This cranberry sourdough bread is the perfect fall treat. The combination of tangy sourdough and sweet cranberries is sure to please everyone at your table.
Whole grain sourdough is a passion of mine, and considerable time and effort has been spent perfecting the process to create beautiful, fluffy, and nutritious loaves. Whole grains provide so much more fiber, vitamins, and minerals over breads made with refined grains. I also love to find ways to take this incredibly healthy fermented food and adapt it for the seasons, as I did here with this Cranberry Sourdough Bread!
As we enter into fall, we are also entering into new seasonal flavors to shift the palate of our meals, one such food being… cranberries! This cranberry sourdough bread is the perfect way to enjoy the tartness of cranberries alongside any meal, or even on its own as a delicious snack.
This cranberry sourdough bread recipe is similar to my 100% Whole Wheat Sourdough Bread recipe with a few tweaks:
- It does not use diastatic malt powder (it’s not really necessary, and most people don’t have it on hand).
- I have reduced the hydration by 5% to give more structure for the bread to support the inclusions of cranberries and orange zest.
- I have added orange juice in place for some of the water to give the dough a tinge of sweetness (note: this bread does not have added sugar outside of the little bit of juice and whatever may be in the brand of dried cranberries you bought, so it should not be considered a sweet bread). It is perfect to go with a savory meal or a sweet spread–whatever you would prefer!
Cranberry orange is one of my favorite fall flavor combinations, and this loaf would be perfect to slice and share at Thanksgiving or to enjoy for a weekend breakfast at any time during the year!
Check out my video below to see the entire process for this bread, start to finish.
- 2 oranges (using the zest plus the juice)
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries (about 80 grams)
- 500 grams white whole wheat flour
- 100 grams starter* (active or unfed starter will work! Either will work as long as the discard is coming from a healthy starter, not a neglected one)
- 350 grams water
- 12 grams salt
Do I Need A Mixer?
No, this bread does not require a mixer! We will stir it together by hand in just a minute or two, then use stretches and folds to develop the gluten structure. My personal experience is that whole grain bread is less dense when the dough is handled more gently, as we do in this recipe with the stretches and folds instead of a typical kneading process.
How To Make Cranberry Sourdough Bread
- Cover your dried cranberries with warm water and set aside for 30 minutes. The water will partially rehydrate the cranberries so that they don’t pull too much moisture out of the bread dough.
- Using a zester, zest your oranges until you have about one tablespoon of zest.
- Cut the oranges in half and juice them. You need 50 grams of fresh juice.
- Add all of your ingredients except the cranberries and orange zest to your mixing bowl. Start with the 500 grams of white whole wheat flour, followed by 100 grams of starter, 50 grams of orange juice, 350 grams of water, and 12 grams of salt. Mix until thoroughly combined, then let the dough sit for 30 minutes. It may be a sticky mess right now. That’s just fine! It will be easier to work with after the 30 minute rest.
5. While the dough rests, you can drain your cranberries. Add the zest to the cranberries and stir to combine. Set aside until your 3rd set of stretches and folds.
6. Perform your first set of stretches and folds. Be careful not to stretch too hard and rip the dough. Let the dough rest another 30 minutes.
7. Perform your second set of stretches and folds. Allow dough to rest 30 minutes.
8. Perform your third set of stretches and folds. This time, you will add your cranberries and orange zest. Add about 1/4-1/3 of the cranberries with each fold. It’s okay if they’re not perfectly distributed. The dough will settle in the 30 minute rest, and then you can do your last set of stretches and folds to work on distribution.
9. Perform your final set of stretches and folds. Then remove the dough from your mixing bowl and transfer to a clear, straight-sided container so you can more easily monitor the bulk fermentation.
10. Wet your hand and press down on the top of the dough to flatten it. Using an expo marker, draw a line at the top of the dough. Using a ruler or tape measure, measure the height (this is why a straight sided container is important, or using a large liquid measuring cup with volume markers). This recipe assumes a 75 degree dough temperature, and we will be aiming for a 50% rise.
11. When the dough is done fermenting (mine took about 6 hours), turn it out onto a clean surface and do a pre-shape. I simply do some easy stretches and folds to make it a ball, use a bench scraper to flip it over, and then do a couple tuck & rolls to create a symmetrical shape. Let it rest 20 minutes.
12. To do the final shape, you can use a bench scraper to help you pick up the dough and flip it over. Using your hands, press it into a rectangle. Be careful when shaping so your cranberries don’t burst through the dough and fall out. Decide if you want to make a boule or batard and shape accordingly. Check out my video to see how I shape mine if you need some help.
13. Place the dough smooth-side down in the banneton. Pinch the bottom together to create more surface tension. Cover and place in the fridge for a cold proof.
14. Proof in the fridge for 8-48 hours.
15. When ready to bake, place your baking vessel into your cold oven. (I use the stone oval baker from Pampered Chef–Use what you have, but make sure it has a lid. Dutch ovens can burn the bottoms of bread, so if you use one, use a baking sheet on the bottom rack of the oven to help diffuse the heat). Pre-heat the oven to 450 degrees.
16. When the oven is pre-heated, remove the dough from the fridge. Gently turn it out of the banneton onto some parchment paper or a dough sling so the smooth side is now on top. Grab your dough lame (or a knife) and score your loaf as desired.
17. Remove your baker from the hot oven. Holding the parchment paper, carefully lower the dough into the baking vessel.
18. Grab a spray bottle of water and give your dough about 10 sprays to generate steam. Quickly place the lid. Put the bread dough in the oven at 450 degrees, then set your time for 30 minutes.
19. After 30 minutes, remove the lid from your baker. Keep bread in the oven, but lower the heat to 425, and then bake for another 12-15 more minutes to brown the crust.
10. Remove bread from oven and allow to cool until it reaches room temperature.
How To Eat Cranberry Sourdough Bread
This bread can be enjoyed as is for a delicious snack! It also makes a great side for a savory beef stew. It can be toasted and spread with melted butter. It would even make a great bread for turkey sandwiches!
What if I Don’t Have a Sourdough Starter?
If you want cranberry bread but don’t have a sourdough starter, try our Cranberry Wild Rice yeast bread recipe!
Other Fall Recipes
Want to try some other fall baking recipes? Here are some of our favorites!
Cranberry Sourdough Bread
- 1 Mixing Bowl
- 1 Rubber Spatula
- 1 Citrus Zester
- 1 Handheld Citrus Squeezer optional–can also hand squeeze
- 1 Baking Scale
- 1 Bench Scraper
- 1 Banneton
- 1 Baking Vessel such as clay/stone baker, dutch oven, etc
- 1 Spray Bottle with water
- 2 medium Oranges or one large–need zest and 50g juice
- 500 grams Whole Grain Hard White Wheat Flour such as King Arthur's White Whole Wheat
- 350 grams Water
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries
- 100 grams Sourdough Starter Fed and brought to peak, OR discard. See notes
- 12 grams Salt
- Take your 1/2 cup dried cranberries and cover them with warm water to partially rehydrate. Set aside for 30 minutes.
- Take your 2 oranges and zest them until you get around 1 packed tablespoon of orange zest. Set aside.
- Slice your oranges in half and juice them. You will need 50 grams of fresh orange juice for the bread.
- Into a mixing bowl, weigh out 500 grams of hard white wheat flour. Add your 100 grams of sourdough starter, 350 grams of water, 50 grams of orange juice, and 12 grams of salt. Stir to combine thoroughly. Let rest for 30 minutes.
- Drain your cranberries. Stir your orange zest into the drained cranberries and set aside.
- Complete your first set of stretches and folds. Let dough rest 30 minutes. You will do 4 sets total, 30 minutes rest in between each set.
- Complete your second set of stretches & folds. Let dough rest 30 minutes.
- On your third set of stretches and folds, you will add your cranberries and orange zest. Add 1/4-1/3 of the cranberries with each fold. Stretch the dough and fold over top of the cranberries. After 3-4 folds, all of your cranberries should be folded into your dough. The dough will feel stiff–allow it to relax 30 minutes.
- Complete your last set of stretches and folds. The dough will be tight–do your best, do not tear the dough. Just work to evenly distribute the cranberries.
- Move your dough to a clear, straight sided container. Wet your hand and press down on the top to flatten the dough as much as possible. Using a dry erase marker or piece of tape, mark the top of your dough. Measure your dough height and add 50% to that measurement–make a mark at that number. That will be the target rise you are aiming for. Try to keep your dough around 75 degrees for this rise. If your dough is warmer than 75 degrees, you may only want to let it rise 30-40%. If it's cooler than 75 degrees, you may want to have it rise even more to 75%, or even a full 100% if it's very cool.
- Cover your dough and allow it to bulk ferment until it reaches your designated rise mark. This may take anywhere from 4-12 hours depending on the temperature of your dough and your target rise percentage. For my dough at 75 degrees, it is usually 5-6 hours.
- When your bulk fermentation is complete, turn your dough out onto a clean surface to do a pre-shape. I just use stretches and folds to make a ball. Let it sit 20 minutes to rest.
- Turn your dough over and lightly flatten the dough into a rectangle. Decide if you want to shape into a boule or batard. Shape your dough as desired. Watch my video if you'd like a demonstration for how I do it.
- Place the dough upside down in the banneton. Cover and place in your fridge overnight (or for anywhere from 8-48 hours).
- When ready to bake, put your baking vessel with lid in the oven. Pre-heat your oven to 450 degrees.
- When the oven is pre-heated, remove the dough from the fridge. Turn out onto a piece of parchment or a dough sling. Score your loaf as desired.
- Remove the baking vessel from the oven. Take off the lid and carefully place your dough inside. Using your spray bottle, give the top of your dough about 10 sprays to generate steam. Quickly replace the lid to your baker, then place in the oven.
- Bake at 450 for 30 minutes.
- After 30 minutes, remove the lid from your baker. Keep your dough in the oven. Lower the heat to 425 and bake an additional 12-15 minutes to brown the crust.
- Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack. Let dough cool down to room temperature before slicing.