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Cranberry Oat Bread/Cinnamon Rolls

February 12, 2012

I love being able to take a basic recipe and mess around with it a bit to create something new.  I’ve been tossing all sorts of things into my bread bowl along with the basic flour, salt, yeast and water and have been overly pleased with the results.  A favorite of my family’s has become Cranberry Oat Bread.  Rolled up into cinnamon rolls or baked into a loaf for a turkey sandwich or just toasted up with butter, it’s tasty no matter which way it’s prepared!

I’m crediting this to Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day (I’m pretty sure I’ve suggested you buy the book, it’s great!  Plus I sometimes give poor instructions and the book breaks down the method into really clear easy steps) but I’ll also credit my imagination for all the extra’s added.

Before we go ahead with the bread I’d like to take a time out and talk about yeast.  My brother called from the grocery store the other day asking what type of yeast to buy as there are a lot of choose from…traditional active dry yeast, instant quick rise, bread machine yeast…you can purchase it in little packets and in larger jars.  I used to always buy Instant or “quick rise” yeast, I was afraid of traditional yeast and mixing with just the right temperature liquid and waiting for it bubble up and look active before I added any other ingredients.  These recipes are really forgiving!  I now only purchase regular/traditional active dry yeast in a large package from costco (I use a lot of it) I divide it up into jars and store one in the fridge and the rest in the freezer until I’m ready to use it.   There’s no need to proof the yeast before you start, it just gets mixed right in with the dry or wet ingredients and you’re good to go.  I’ve not had a batch fail on me yet!  Clear as mud right!??!

I’m going to give you a few variations here, beginning with bread:

Cranberry Oat Bread -makes 3 good sized loaves, can easily be halved

  • 6 cups all purpose flour (feel free to sub 1 cup of whole wheat flour for 1 cup of all purpose.  I chose to do this in the cinni buns and photos that follow, the above loaf is made with AP flour)
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • Approx 1 cup other goodies (totally optional, to the cinni buns and photos below, I added a combination of chia seed, ground flax, hemp hearts and wheat bran)
  • 1 1/2 tbsp yeast
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 2 tbsp light brown sugar
  • 2 tsp cinnamon (or to taste)
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • about 3 cups-31/2 cups lukewarm water

Get out a large lidded bowl or container.

Stir together all of the dry ingredients.

Add the water and use a wooden spoon to stir it all together.  Once it gets tough to stir, use clean wet hand(s) to mix the dough until no dry spots remain.  You should have a fairly slack, wet looking dough.  If I feel like the dough needs more water, I just use my hands to work a little bit more in.  Cover the container and let the dough rise for about 2 hours on the counter.

Now that the dough’s risen, it can be baked right away or left covered in the fridge for a week.

I seem to have better results with dough that’s been chilled.  It’s more difficult to form into a loaf when it’s cold but it seems to get a better rise for me.  Perfecting this might take some practice and you’ll find the method that you prefer the best!

Remove dough from the fridge and dust the top with flour.  Grab the dough, lifting a portion from the bowl and cut with a serrated knife.  You should have about 1/3 of the dough.

Dust the piece with more flour, and working quite quickly shape it into a ball by stretching the surface of the dough around to the bottom on all four sides, rotating a quarter turn as you go.  Pinch to seal the bottoms and then shape the dough by gently rolling into a large oval.  I like to flatten mine out a bit as well.  Place on a piece or parchment sprinkled with cornmeal.

Cover with a tea towel and set aside to rise.

Allow the bread to rest for 1 hour (or 40 minutes if you’ve not refrigerated the dough)  It may not rise very much during the resting period but will expand a lot in th oven.

20 minutes prior to baking, heat the oven up to 450.   Have the baking stone on the lowest rack of the oven.  If you don’t have a baking stone, flip a cookie sheet upside down and let it heat up in the oven…this way you can slide the bread right onto a hot surface.

Give the rested dough a liberal dusting of flour and use a serrated knife to make slashes across the top of the bread  about 1/4″ to a 1/2″ deep.

Slide the bread (parchment and all) onto the hot baking stone or pan.

Bake for 30-40 minutes or until the crust is a beautiful golden brown.  Tap the excess flour off of the top and allow to cool before serving.

This dough also makes for a great cinnamon roll, roll out your desired amount of dough, schmear with softened butter and evenly sprinkle brown sugar and cinnamon.

Roll, slice, place in a greased pan and set aside to rise, covered for about 1 hour.

Bake 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes.

Enjoy!

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