I found a sad little bag of leftover frozen cranberries in my freezer the other day. I always freeze cranberries in the fall with the best intentions of using them sometime soon, but they always seem to end up hidden under everything else. I felt bad for these cranberries and wanted them to feel loved, so I baked them into a delicious bread. If baked goods don’t say “love,” I don’t know what does…
This recipe is pretty perfect. It’s fast, simple and delicious. I found the batter to be quite thick and it kind of smothered all my cranberries to the bottom of the baking pan. I will admit I got a little sick of the time it was taking to chop each individual cranberry in half, so I kind of just started hacking them up. Bigger pieces probably would have helped with more uniform berry dispersion. Every slice did have a lot of berries, they were just clumped on the bottom, which is not the worst thing. Next time, I might try substituting some of the milk for orange juice and adding some zest to make a delicious orange cranberry bread.
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar, plus 1 tablespoon
3 eggs at room temperature
2 1/2 cups all-purpose gluten-free flour (I used Better Batter)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
10 ounces fresh cranberries, halved
2/3 cup milk, at room temperature
1/4 cup sour cream or plain Greek yogurt, at room temperature
Coarse/Raw sugar (like Sugar in the Raw), for sprinkling
Preheat your oven to 350°F. Grease well a standard (9-inches x 5-inches or slightly smaller) loaf pan and set it aside.
Beat the butter in a large bowl on medium-high speed until light and fluffy. Add the 1 cup of granulated sugar and the eggs, beating well after each addition.
In a separate, medium-size bowl, place the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt, and whisk to combine well. Place the cranberry halves in a separate, small bowl, and add a tablespoon of the dry ingredients to the cranberries, along with the remaining tablespoon of granulated sugar, and toss to coat. Set the cranberries aside.
To the large bowl with the butter and sugar mixture, add the dry ingredients, alternating with the milk and sour cream, alternating between the two and beginning and ending with the dry ingredients. The mixture will be thick but smooth. Add the cranberries and reserved sugar and dry ingredients, and mix gently into the batter until evenly distributed throughout.
Scrape the batter into the prepared pan, and smooth the top. It will fill or nearly fill the pan. Sprinkle the top lightly with coarse sugar. Place the pan in the center of the preheated oven and bake, rotating once, until golden brown on top and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean (about 1 hour). Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the pan for 20 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. Slice thickly and serve.
So, I totally cheated when I made this. I used a boxed mix. And I’m totally okay with that. A couple months ago at Whole Foods, I stumbled across a new-to-me gluten-free brand, Chebe. I’ve been obsessed ever since. They have several different mixes for bread rolls, bread sticks, pizza crust, sandwich bread, cinnamon rolls and focaccia. I’m not much of a bread person, but I absolutely love all the breads I’ve made from Chebe. Honestly, they might be some of the best breads I’ve ever had. Regardless of the mix I’ve used, the results have been light, airy and tasty.. One of the reasons I’m such a fan of these breads, is how versatile they are. The instructions have the option of mixing in cheese to the dough. I’ve always mixed in cheese, cheddar, parmesan, as long as it’s hard and melty, it seems to work.
Since I used a mix, this was super easy to make. There was also no yeast/water temperature/rising nonsense to worry about, which is another win in my book. Basically any basic dough or pizza crust recipe will work for this. It’s pretty obvious that I have a major caramelized onion problem, so I try to throw them on/in anything possibly, but lately I’ve been on a rosemary kick. This past Christmas, we got a rosemary plant Christmas tree from Trader Joe’s and it’s still alive and kicking so it would be rude not to use it (and yes, I also used part of our ‘christmas’ tree to flavor our christmas dinner (and yes, I am a Grinch.). After I made the dough, I spread it out on a parchment lined baking sheet, brushed lightly with olive oil and topped with rosemary, onions and salt. The results were delicious. I had my flat bread straight up with some balsamic and it made for an amazing combination.
(Un)Fortunately, my dogs decided that 5.30 am was an appropriate time to wake up yesterday morning. I’m the type of person, that once I’m awake, I am w i d e awake. So, instead of pretending to try to sleep, I decided to bake. I made bread! I don’t know why, but this felt like a major accomplishment. Maybe because it was my first baking adventure of the new year or maybe because there was kneading and yeast and rising; I had never done any of that before. Part of the sense of accomplishment came from how good this bread was.
The end result was good. Like, real, full of gluten, good. I can eat gluten, Mama CC cannot, and even though I don’t eat gluten often, I am still the official compare-er(?) of ‘real’ bread and gluten-free bread. I couldn’t tell the difference. This bread had a really crunchy crust, which I feel like a lot of gluten-free breads lack. The crust reminded me of the type of loaf you get in bakeries. I definitely cut the bread too soon, it was still very hot, but I was too excited to wait. The bread it self was slightly denser than ‘real’ bread, but much, much lighter than most store-bought gluten-free bread that we’ve tried. Mama CC says it’s the closest thing she has had to real bread since she found out she had Celiac, which I would call a huge endorsement. All around, this recipes was a winner!
I was a little wary of the molasses/sugar that was added to the bread. I was concerned that the bread would turn out really sweet and more dessert like than bread like. I used molasses and you couldn’t even taste it.
I know I just went on and on about how great this gluten free bread is, but if gluten isn’t an issue for you, whole wheat flour would be perfect for this recipe. The end result would be nice and earthy with a nutty walnut touch.
450g (1lb) gluten-free or whole wheat flour (I used Better Batter)
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
2 tablespoons molasses or unrefined dark muscovado sugar
50 grams (2 ounces) walnuts, chopped
2 teaspoons quick yeast/1 instant yeast packet if you are in the US
Beat the vinegar, oil, molasses if you are using it, and eggs into the milk in a jug. Put the flour, salt, sugar if you are using it, and nuts into a bowl, and stir in the yeast. Make a well in the center, and pour in the liquid from the jug. With a dinner knife, combine all the ingredients until you have a sticky dough. Turn out onto a surface you have dusted with gluten-free flour, sprinkle some on the top and knead the dough for about five minutes until it is smooth.
Lightly grease a baking tin, and formt the dough into a rough sausage shape, placing in the tin. Cover with oiled cling film, and leave to rise in a warm place until doubled in size. Meanwhile heat the oven to 425F/220C/Gas mark 7. Bake the loaf for 40-45 minutes. Turn out and cool thoroughly on a rack before slicing.
Sorry if you aren’t gluten free, I’ll make this review brief and get to the recipe as soon as I can. You can go ahead and make these awesome gougéres with regular all-purpose flour if gluten isn’t an issue.
So, last week when I was catching up on the many blogs I read, I came across a couple blogs talking about Better Batter. I’m always up for trying new gluten free items. I decided to go ahead and order a 2.5 pound box from their website. I have to say that out of all my gluten free experimentation, I think that Better Batter has come the closest to regular/gluten full flour (Mama CC is the one with celiac, I can eat gluten, so I can still compare between gluten free and gluten full things). These gougéres were so light and airy. Not something I often find when using gluten free flours.
I accidentally ended up doubling the recipe (the way the original was written was a bit hard to follow) and ended up with about 60(!) gougéres. I served a few with the Hungarian Mushroom Soup I posted yesterday and ended up freezing the majority of them.