Dec 11, 2015

Cranberry Sourdough Country Bread

Cranberry Sourdough Country Bread

This Cranberry Sourdough Bread is soft and moist on the inside with a dark crunchy crust. It is delicious toasted and buttered, and is great for turkey sandwiches (maybe with a schmear of stuffing and turkey gravy!). I also love it for apple and grilled cheddar cheese sandwiches.

The dough begins with a sourdough starter, but the fermentation is sped up just a bit by adding a tiny bit of instant yeast. If you don't have a sourdough starter, no worries. I've included a recipe for a poolish, a starter that you can substitute for the sourdough.

You don't need a stand mixer to make this bread. The dough is completely mixed by hand, using the "stretch and fold" method. This method involves pulling the dough from the outside and folding it over itself at 30 minute intervals. I've seen this method used in combination with kneading as well as the only method of mixing the dough. It's pretty miraculous. You'll be amazed when you develop an airy billowy dough with very little effort. I just set a timer to remind me when it's time to go "stretch and fold" again.

Once you've shaped the loaves, you stick them in the refrigerator to rise overnight to develop flavor. Then, you bake them straight out of the fridge the next morning.

The crust gets extra brown and crispy from the sweetness of the cranberries too.

Cranberry Sourdough Country Bread

This bread was created for the Three Loaves Project, which was founded by Jerry James Stone of Cooking Stoned. Every month Jerry sends out a new seasonal bread recipe to the members of the project so that they can make one loaf for themselves, one for a friend, and one for someone in need. This is the recipe that is being emailed to over 600 members of his community. If you'd like to join, get on his email list!

Cranberry Sourdough Country Bread

Makes three 1 1/2 pound loaves

Suggested Schedule: 

The day prior to baking, feed your sourdough first thing in the morning, mix the dough in the afternoon, and shape and refrigerate the loaves about five hours later. Bake the loaves the next morning. 


1050 grams unbleached all purpose flour
150 grams whole wheat flour
870 grams warm (95 degrees F) water
31 grams salt
3 grams instant yeast
600 grams active 100% hydration sourdough starter (it should have been fed between 6 to 12 hours earlier). If you don't have a sourdough starter, make a poolish about 12 to 14 hours prior to mixing the final dough (see note at the end of the recipe).
300 grams (about 2 cups) dried cranberries


  1. In a 12 quart tub or large bowl, whisk together the white and whole wheat flours.
  2. Add the water and mix by hand until just mixed. Cover, and let rest for 30 minutes.
  3. Sprinkle the top of the mixture with the salt and yeast.
  4. Add the levain or poolish to the dough. 
  5. Mix the dough with a wet hand by alternatively squeezing it and folding it, until all of the ingredients are fully mixed, and you don't feel any graininess from the flour and yeast, about three minutes. I usually keep a bowl of water nearby and re-wet my hand periodically. You will feel the dough strengthen as you go along. Fold in the cranberries after all of the salt and yeast has dissolved. 
  6. Cover the container, and let the dough sit in a warm spot for 30 minutes. With wet hands, stretch and fold the dough over itself from all four "sides." Cover the container and place it back in the warm spot. Repeat 3 more times, at 30 minute increments. These stretch and folds help develop the dough's structure and gluten. 
  7. Let the dough rise until about 2 1/2 to 3 times its original size. This should take about 5 hours from the first mixing (step 5). 
  8. Scrape the dough out of the bucket/bowl onto a lightly floured surface and divide it into three equal parts with a wet, oiled, or floured bench knife. 
  9. Generously flour three 9 inch proofing baskets or tea towel lined bowls. I used a mix of all purpose and brown rice flour. 
  10. Shape the dough into balls, spray with spray oil, and cover with plastic wrap. Let sit for 10 to 15 minutes. After they have rested, reshape the dough again, creating a taut skin over the top. Place the shaped dough into each basket, seam side up.  
  11. Spray the top of the dough with spray oil, and cover with plastic wrap or enclose in large plastic bags.
  12. Refrigerate overnight for 12 to 14 hours. 
  13. The next morning, remove one of loaves from the refrigerator.
  14. Preheat the oven to 475 degrees F with an empty covered Dutch oven placed on the middle rack. 
  15. Remove the plastic wrap from the top of the dough. 
  16. Remove the Dutch oven from the oven and remove the top. Place a piece of heavy duty parchment paper over the dough and place a plate over it. Flip the dough over, plate and all, and lift off the basket. Slash the top of the dough with a lame or a sharp knife. Lift and place the loaf in the Dutch oven by using the parchment as a sling (leave the paper under the dough). Place the lid back onto the Dutch oven and place it in the hot oven. 
  17. Bake for 30 minutes. Uncover the loaf and bake for about another 20 minutes, until the interior of the loaf reaches 205 to 210 degrees F. I usually move the loaf to a baking sheet after the first 30 minutes to prevent burning on the bottom. 
  18. Cool on a rack for at least 30 minutes before slicing. 
  19. Repeat with the next two loaves after reheating the Dutch oven. 
Note: To make a poolish (if needed), mix 500 grams of white flour with 500 grams of 80 degree F water and a scant 1/8 tsp instant yeast. Cover and let sit for 12 to 14 hours, until nearly tripled in size. Use 600 grams of the poolish instead of the sourdough starter. 


  1. Wow Karen, I just made cranberry poolish starter boule, yours look really good and delicious looking also, I will try your recipe too and thank you for sharing..

    1. Your welcome Karen, this is the link to the bread I made.

  2. Such a beautiful loaf of bread, and simply PERFECT for the season!

    When things calm down a little I intend to bake this, we have a couple of friends arriving at the end of the month, this would such a nice way to say welcome!

    1. You'll love it. It scales down too if you don't want three loaves, although they freeze well too.

    2. Hummmm.... magical words: they freeze well.... that's giving me some nice thoughts for this weekend! ;-)

  3. Hi Karen, I enjoy your bread posts and photography. The cranberry sourdough bread is on my baking agenda this weekend and I just wanted to double check on one thing: is 600 grams of starter correct? It seems like a lot, especially with the added yeast. Thanks for your help!

    1. Hi Cammie, it's 200 grams per loaf (this recipe makes 3 1 1/2 pound loaves). Thanks so much for the kind words!

  4. I'm making this now, but don't have a Dutch oven. I'm planning on baking on a sheet or possibly a baking stone. Would it still bake for about 50 minutes? That seems longer than bread I usually make. I don't want to ruin the first loaf experimenting. I'll be baking tomorrow. Any insight would be appreciated! Thanks

    1. I'm pretty sure that 50 minutes would be fine, but do check it at 40 minutes to make sure. Be sure to use steam in your oven. Set up a steam pan under the stone, or use and upside down steel bowl over the bread. Use an instant read thermometer if you have one on the bread. If it's 200 degrees, it's done.

    2. Thank you Karen! I do have a pan, steel bowl, and a thermometer. Thank you so much for your quick reply and for sharing your recipe!


I love comments and questions and read every one of them.