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Sourdough Bread with Dried Cranberries


Harvest Bread

Harvest Bread


This sourdough bread is a fun way to celebrate Thanksgiving in every corner of the world. Whole grain soakers, dried cranberries and bread flour make a light loaf that is loaded with good stuff. This loaf takes two days to make and is great for breakfast toasting, too.

Makes 2.2 pounds of dough for two, one pound loaves or one large loaf.

See end of recipe for whole wheat version!

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Prep Time: 1 hour

Cook Time: 35 minutes

Overnight soaker plus rise: 17 hours

Total Time: 18 hours, 35 minutes

Yield: 2 - one pound loaves


  • ***Grain Soaker***
  • 3 T. (35 g.) rye chops (you can grind them in a coffee mill)
  • 3 T. (35 g. cracked wheat
  • 5 tsp. (20 g.) polenta
  • Generous 1/4 c. (63 g.) water
  • ***Cranberry Soaker***
  • 1/3 c. (50 g.) dried cranberries
  • 2 tsp. (10 g.) orange juice
  • ***Overnight Levain (Sponge)***
  • 3/4 c. (94 g.) bread flour
  • 1/4 c. (47 g.) water
  • 2 tsp. stiff levain (see Note) OR liquid starter culture and a teaspoon extra flour
  • ***Final Dough***
  • 2 c. + 2 T. (266 g.) bread flour
  • 5 T. (37 g.) rye flour
  • 15 T. (218 g.) water (almost 1 cup)
  • 1 1/2 tsp. (10 g.) salt
  • 1/2 tsp. (2 g.) instant yeast
  • 1 tsp. (9 g.) honey)
  • 2 tsp. (13 g.) orange juice
  • All of the overnight levain
  • All of the grain soaker
  • All of the cranberry soaker
  • 1/2 c. (83 g.) cooked wild rice



What is a levain? A levain (French for the "leaven" meaning a rising agent) is a sourdough or yeast sponge. Here, a "stiff levain" means a sourdough starter that has been grown with twice as much flour as water, by weight. If you have 2 ounces of water, you would mix 4 ounces of flour into a paste. The sourdough is either allowed to grow naturally, which takes about 10 days, or is added to this stiff mixture from a live, growing culture.

To make a stiff levain for this recipe, mix 2 ounces of water (about 1/4 cup) with 2 teaspoons of an active sourdough culture and 4 ounces of flour (about 1 cup). Let that stand for 12 hours at room temperature, wrapped so it will not dry out. Then break off 1/2 ounce for this recipe.

If the above method seems like a waste of flour, try this cheater method: Renew your liquid sourdough culture and let it bubble up. Use about 2 teaspoons of this culture in the overnight levain directly. Even though it has more water, in small batch home baking you will not notice a difference.

The Day Before Baking

Make the grain soaker by mixing all ingredients in a bowl.

Make the cranberry soaker by chopping the dried cranberries and mix with the orange juice in another small bowl.

Make the final levain (I like to call it a sponge) by mixing all the ingredients until smooth in a third bowl.

Cover all three bowls and leave for about 12 hours (ranging 8 to 16 hours) at room temperature.

The Day of Baking

Begin final dough 4 1/2 hours before bread is to be placed in oven or about 5 hours before bread emerges from oven.

Make the final dough by mixing together the water, bread flour, rye flour, salt, honey, yeast and the levain (sponge) from the day before. Mix for four minutes on lowest speed with a dough hook and about 4 minutes on the second lowest speed, until dough is smooth. It will still feel sticky.

Turn the mixer back to the first speed and add the cranberries, the grain soaker and wild rice and mix for 2 - 3 minutes, until well incorporated.

Turn out onto a lightly floured board and knead for a minute or two, adjusting the flour or water as necessary. The dough should be somewhat soft but not sticky. Form into a ball and place in a lightly oiled bowl for bulk fermentation. Let rise for 2 hours at warm room temperature (75°F), folding the dough once after 1 hour.

Working on a lightly floured board, divide the dough in two pieces and form the pieces into balls. Let them rest on the counter for about 25 minutes. Shape into long batards (you can also leave as balls, or boules, if you wish).

Place top-side down on parchment paper or linen dusted with rye flour.

Proof for 1 hour and 30 minutes, or until doubled in bulk.

30 - 60 minutes before baking, prepare the oven for steam.

Turn floured side up and score with a knife or razor blade if you wish. Bake at 440°F for 35 to 40 minutes, or until internal bread temperature is above 195°F.

Allow to cool before slicing.

Like this bread but want a whole wheat version?

Try this:
Along with the soakers above, make an overnight flour soaker with 10 grams of salt, 266 grams of whole wheat flour and 243 grams of water, maybe more, depending on how dry your flour is. It should form a stiff ball. Wrap it in plastic and let it rest on the counter overnight.

For your levain, or sponge, use whole wheat flour, too. You will add a teaspoon or two more water.

On the day of baking. dissolve the 1/2 teaspoon of yeast in the orange juice, then mix the large soaker with the levain, honey and orange juice together and proceed as above, mixing in the cranberries, grains and wild rice last. Adjust the flour. Allow to rise for at least 2 hours with no punch or fold.

Turn out onto a board, cut into two pieces and shape into round boules. Place in a proofing basket lined with a floured cloth. Allow to rise 1 1/2 hours or until the loaves are larger than before.

Heat oven and bake as above.

See image

This recipe was adapted from The Bread Bakers Guild of America

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