Sunday, December 16, 2007

Cranberry-Pecan Almost No-Knead Bread

December 16, 2007

My friend Mary invited Jim and me for dinner last night for some pheasant that she had been given by a hunter. I put the "pheasant" and "hunter" part out of my mind because I didn't want to think about the poor bird being shot, and accepted. I offered to bring bread, and told her I was working on this almost no-knead bread and gave her a choice among the four variations. She chose cranberry-pecan, which made me quite happy.
When we got to Doug and Mary's house, I mentioned my reservations about the dead pheasants, and Doug assured me that pheasants were extremely stupid and did not even notice when they were shot. Moreover, he said, they were so moronic that they couldn't even make it through a Minnesota winter. They would freeze to death, he claimed, and were much better off being shot. Anyway, he added, going on the offensive, why was I being so sensitive about pheasants when I represented murderers? Well, I said, that's completely different.
The pheasant was quite good. Mary served it with a fruity, winey sauce, along with a cranberry relish and a dish of lentils, brown rice, and caramelized onions. Even though we had cranberry relish and a fruity sauce, the cranberry-pecan bread was just right with the dinner--not too much fruit at all.
Dessert was a sweet potato-candied ginger pie that Doug made himself. Men always demand (and get) so much credit when they cook, but it was good pie.

After two weeks in a row of The America's Test Kitchen No-Knead Bread 2.0, I've decided it really is an excellent recipe, and the cranberry-pecan version is just as good as the basic white bread recipe. The only difference is adding 1/3 cup each of pecans and dried cranberries with the dry ingredients. I used more--at least 1/2 cup each, because I wanted to have it bursting with the dried fruit and nuts. This time I used about 1/3 cup of sourdough starter instead of the vinegar, and it added a more complex flavor than the vinegar alone. I had to steal a bottle of beer from a party I went to Friday night in order to get the bread started on Friday night. Unfortunately for Jim, it was Miller Lite, and he drew the line at drinking the rest of that, so I have most of a bottle of Miller Lite in the refrigerator. I guess I'll have to bake another loaf of bread.


Doughadear said...

Marie, your Cranberry-Pecan bread looks too good to eat. Though of course that would not stop me.

Melinda said...

The bread is very festive fare!
The rationale for hunting pheasants is interesting!
Growing up in Oregon, hunting was a pretty normal activity. I'm not against eating meat. I'm against allowing men going out with guns. Some men with a gun, make pheasants look like geniuses!
I'm planning to the plain version of this bread tonight.

Anonymous said...

that bread looks very good, cranberries and pecans are my favourites!

Anonymous said...
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breadbasketcase said...

It didn't stop me either!

Yes, it looks very Christmas-y, doesn't it? I agree that men with small brains and big guns make a very bad combination. I'm sorry to say that some of them are my clients, although I do think that my clients are smarter than pheasants.


You're such a card.

pinknest said...

that meal sounds absolutely delicious. i love eating cranberry pecan bread turkey sandwiches!

Melinda said...

Marie, I did make the almost no knead bread. It had hard lumps in the raised dough. I couldn't knead them out so I threw it away. I will try it again on the theory I didn't mix it well enough. Hmmm. I wonder if I used the wrong vinegar and/or beer? I used cider vinegar and Heineken beer. Does that sound wrong? Let me know if you think those are the wrong ones to use or I will be repeating the mistake! Thanks.

breadbasketcase said...

Our neighborhood deli has a turkey sandwich on cranberry wild rice bread that's excellent. I think you're right--the cranberry pecan might be even better.

I also used Heineken and cider vinegar, so I don't think that could be the problem. I didn't have the lump problem, and I've made this bread three times now, so I don't have any idea. Maybe try adding a little more water when you mix it up? The dough looks pretty raggedy, so I was concerned that it wouldn't mix properly, but it did. I'm sorry it didn't work for you, but I would also abandon a bread that still had lumps in it after kneading.

Melinda said...

Certainly not your fault, Marie! Thanks for the reply. I will try it again and hopefully the dough will be lump free!

jini said...

i've enjoyed reading your blog this year marie! thank for the laughs and inspiration!
merry christmas to you and jim.

Marni said...

your photos are amazing. you make such beautiful bread!!!

breadbasketcase said...

Thanks for being such a faithful reader! I hope your holidays were happy.

Thank you--Jim gets the credit for the photographs, but I'll accept on his behalf.

Allison said...

I just finished reading your blog from start to finish. My husband got me a "bread baking" gift for the holidays, since I've been wanting to start. Your blog has been really inspirational for that.

I have a question for you, if you don't mind sharing. I am in a similar situation as you, in that it is just my husband and me living in the house (well, my dog, too, but she shouldn't eat bread). What is your method for freezing your bread, and for defrosting it? I want to make sure I do it right, so that I don't ruin perfectly good (and fresh) bread.

Thanks for your help. And thank you for providing such enjoyable reading.

Melinda said...

Hey! Where are you? Missing you a bit.

breadbasketcase said...

I hope you get hooked on bread-making--you'll love it, and your husband will too. We usually end up eating about a third of a loaf of bread the first day it's baked--often we just have bread, cheese and fruit for dinner. I think bread freezes best when it's sliced first, so I slice the rest of the loaf and put it in a zip-loc bag in the freezer. I take out a piece in the morning and make toast, so no defrosting is necessary. If you don't toast it, a piece of sliced bread thaws so quickly that you can just put it on a plate and eat it a half-hour later. Sometimes I cover it with a piece of waxed paper to make sure it doesn't dry out. If I have a whole loaf left, I wrap it in plastic wrap and then in aluminum foil. I let it thaw at room temp, still wrapped, and then unwrap it and heat it up in a preheated 200-degree oven. You'll probably find your own methods. Let me know when you start baking.

breadbasketcase said...

Patience, my child.