Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Cranberry Almond Boule

This Cranberry Almond Boule is made with a sourdough starter boosted with just a touch of yeast for extra lift (and a shorter rising time). Packed with whole wheat, slivered almonds and @oceanspraycanada Craisins, it is a perfect blend of flavours for a lazy breakfast or paired with aged cheese as a snack.

One of the benefits of this "limbo" period I'm in - until May, anyways - is that I get the chance to go through my pantry and really take stock of what I have. There are a few things I use regularly - flour and sugar for instance - but when it comes to "additions" I very rarely dive deep into the stash I have. This is compounded by the fact that I have a wealth of fruit, nuts and seeds in the freezer as well, and like I'm sure most of your freezers, most of the "stuff" goes there to die. However, with a spot of spare time on my hands before class last week, I quickly went through at least the front portion of my freezer, coming up with a tiny handful of slivered almonds from Christmas. A brief glance at my baking shelf saw a giant bag of dried cranberries that had been recently shunted to the front of the line after mom used up the end of the other bag in salad.

Still keeping with the "use up the pantry" theme, I brought out my good ol' sourdough started from the fridge and gave it a hefty feed the night before getting going, and fed it again a few hours before making the dough in earnest. I spotted a single package of active dry yeast (again from mom's baking at Christmas) in the pantry and although it was technically expired by a few weeks I figured I'd toss it in for kicks - if anything it would just dissolve and do nothing, but as luck would have it I was pleasantly surprised that it still had activity, although slightly less robust than usual. However, combined with the bubbly wild yeast, I got a readily rising loaf that, while higher hydration than some of my other whole wheat loaves, still handled like a dream and gave me a lovely, low rising peasant loaf with a subtle tang.

Like all my peasant style loaves, I opted to bake this one on a baking stone to get the bottom nice and crusty. However, if you don't have one, no worries! It will work just as well on a standard baking sheet. I may eventually try this recipe (scaled up) in my 7-qt Staub to create a "cloche" like environment, but I need to play with the ingredient amounts first as this recipe doesn't make enough dough to warrant the huge pot I have. At any rate, this is a keeper - and with luck I'll be able to try it out with other "found things" as well, since we need the freezer room for, you guessed it - more bread!

Cranberry Almond Boule
Adapted from King Arthur
Makes 1 large boule
1 cup (227g) sourdough starter, recently fed (I fed mine about 2 hours before I started the dough)
1 1/2 cups warm water
2 tsp active dry yeast
2 tsp Kosher salt
5 cups (602g) whole wheat bread flour
1/2 cup slivered almonds
1/2 cup dried cranberries (I use the reduced sugar ones)
  1. Combine the starter, water, yeast, salt and flour in the bowl of a stand mixer or in a bowl with a sturdy wooden spoon.
  2. Knead for 10 minutes to form a smooth dough. Cover and let rest 10 minutes.
  3. Knead in the almonds and cranberries to fully incorporate.
  4. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 2 hours. 
  5. Deflate the dough gently and fold over itself one or two times.
  6. Gently shape the dough into a large round on a parchment-lined baking sheet (use a rimless one if transferring to a baking stone). 
  7. Cover and let rise until very puffy, about 1 hour. 
  8. Heat the oven to 425°F with a baking stone if possible.
  9. Slash the loaf once or twice (I used a lame to make circular slashes) and transfer to the stone or place the sheet in the oven.
  10. Bake the loaf for 35-45 minutes, until it's a very deep golden brown and tests 200F on a thermometer. 
  11. Immediately transfer to a rack to cool completely.

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