Delicious Cranberry Walnut Swirl Bread is a yeast bread, with a swirl of leftover cranberry sauce. Why put cranberry sauce on your bread … when you can put it in your bread?!
For Canadians, Thanksgiving has come and gone already, but the left-overs live on. It seems that every year I pull out my handy-dandy recipe for cranberry sauce and cook up a batch. And every year, I have 95% of it left after the meal is over. You’d think I’d learn, but in the 360-ish days that separate each Thanksgiving, somehow that little nugget of knowledge disappears ;)
So that’s the backstory for this bread. It’s “what I did with left-over cranberry sauce” and if I do say so myself, it was pretty awesome. Honestly, this bread makes a killer left-over turkey sandwich! I know it’s too late for my Canadian friends who have probably eaten all their turkey and disposed of their left-over cranberry sauce by now, but with US Thanksgiving and Christmas turkeys still to come, I thought I’d share this now. I’d even go so far as to suggest that you make sure you have some cranberry sauce left-over just so you can make this bread for your turkey sandwiches.
I must warn you though, this bread is a bit messy to make. It will look like a hot mess when you get it in to the baking pan. Just go with it though and trust that it will be beautiful once it’s baked, because it will be. I suggest a fairly thick cranberry sauce. If yours isn’t, maybe drain the loosest liquid off before spreading it on the bread dough, just to keep the mess a bit under control.
Cook’s Notes for Cranberry Walnut Swirl Bread
I’ve included my cranberry sauce recipe at the end of the recipe below, if anyone’s interested. It uses orange juice and zest, which makes great added flavour in this bread, too. I added walnuts to my bread, which I love, but feel free to omit if you like.
Cranberry Walnut Swirl Bread
For the bread:
- 3 1/4 cups unbleached bread or all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp. fine salt
- 2 1/2 Tbsp. white or brown sugar
- 2 1/2 tsp. instant yeast
- 1/2 cup lukewarm water about 95° F.
- 1/2 cup plus 1 Tbsp. lukewarm buttermilk or milk
- 2 Tbsp. melted unsalted butter or vegetable oil
For the filling:
- 1 1/2 cups cranberry sauce not too runny is best - drain a bit of liquid off, if necessary
- 1/3 cup chopped walnuts
In a large bowl of the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a kneading hook, combine 2 cups of the flour, the salt, sugar and instant yeast. Mix to combine. Add the lukewarm water, milk and melted butter or oil. Mix to combine. Begin adding the remaining flour, 1/4 cup at a time, until you have a soft and smooth dough that is moist, but not tacky. Remove dough to a greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise until doubled, 45-60 minutes.
Remove dough to a floured surface. Roll in to a rectangle, approximately 12 inches wide by 18 inches long. Spread your cranberry sauce over the surface, leaving a 1-inch margin on the longest sides. Sprinkle with chopped walnuts. Starting with the long sides, roll the dough jelly-roll style (the best technique here is to lift gently and flop forward), until you reach the end. Pinch seams and ends together.
(If you'd like a visual of the shaping technique, it is shown in my Cheese Bread Recipe) Using a sharp knife, cut down the centre of the roll from one end to the other. Carefully place the two pieces side by side, with the cut side facing up. Pinch together the two pieces of dough at one end. Proceed to braid the two pieces together, by lifting on piece over the other and then repeating a couple of times. Pinch together the other end.
Grease a 9x5-inch loaf pan. Using a spatula or a bench scraper, carefully lift the braided dough in to the pan. Spray a piece of plastic wrap with cooking spray and place over top of pan. Allow to rise until dough has risen about an inch above the pan in the centre.
Pre-heat oven to 350° F. Once bread has risen, remove plastic wrap. Bake for 30 minutes. Check at 30 minutes and rotate the pan front to back. If bread is already well browned, cover loosely with a piece of aluminum foil and bake an additional 10-15 minutes, until bread is golden brown and sounds hollow when tapped. (Or about 200° F. when tested with a thermometer). Allow bread to cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then run a knife around the edges and remove bread from loaf pan and cool on a cooling rack.
Allow bread to cool completely before slicing.
My Cranberry Sauce recipe: Combine 1/2 cup white sugar, 1/2 cup brown sugar, 1/2 cup orange juice and 1/2 cup water in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add a 12 oz. package of fresh cranberries. Cook, stirring regularly, until the cranberries start to pop (about 10 minutes) and liquid thickens slightly. Remove from heat, and transfer to a bowl. Cranberry sauce will thicken more as it cools.
Be sure to read the "Cook's Notes" in the original post, for more tips, options, substitutions and variations for this recipe!