Cranberry Pistachio Loaf with Ginger, Cinnamon and Fennel

Sometimes when I am dreaming up new recipes, I like to consider the time of day I want to enjoy a particular loaf and let that guide the flavor selections. For this loaf, I wanted something I could eat in the morning alongside my coffee or chai tea. I wanted a loaf that would serve as a snack in itself, and that would be a great vessel for nut butters, jams and good local honey.

This cranberry pistachio loaf with aromatic fennel, ginger and cinnamon really hit the spot. It’s hearty, slightly sweet, and chocked full of energizing pistachios and cranberries. The slight fennel notes are really elevated after the bread is toasted.This bread could also serve as an unconventional selection for savory purposes as well: I’m seeing a sandwich made with brie and arugula, prosciutto and a drizzle of organic olive oil. But on its own it a smear of butter and a little creamed honey, it’s darn tasty.

Your starter will need to be very active and ready to bake with for this recipe to work out well, so make sure that it is either passing the float test, and/or doubling within 3-6 hours after feeding. Don't have a sourdough starter yet? Check out our free online course.

This is a no-knead method that doesn’t require any expensive equipment: no commercial grade mixer, no proofing oven. We’ll be using the same stretch and fold method I teach in our video course.

Recommend equipment that I'll use here are:

- Large glass, metal, or plastic mixing bowl

- Kitchen scale

- Aluminum foil, plastic wrap or a snug-fitting cover for your bowl

- Kitchen knife or bench knife/bench scraper for shaping

- Lame or sharp knife for scoring

- 5 quart cast iron dutch oven with lid

- Cooling rack

Ingredients:

450g water

75g starter

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp powdered ginger

1/2 tsp fennel seeds

50g cranberries, soaked

500g AP flour

75g whole wheat flour

50g pistachios

20g salt


If you haven't watched the video lectures that will detail each of these steps and you are new to sourdough baking, I recommend checking it out before starting this recipe.

Method:

  1. Start by weighing out the water into your mixing bowl
  2. Add your active sourdough starter and break it up into the water with your hands
  3. Add your all-purpose and whole wheat flours
  4. Mix together by hand or with a spatula until the flour is completely hydrated. There’s no need to do a lot of mixing at this stage - just enough to bring the dough together
  5. Let the dough rest with your cover on the bowl for 30 minutes-1 hour. This is the autolyse stage where your dough will develop more sweetness and better gluten strength without the salt being added
  6. Dissolve salt in a little bit of water and pour over the top of your dough. Mix the salt in by hand as evenly and thoroughly as you can to prevent salt spots from forming
  7. Once the salt is fully incorporated, pick up your dough and drizzle a little oil in the bowl. This will make the stretching and folding easier and make getting the dough out of the bowl easier as well. Add your pistachios, cranberries, and spices.
  8. Give the dough its first stretch and fold
  9. Stretch and fold the dough every half an hour for the next two hours for a total of 5 folds (counting the first one after the salt is added). Be sure to keep the bowl covered between folding to prevent a crust from forming on the surface
  10. Proof dough at room temperature (68-75 degrees is preferable) for 10-12 hours or until dough has risen substantially
  11. You may bake at this time if you desire, or you can refrigerate your dough for a cold proofing for an additional 12-24 hours. This will lead to a deeper fermented flavor and make shaping easier as well
  12. Once proofed, divide dough into two equal pieces on a floured work surface
  13. Preshape each loaf and let them rest on a floured surface for 15-20 minutes. Preheat your oven with the cast iron dutch oven and its lid inside to 450 degrees F
  14. Cover one of your preshaped doughs with a clean towel. Shape the other into a boule or batard using your kitchen knife or bench knife to tuck in the bottom.
  15. Remove cast iron dutch oven and sprinkle a liberal layer of semolina flour on the bottom
  16. Score your shaped loaf according to your preferences and gently deposit the loaf into the dutch oven
  17. Place the lid back on your dutch oven and bake at 450 degrees F for 30 minutes
  18. Remove lid after 30 minutes and decrease baking temperature to 420 degrees F
  19. Continue baking for an additional 30-40 minutes until golden brown
  20. Remove from dutch oven and place on cooling rack