When we get back from a trip, one of the first things we do is make up a batch of bread. We’ve made bread on a weekly basis for years, and, after many years, it just becomes a habit. A good habit. It’s first on our list because the starter needs to be fed, plus, we generally use up much or all the bread that’s in the freezer. Now, we could just run out to the store and buy a loaf, but we find that all commercial breads are poor substitutes for bread (we can’t even call them bread). Artisan loaves are better, and, we happen to have a great baker in town who sells through our CSA, but there’s nothing quite like bread fresh from the oven.
This is a simple post; essentially, it’s a variation on our Easy Rye Bread recipe, which we’ve modified by adding dried cranberries and walnuts. And, if you’ve used our rye bread recipe and found it too sticky, we’ve made changes to that post to make it easier to handle.
Since the only difference is the addition of a few items, we’ll just show you how we work them into the bread. We saw this technique in Bien Cuit, by Zachary Golper, and it makes it easy.
Naturally, if you prefer another type of bread, go for it. Or, if you make differing amounts of dough, just scale the add-ins up or down. We generally use 75 g (about 3 ounces) of add-ins for every 700-750g (1 1/2 pounds of dough).
Procedure in detail:
Again, refer to Easy Rye Bread for the details of making the dough. Once you have it, and it’s gone through the first rise, follow these steps.
Spread dough. Turn out the dough onto a work surface dusted with flour. When you turn out the dough, try to turn it over so that the top of the dough (with the gluten coat) is touching the floured surface and the sticky side (where the dough touched the bowl) is facing up. Spread out the dough into a large rectangle. Make it large, about 20 inches on a side.
Sprinkle with add-ins. Spread the walnuts and cranberries evenly across the surface. If you don’t have space between the add-ins, either you didn’t stretch the dough enough, or you have too many.
Roll dough. Working from the bottom towards the top, tightly roll the dough into a log. Feel free to press/squish the dough to even out the add-ins as needed. Now the add-ins should be in a spiral of bread dough, somewhat like a cinnamon roll, but, instead, a walnut/cranberry roll.
Fold in thirds. Making sure the seam side is up, take one end of the dough log and fold it about 1/3 of the way over the log. Fold the other end over the first, making a funny- shaped lump of dough.
Second rise. Place the dough back into the bowl, cover, and let rise for the second time. From here on out, you can follow the instructions in the Easy Rye Bread recipe.
We like this technique of quickly and efficiently incorporating add-ins. Prior to discovering this technique, we would basically try to knead them into the dough, which always seemed to result in a large cluster of mix-ins, or in the mix-ins tearing through the gluten coat as we worked the dough. Neither happens if you work them in using this technique. And, if you’re wondering, the combination of cranberries, walnuts, and rye is wonderful. Five stars for the technique.