Once you are comfortable with the Basic Sourdough Bread it’s time to try out some fun variations. This perfect Cranberry Pecan Sourdough Bread is just the place to start. This bread is amazing toasted with butter, with cheese for a simple supper, or as a gift. Not only is it delicious, it’s beautiful with red berries and pecans in each slice.

For any variation or flavored bread, you are just kneading fruit, nuts, cheese, or whatever add-in you are working with into the dough before shaping it. With this Cranberry Pecan Sourdough Bread I knead the cranberries and pecans in before shaping the loaf. You can also mix them in before the final proofing or bulk ferment step.

Cranberry Pecan Sourdough Bread Tips

I’m going to give you the shortened recipe for the Basic Sourdough Bread with the add-ins and the instructions. If you want to see the full recipe with step-by-step photos, you can find it here. I recommend giving the basic recipe a try before making a variation but do whatever floats your boat. There are no rules for this so have fun!

Also I use a metric digital kitchen scale but will include cup measures if you don’t have a scale or prefer using measuring cups. Bread baking is very flexible, after a few loaves you can go by feel and consistency if you are comfortable.

Baked Cranberry Pecan Sourdough Bread.

Cranberry Pecan Sourdough Bread Recipe

  • 200 grams (1 cup) sourdough starter
  • 300 grams (1 1/4 cups) water
  • 500 grams (4 cups) bread flour
  • 11 grams (1 3/4 teaspoon) salt
  • 150 grams (1 1/5 cups) pecans, halves or chopped
  • 150 grams (1 1/4 cups) dried cranberries

Mixing the Dough

The first step is mixing the starter, water, flour, and salt in a large bowl or container with a lid. You want to mix it well enough so there are no pockets of flour on the bottom. It will be rough and messy looking but that’s fine. Cover it and let it rest for 20 minutes or so.

Stretch and Folds

My method of working bread dough is time and stretch and folds instead of kneading. Kneading works but can be tricky on wet dough like this recipe. This type of “artisan” bread is also called high hydration dough because of the ratio of water to flour. In this recipe there is 60% hydration, the water is 60% of the weight of the flour. A traditional sandwich bread is usually 50% or less hydration so it’s a firmer dough and easier to knead.

Kneading lots of bread may also damage your wrists after a while but that’s only if you are kneading a lot of bread every week. Maybe every day even though your family can’t eat that much bread but you’re obsessed so you keep making it. Personal experience here folks!

With stretch and folds you get your hand wet so the dough doesn’t stick and stretch the dough up as high as it will stretch then fold it over on itself. I do three stretch and folds then cover the dough and let it rest for 30 minutes or so. Usually I do three of these sessions to work the dough. After the third session I let the dough rest for a few hours or however long I need to for my schedule that day. This is the bulk ferment.

First stretch and fold for first session for Basic Sourdough Bread.
Stretching the Dough
Final fold for first session for Basic Sourdough Bread.
Folding the Dough
Second rest for Basic Sourdough Bread
Resting the Dough

Adding the Good Stuff!

After the bulk ferment your dough should have risen and it will be airy and puffy. Tip it out on the countertop and add the dried cranberries and pecan. It’s never easy to mix things into a developed bread dough so just be patient and gently knead the cranberries and pecans in the best you can. I try to fold them in lightly and not work it so that there are lots of cranberries on the top of the dough. They will burn while the bread bakes. Not the end of the world if that happens but I’ve found it works best this way.

Shape the dough into a ball. The easiest way to do this is to cup your hands behind the dough and gently pull it toward you. You’ll have to do this several times. The gluten in the dough will tighten up and form almost a skin (I hate using that word here but it works) over the dough and shape it into a tight ball. This method works best if there’s not a lot of flour on the countertop. I just work the dough with no extra flour but use a light dusting if the dough is too sticky for your liking.

Set the ball smooth side down on a floured napkin, kitchen towel, or paper towel and place it in a basket or bowl to rise. Again, there are more details about this in my Basic Sourdough Bread post. I put the whole shebang in a plastic shopping bag to rise but it just needs a sealed place to rise so the dough doesn’t dry out. Use whatever works best for you.

Dough with dried cranberries and pecans.
Cranberry Pecan Sourdough Bread.
Cranberry Pecan Sourdough Bread ready to rise.

Rising Cranberry Pecan Sourdough Bread

The shaped dough will need a couple hours to rise at room temperature or it can rise overnight in the fridge. This is how I usually do it so I have plenty of time to work on the dough throughout the day and then can bake first thing in the morning. Whatever you end up doing, let it rise until it’s puffy and airy then get ready to bake.

Cranberry Pecan Sourdough Bread in bag to rise.
Dough Sealed to Rise
Cranberry Pecan Sourdough Bread risen.
Risen Cranberry Pecan Sourdough Bread
Cranberry Pecan Sourdough Bread turned out.
Ready to Bake

Slash and Bake Cranberry Pecan Sourdough Bread

About 20 minutes before you bake, preheat your oven to 450 degrees and heat up a pan, dutch oven, or whatever you will be baking the bread in. I’m using a stoneware baking cloche here. When it’s good and hot, tip the bread out on a sheet of parchment paper and slash it with a sharp knife. There are various tools for slashing bread but I just use a sharp knife. Work quickly but gently and slash whatever pattern you like or feel comfortable doing. Most of the time I make one big slash across the middle but sometimes I make a pattern.

Slashing Cranberry Pecan Sourdough Bread.
Finishing slashes on Cranberry Pecan Sourdough Bread.
Slashed and ready to bake Cranberry Pecan Sourdough Bread.

Use the parchment paper to transfer the dough to the hot pan or whatever you’re using to bake in, cover it and bake for 25 minutes. Take off the lid, lower the heat to 425 degrees, and bake for another 25 minutes. When the timer goes off and the bread is beautifully browned, carefully take it out of the oven. I let it cool on the pan base for a while before moving it to a cooling rack.

Cranberry Pecan Sourdough Bread in stoneware cloche.
Covered to Bake
Baking Cranberry Pecan Sourdough Bread.
Removing the Cover to Finish
Baked Cranberry Pecan Sourdough Bread.
Finished Loaf

A Few Last Thoughts

This isn’t going to be easy but you need to let the bread cool completely before slicing it. I know this is hard but the cooling time is part of the baking process. The starch in the bread is setting and solidifying as it cools. This goes for all bread but rolls or bread you are eating all of right then can be an exception. If you slice it while it’s hot it will be gummy when you slice it. The next day the bread will be dry already and a bit stale. This is because the starch didn’t finish setting.

Now, it’s your bread so if you can’t resist that hot steaming loaf straight from the oven go ahead. Just know it won’t be as good the next day. No one will turn you in to the bread police but at least I did my part in warning you. However you go about it, you will love this bread and if you give it as a gift, your friend will love you all the more!