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Fruit and nut filled (almost no-knead) Harvest Bread
No mixer required and very little kneading
This Harvest Bread is one of the easiest bread recipes you’ll ever make! It comes out of the oven golden brown and crusty on the outside with a soft and chewy middle, and so darn delicious!
This homemade loaf is loaded with flavor from the dried cranberries, nuts, golden raisins, orange juice and orange zest. It’s not a sweet bread but you’ll enjoy little pops of chewy sweetness from the cranberries and raisins in every bite.
Ingredients needed to make Harvest Bread:
- dried cranberries
- golden raisins
- zest and juice from 1 large orange
- all-purpose flour – or bread flour works well too
- table salt
- instant or rapid-rise yeast
- pecans or walnuts – occasionally walnuts can cause the bread to have a slight purple hue. This does not affect the flavor of the loaf.
- water – tepid or room temperature
- vegetable cooking spray
- large Dutch oven with lid, or a clay baker
- firm spatula or wooden spoon
- parchment paper
- plastic wrap
- large mixing bowl
- instant-read thermometer
How to make easy homemade Harvest Bread:
This is a two day project with very little hands on time.
- First, combine the cranberries, raisins and fresh orange juice in a small bowl. Cover and microwave then set aside to soften for 15 minutes.
- Drain the fruit, reserving the soaking liquid. Add enough tepid water to make 1 1/2 cups.
- Whisk together the flour and salt. TIP: You can actually kill yeast by mixing it directly with salt. That’s why I always mix the flour and salt together first, then add the yeast. Adding yeast directly to salt may cause it to deactivate or at the very least slow the rise time. Dilute salt by mixing with flour first!
- Next add the yeast, orange zest, nuts and drained fruit. Stir to combine. Add the water mixture and stir with a wooden spoon or firm spatula until all flour is incorporated. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave at room temperature (about 70 degrees F is best) for at least 12 hours or up to 20 hours.
Day 2 – Ready to bake:
- Cut a piece of parchment paper to a 12 inch square. Lay the parchment on a countertop and lightly coat with vegetable cooking spray.
- Turn the dough out onto a well floured, clean work surface. Sprinkle the top of the dough with more flour. Stretch a portion of the dough skyward, then fold over the top of the remaining dough. Turn the dough and repeat a few times, but take care to not over-work.
- Gently shape the dough into a ball by pulling the edges toward the middle and pinch together to seal. Transfer the dough, seam side down, to the prepared parchment. Lightly coat the surface of the dough with vegetable cooking spray.
- Cover the dough with plastic wrap and transfer to a warm, draft-free location. Let the dough rise until doubled in size, about 2 hours.
- Transfer the dough to a large Dutch oven. Place the lid on top and put in a cold oven. Turn the oven on to 425F and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the lid and continue baking until the bread is dark golden brown and the internal temperature reaches 205 to 210 F on an instant-read thermometer.
- Allow the bread to cool on a wire rack before slicing.
TIP: For a good rise, place the dough in a warm location, especially for the second rise. My house is cold in the winter so I use my microwave as a proofing oven. The bread is not exposed to cold drafts and will rise a bit easier. If your house is cold, like mine, you may need a longer second rise.
Can you make this bread without a Dutch oven?
Using a covered Dutch oven to bake this bread is key to achieving a crispy crust. This method traps moisture from the dough and creates steam. It may seem counterintuitive, but steam is what creates that amazing crust.
However, if you don’t have a covered Dutch oven or clay-style baker, you can still make this bread with great results. Form the bread and place on a good quality, heavy weight, light-colored baking pan. Preheat the oven to 450F for at least 30-minutes. Place a pie pan with 1-inch of hot water on the bottom of the oven just before baking the bread.
Bake the bread uncovered until golden brown and done all the way through. The loaf should sound hollow when tapped on the bottom. If it’s browning too quickly, tent with foil.
Can you freeze Harvest Bread?
Harvest Bread freezes well for up to 30 days. Thaw at room temperature or overnight in the refrigerator.
While Harvest Bread is best eaten the day it’s made, it keeps well at room temperature for up to 3 days sealed in an airtight container.
Check out that amazing hole-filled structure!
Bread nerds are happy to tell you how important it is to have a lot of webbing and irregular sized holes in the structure of the bread. It’s also essential to have a crispy crust that’s been baked to dark golden brown perfection.
With very little effort, this loaf achieves all that and delivers amazing flavor, too!
Our favorite ways to serve this terrific Harvest Bread
- Thick sliced and slathered with sweet, creamy butter is a perfect.
- Smear on a little jam or honey and serve with a cup of tea.
- This bread also toasts very well. Brown one side or two, under the broiler or in the toaster, it’s all good!
- Use Harvest Bread to make the best grilled cheese sandwich, ever!
- Our absolute favorite way to enjoy Harvest Bread is with sliced turkey, cheese, lettuce and tomato. Smear a little mayo or honey mustard on the bread to glue it all together. This is a fantastic sandwich you’ll want to make again and again.
- And finally, another terrific sandwich combo includes thin sliced apples, deli turkey, cheese and hot pepper jelly. Brown in a skillet like a grilled cheese, or press like a Panini and serve. Wow!
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- Covered large Dutch oven
- 1 cup dried cranberries (4 1/2 oz or 130g)
- ¾ cup golden raisins (4oz or 100g)
- zest and juice from 1 orange
- 3 ⅓ cups all-purpose flour, or bread flour (445g)
- 1 ½ teaspoons salt
- ½ teaspoon instant or rapid-rise yeast
- ½ cup chopped pecans or walnuts (50g)
- tepid water
- Combine the cranberries, raisins and orange juice in a small bowl. Cover and microwave until steaming, about 1 minute. Set aside until softened, about 15 minutes. Drain the cranberries reserving the orange juice. Add enough room temperature water to the soaking liquid to measure 1 ½ cups.
- In a large bowl whisk together the flour and salt. Add the yeast, orange zest, cranberries, raisins and nuts. Stir to combine. Add the water and stir with a firm spatula or wooden spoon until all flour is incorporated.
- Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave at room temperature (about 70°F) for at least 12 or up to 20 hours. The dough is ready when it’s well risen and the surface is a little bubbly.
- Cut a piece of parchment paper to a 12 by 12 square. Lay the parchment on a countertop and lightly coat with vegetable cooking spray.
- Turn the dough out onto a well floured, clean work surface. Sprinkle the top of the dough with more flour. Stretch the dough skyward and fold it over a few times. Don’t overwork the dough.
- Gently shape the dough into a ball by pulling the edges toward the middle. Transfer the dough, seam side down, to the middle of the prepared parchment. Lightly coat the surface of the dough with vegetable cooking spray.
- Lift the dough using the four corners of the parchment and lower it into a large Dutch oven. Cover lightly with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm location until the dough has doubled in size, about 2 hours. Test by gently pressing a finger or knuckle into the dough. If a slight indentation remains, it’s ready.
- Adjust the oven rack to the middle position. Remove the plastic wrap and discard. Lightly dust the top of the dough with flour. Cut a 6-inch long, ½-inch deep slit along the top of the dough. Place the lid on the Dutch oven and put in the cold oven.
- Heat the oven to 450°F and bake the bread for 30 minutes. Start the timer as soon as you put the dough in the cold oven.
- Remove the lid and continue baking for 25 to 35 minutes longer or until the bread is deep golden brown and the internal temperature registers 205° to 210°F on an instant-read thermometer. Tent with foil if needed to prevent over-browning.
- Remove from the pot and transfer to a wire rack. Cool completely before slicing.
- Bread is best eaten the day it’s made but will keep at room temperature for several days, well wrapped. Freeze for longer storage.
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