My mother was a single mom with four kids and every now and then she needed a break from us. I blame my brothers they were hellions. I love you, bruders, but you know it’s true. So, every now and then we would get to spend the weekend with Oma and Opa. I remember waking up to the smell of fresh baking. Oma slicing us a piece of warm bread fresh from the oven. The butter melting into a pool of golden sunshine. There really was nothing like my Oma’s bread. It was airy and light and baked to golden perfection.
Yea, mine is never like that, but I keep trying. It’s like golf to me. One time I made that perfect shot (bread) and I’m spending the rest of my life trying to duplicate it. This morning I wake up thinking about Oma’s cranberry bread and wanted to share the recipe with you. The recipe is solid. My techniques, maybe not so much. Excuse the mess and do not let that discourage you wonderful bakers from trying Oma’s bread.
In a small bowl, dissolve yeast by stirring 2 ¼ teaspoons of active dry yeast into 1/4 cup warm water that is at least 100° to 110°F. Oma never needed to check the temperature, but I have had enough failures to know I need to pull out my thermometer and make sure the water is warm enough. The temperature of the water is essential to activate the yeast. Add in 1 teaspoon sugar to proof (foam). Let stand for 10 minutes. If mixture doubles in volume, yeast is active.
In a large bowl, dissolve 5 teaspoons sugar into 1 cup lukewarm water. Add the yeast mixture, 1 cup dried cranberries, 1/2 cup chopped walnuts, 1 1/4 teaspoons salt, and 1/4 cup vegetable oil. Add 3 cups of flour one cup until the dough forms a ball and pulls away from the bowl. I have my best success when using Sir Galahad bakery flour, but all-purpose is fine. Turn onto a lightly floured board and knead dough until smooth.
You do not want to overwork the dough, or the finished bread will be stiff. This is experience talking now so listen up. But if you under knead it will not rise fully. Uuughhh! I’m like a scientist in a lab carefully measuring, checking temps, setting timers. Trust me, I seldom need to measure when I cook, but when I bake I’m all nervous and probably too careful. Oma used to say, “Just feel the dough when it’s smooth and elastic stop kneading.” That’s technically about 10 minutes.
Place dough in a greased, or buttered bowl, and turn dough to coat. Cover with a damp cloth and let double in size, about 1 hour. The perfect room temperature when working with bread is between 80° to 85°F. A good trick to use if the room is cooler, place the covered on the upper rack in the oven. Place a pan of hot steaming water on the lower rack. Bread loves humid heat.
Punch dough down. Knead for a few minutes and divide in half. Shape into loaves, and place into two greased 9×5 inch loaf pans. Allow to rise for 30 minutes, or until the dough has risen 1 inch above pans.
Bake in a preheated 350°F for 30 minutes. If the stars align and everything went right you will have a beautiful golden loaf of cranberry bread.
Let sit for 15 minutes before slicing, if you can. Let me know if you try the recipe and what you think. – Ella
• 3 cups Sir Galahad flour
• 1 1/4 cups warm water (100° to 110°F)
• 2 tablespoons sugar
• 2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
• 1 cup dried cranberries
• 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
• 1/4 cup vegetable oil
• 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
- In a large bowl, dissolve the yeast in 1/4 cup warm water. Add in 1 teaspoon sugar to proof. Let stand for 10 minutes. If mixture doubles in volume, yeast is active.
- Mix in the remaining sugar and water, the cranberries, walnuts, salt, and oil into the yeast mixture. Add the flour one cup at a time until dough forms a ball and pulls away from the bowl. Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth.
- Place in a greased, or buttered bowl, and turn dough to coat. Cover with a damp cloth. Allow to rise until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.
- Punch dough down. Knead for a few minutes and shape into a loaf. Place into a greased 9×5 inch loaf pan. Allow to rise for 30 minutes, or until the dough has risen 1 inch above pans.
- Bake at 350°F for 30 minutes.