Bread-xperiment: Orange Cranberry Pecan

Last night I baked an experimental loaf of Orange Cranberry Pecan bread in the bread machine. I say experimental because the machine’s been temperamental lately, causing most loaves to rise too fast and then fall while baking. Knowing that the acid in orange juice can have an adverse effect on yeast, I wasn’t too sanguine about the fate of the loaf. But, surprisingly, it came out pretty good with only a slight fall in the top and that was mostly caused by the turn-out.

The loaf was quite tart–honey rather than sugar in this recipe should have resulted in more residual sweetness, but either my orange juice was very tart or the 2 Tbs of honey wasn’t really enough to offset the tartness. However, the loaf is very tasty.

And it is utterly amazing with a slice of Manchego cheese on top. NOM!

For those of you who are interested in this sort of thing, here’s the recipe for a 1.5 lb loaf baked on the “basic” or “white bread” cycle. I cribbed and adapted from three or four other recipes in the bread machine book and online:

1 1/8 Cups no-pulp orange juice (I used a local organic brand)
2 Tablespoons of vegetable oil (not olive oil, Mr. Kat–bleh!)
2 Tablespoons of honey (I use a locally gathered raw honey, ’cause it’s tasty–and local)
3 Cups of bread flour (in my case King Arthur unbleached white bread flour)
scant 1/2 Teaspoon ground cinnamon (nothing special here–didn’t have sticks to grind up)
1 Teaspoon salt (Morton’s sea salt in my case)
1 Tablespoon fresh grated orange zest (I used the zest of one whole Mineola Tangelo and let Mr. Kat eat the rest of the tangelo when I was done zesting it with a microplane)
2 1/4 Teaspoons of regular bread yeast or 1 1/2 teaspoons of quick rise yeast (I used Red Star regular yeast)
1/3 cup chopped pecans (I chopped my own)
2/3 cup chopped dried cranberries (you don’t have to chop, but they mix easier)

Zest the orange and set zest aside. Eat the freaky skinless orange. Wash up.

Toss the pecans and cranberries together in a small bowl and set aside for the kneading cycle (the tossing makes the cranberries less sticky and provides a more even distribution of both additives, since they go in together, rather than one after the other.)

Warm the orange juice to about 80-degrees Fahrenheit. Pour into bread machine pan.
Add the rest of the ingredients except the yeast and the cranberry and nut mixture. Make sure the bread-to-be is evenly distributed in the pan not in a lump in the middle. You may need to break up lumps of zest with your clean fingers. Sprinkle the yeast on top of the other dry ingredients.

Start the bread on the “basic” or “white” cycle for a 1.5-pound loaf. If your machine has a “fruit” or “additive” indicator, turn that on. Let the machine do the rest….

When the “add stuff” alarm goes off, shake in the cranberries and pecans a bit at a time to make sure the bits are getting kneaded throughout the loaf, not forming one big lump. Leave the machine alone until it’s done baking.

Turn out and let cool. Serve with butter or manchego cheese. NUM!

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About Kat Richardson

Writer, editor, eccentric pain in the tail, bestselling author of the Greywalker novels.
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