • Grab the first dough from the fridge. Flour the bottom with rice flour to help it slide off the peel.
  • Flip the dough onto the peel and score the dough with a lame or a very sharp kitchen knife.
  • Remove the lid from the dutch oven.
  • Put the dough into the bottom of your dutch oven. If you use a combo cooker or the Challenger Bread pan, this can be a lot easier.
  • Put the lid back on the dutch oven, close the oven and bake for 20 minutes.
  • Then take the lid off the dutch oven and turn down the oven to 230°C/450°F.
  • Bake for another 25 minutes until the bread is delightfully golden and crispy.
  • Then take the bread out of the oven to cool off on a wire rack. Let it cool for a couple of hours until the inside of the bread has reached room temperature.
  • Bake the other bread the exact same way.

Video

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  1. Hi Sune – enjoyed watching this last night. Definitely on the to do list. It reminded me of a breakfast bread I enjoyed in Stockholm a few years ago. It was a large loaf with a lot of dried fruit in it – almost translucent when sliced, and really delicious. I haven’t had much success in finding a recipe – can you help? You’re a lot nearer Stockholm than me… 😉

    Thanks for the excellent videos. They’ve been a great help and encouragement on my sourdough journey.

    Cheers