Maple-Glazed Cranberry Apple Loaf

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Maple-Glazed Cranberry Apple Loaf

As I stated in my introduction to my blog, I absolutely love to make bread. I am convinced that the process is healing to the soul, and will lift up the downcast spirit. It is so rewarding to stir together flour, salt, yeast, and liquid (henceforth known as The Basic Four), let the mixture sit until it rises into a beautiful airy cloud, then shape it and bake it into golden crackling loaves. The transformation is astounding.

I especially love crusty, chewy bread, and have long wanted to delve into the world of artisan bread baking, but never got around to it. The artisanal enjoyment was initiated on our first trip to Europe; ohhh, the breads and cheeses that assaulted our senses there! I still remember what our tour guide said to us as we were leaving France’s luxurious three hour gastro pleasures, and heading to Germany, the Land of Hard Work and Practicality. In a heavy, affected German accent, he pronounced, “No more creme sauces and croissants; ve vill now be entering Germany, vhere you vill get bredt and vater, and you vill be tankful!” We all roared with laughter and the phrase has stuck in our memories. And we were indeed very thankful for the chewy bread.

When a recipe for a no-knead artisan bread burst on the scene a few years ago, I was skeptical, but after reading the testimonials of soaring successes, I thought I would jump on the bandwagon and give it a try. So I watched the sale flyers and bought myself a cast iron Dutch oven to experiment with it. Oh. My. Word. I became an instant believer.

You simply stir together The Basic Four, cover it, let it sit for 12 – 24 hours on your counter, and bake it in a covered heavy baking dish in a screeching hot oven. It takes only 5 minutes to stir together, but you should allow at least an hour and a half for the baking process. If you want really detailed instructions, Simply So Good does a fantastic job of covering all the bases. I use less salt and heat the pot immediately with the oven for convenience’ sake.

To The Basic Four, I added a quarter cup of brown sugar, one teaspoon of cinnamon, half of a Zestar apple, coarsely chopped, and half a cup of dried cranberries. After baking, I brushed the top of the loaf with maple syrup immediately after removing it from the pot. Presto. Basic turns into amazing in a fraction of time. Not that basic isn’t also amazing, depending on the moment. It definitely is amazing dipped in olive oil, herbs, and balsamic mixtures.

I have tried myriad combinations, both savoury and sweet. This one was developed about a week ago when I wanted to take advantage of our fresh apple season that is happening now AND I had beautiful dried cranberries here that I picked up at Johnston’s Cranberry Marsh in Bala, Ontario. They do fantastic tours of their place. Do visit them if you have the chance sometime. We will be selling heaps of their fresh cranberries in time for Thanksgiving, since apples and cranberries are a thankworthy team. Then we freeze them until Christmas, and sell them frozen. We do fantastic tours of our farm too, by the way. It looks pretty these days with the apples waiting to be harvested.

Speaking of pretty, so is this bread. Just look at it. You can do this too.

Maple-Glazed Cranberry Apple Loaf
No-knead rules!

 

Maple-Glazed Cranberry Apple Loaf
Look at that moist spongy interior!

 

I tried out the freshly baked bread on a friend and her 4-year-old, my oldest daughter and my 1-year-old grandson. Every single one of them approved it for the blog.

IMG_20170913_102402948
Lining up for the chomp. Isn’t he absolutely adorable? Yes. Yes, he is.

 

More pictures of other breads I’ve tried…click or hover on the pictures to see the descriptions. And that’s it. I’m stopping now. My keyboard is getting wet.

TRUE STORY: I was bragging this bread up to this very same friend last winter and telling her that it’s virtually foolproof. I promised her I would supply the bread if they had us at their place for dinner that Sunday. I baked an aged cheddar, garlic and cracked pepper loaf before church, took it along in the very hot pot and let it sit in the car. Well. What a sorry, deflated, soggy loaf I presented at noon. I hadn’t baked it quite long enough and the steam created a sauna for the bread as it cooled. Breads do not like saunas after they are baked. So this apple/cranberry loaf was to redeem both the bread and my baking skills in her eyes. I still claim that it’s foolproof, but not idiotproof, apparently.

The bread should be stored in a paper bag until it’s cut, then the rest can go into plastic, but it will lose its crisp crust and simply be chewy.

Apples? I like to use a firm, sweetly tart apple for this sort of thing. The first time I used Gingergold, this time it was Zestar, next time it will be Cortland or Honeycrisp. Always, always store them in the fridge in a crisper or bag. Do not store them with pears. The apples exude ethylene gas that will over-ripen the pears in a hurry.

Maple-Glazed Cranberry Apple Loaf

Ingredients

The Basic FourIMG_20170921_094254902

  • 3 cups all-purpose or bread flour (I used half AP and half multigrain bread flours for this loaf)
  • 1/2 teaspoon fast-rising or instant yeast
  • 1 teaspoon coarse sea salt or 3/4 teaspoon regular table salt
  • 1 1/2 cups of cool tap water

Additions:

  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup brown sugar, depending how sweet you like your stuff
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 firm and tart medium apple, washed, unpeeled, and chopped in 1″ chunks
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • maple syrup for glazing the top of the loaf

Directions

Stir together all the ingredients except the maple syrup in a glass or metal bowl big enough for the dough to double in size. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and let sit on the counter for  approximately 12 – 24 hours. I often stir it together around 7:00 pm, then bake it the next morning. 

When you’re ready to start baking, turn the oven on to 450° F. Immediately put a 5-6 quart/litre cast iron or other heavy oven-proof pot in the oven. DO NOT GREASE THE PAN, or it will smoke like crazy. Let it heat for 45 minutes. Meanwhile, remove bread from the bowl with a large scraper, and turn it out onto a heavily floured pastry mat or parchment paper. Flour the top of the loaf, then using your hands or two dough scrapers, curve the sides and tuck them loosely into the bottom so that you have a nice round loaf. Lightly cover again with the plastic and let it rest while your oven is heating. 

When the oven and pot have heated for 45 minutes, remove the pot and set on a heatproof surface. Remove cover, lift up the bread with the parchment or two dough scrapers and carefully drop it into the pan. You should hear the apples sizzle from the heat. Put the cover back on top, place the pot in the oven, and bake it for 30 minutes, still at 450°. After 30 minutes, remove the cover and bake for 10 to 15 minutes until the top is deep brown. This apple version will be darker than the Basic Artisan Loaf is because of the whole grain flour and brown sugar. When it’s brown, take it out and immediately remove it from the hot pan with two sturdy lifters. Brush the top of the loaf with pure maple syrup. Cool on a wire rack. I dare you to leave it for more than 15 minutes. Chow down. It’s really good as is, but you can slather it with butter if you wish. Or Brie cheese, or maple butter, or apple butter … you name it. 

Makes 1 loaf.

 

 

7 thoughts on “Maple-Glazed Cranberry Apple Loaf

    Lorraine Frey said:
    September 21, 2017 at 12:48 pm

    Oh my this looks good!!! Even this non baker will probably try this!

    Like

      rosekmartin responded:
      September 21, 2017 at 2:38 pm

      Cool! Let me know how it works out for you.

      Like

    Howard and Barbara Bean said:
    September 21, 2017 at 2:02 pm

    Dear Rose,

    You make me hungry. Looks amazing. I will have to buy a pot before I can bake any. Does it justify buying a pot when I think I should be downsizing my cupboards and stuff???

    Barbara

    On Thu, Sep 21, 2017 at 10:42 AM, Orchard News and Chews wrote:

    > rosekmartin posted: ” As I stated in my introduction to my blog, I > absolutely love to make bread. I am convinced that the process is healing > to the soul, and will lift up the downcast spirit. It is so rewarding to > stir together flour, salt, yeast, and liquid (henceforth know” >

    Like

      rosekmartin responded:
      September 21, 2017 at 2:54 pm

      Haha, yes, I know. I’m at that point too, but I use this pot quite a lot. In the other blog, Janet lists other baking containers that have worked for people. You could check and see if you have one of those.

      Like

    Jeanene said:
    September 25, 2017 at 10:39 am

    Rose, this bread is amazing! I made it on Saturday and we could hardly quit eating it. Thanks for sharing it!

    Like

      rosekmartin responded:
      September 25, 2017 at 10:45 am

      Oh, that makes me happy, Jeanene! I love hearing feedback like this. I still remember that awesome pizza at your place too.

      Like

        Jeanene said:
        September 27, 2017 at 1:25 pm

        We’ve kept working on our pizza and it’s getting better and better–you’ll have to come back and try it again. 😀

        Like

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