My New Thanksgiving Cranberry Bread

[Susan's note: I first published this post in 2010. Since then, we've all had a few more shakeups, and I continue to be thankful beyond words for the family and friends who break bread with me, on Thanksgiving and through the year. ]

This is the recipe I said I would not post. It’s the recipe for the cranberry bread I’ll be serving for Thanksgiving this year.

Three years ago I wrote (and re-posted for the two years following that) about why I never changed Thanksgiving dinner, why it had been the same reliable cranberry bread for years (along with the same turkey, the same stuffing, and the same potatoes), and would be for years to come. It was the recipe from the back of the bag of Ocean Spray cranberries; you could get it there if you wanted it, and I wasn’t about to go messing with it.

So this year, I messed with it, a little. Added some whole wheat flour. Took away some sugar. Made the loaf a little bigger. Converted everything into grams because that just feels better to me. Call it fine tuning.

In the scheme of things, it’s not that big a deal. And by the scheme of things, I mean that for the past year — and for the first time ever in my life – my household has consisted of just me. Throw a new home, graduating from baking school, and becoming adept at toilet repairs into the scheme, and messing with a cranberry bread recipe is just not that big a deal.

It’s all good, because even really fine, reliable traditions can use a little fine tuning every once in a while, and even really fine lives can withstand some major turbulence.  Because even when the bread changes, the house changes, the life changes, and the plumbing breaks, I still have so much to be thankful for. (And if it makes anyone feel any better, I didn’t change the stuffing recipe at all.)

Have a beautiful Thanksgiving, everyone!

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Marzipan Stollen

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I have long extolled the virtues of Stollen, the classic German holiday yeasted fruitcake, as not only one of the tastiest ways to get your holiday-bread-shaped-like-baby-Jesus-in-the-manger fix, but as an extremely easy and forgiving bread to make.

This was evident when my colleague Susan and I were charged with making the Stollen for our baking school graduation. We tossed all the ingredients into the mixer and turned our attention to the half-dozen or so other breads on our day’s agenda. Almost an hour later, our cries of “Aaaaahhhh, the Stollen!” brought our panicked instructor running, and once he determined that the bakery was not burning down, he shot us a glare that demanded to know why two grown women couldn’t manage to act more dignified (especially considering, I suppose, the hallowed origins of this bread). The forgotten Stollen, however, didn’t care at all; the mixer was chugging along, with the Stollen dough swirling cheerfully and patiently inside. Most breads are ruined by excessive mixing, but it was going to take much, much more to get this baby’s swaddling in a twist.

My Stollen this year proved itself, fittingly, to be further willing to forgive; I inadvertently left the egg out of the dough, and nothing bad happened. Butter, sugar, and rum-soaked fruit save one from a multitude of sins, it seems.

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YeastSpotting 12.18.14

Be inspired, bake, share, repeat.

Loaves and Rolls, First Batch
Page 1
Loaves and Rolls, Second Batch
Page 2
Flat Breads, Sweet Breads, and More
Page 3
YeastSpotting is a periodic collective showcase of yeasted baked goods and dishes with bread as a main ingredient. For more bread inspiration, and information on how to submit your bread, please visit the YeastSpotting archive.

Corn Bread Rolls

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There’s cornbread — spongy, sweet, and efficiently leavened with baking powder — and there’s Corn Bread: hearty and crusty, with the hard-won flavor than can only be achieved with yeast and time. And then there are these Corn Bread Rolls, which are fun to shape, if not precise replicas of the ears of maize that represent a bountiful harvest. Or little lopsided footballs, depending on your preferred meaning of Thanksgiving. Or maybe both, like when my dad took me to the thrilling Nebraska Cornhuskers game in Lincoln on Thanksgiving in 1965.

May your holiday be filled with what gives you sustenance, people you love, a little bit of excitement, and appreciation of blessings and hard-won victories, whatever yours may be.

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Pumpkin Brioche Cinnamon Rolls

pumpkin cinnamon rolls

This post was originally published on November 19, 2009. May I recommend these for Thanksgiving breakfast?

I like these pumpkin cinnamon rolls a lot.

In case it seems like I’m damning them with faint praise, consider that I’ve spent the past two weeks in class redefining my relationship with butter. Brioche à tête. Brioche sucrée. More brioche à tête. Cinnamon rolls. Sticky buns. Brioche tarts. Brioche tartlets. Brioche coffee cake. Strawberry brioche. Gibassier. Stollen. Panettone. Pan d’oro. And let’s not forget croissants 521 ways.

They’re delicious, they’re beautiful, they’re fun to make, every one of them. So I truly mean no disrespect when I say Stop! I’m supersaturated! Quick, someone give me a lima bean (and if you know me, you’ll recognize a truly desperate plea here.)

But back to the rolls. I made them at home, the weekend before we started this descent into the sweet, rich, yeasty madness known as the Viennoiserie unit. I guess I thought… well, clearly I was unencumbered by the thought process, as Click and Clack would say.

But I can I still say like these rolls, and right now, that’s saying a lot. Maybe you’ll like them too.

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Pumpkin Anise Sourdough Bagels

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Here’s a nod to pumpkin season, but not the ubiquitous “pumpkin spice.” The large proportion of pumpkin yields a bagel that is compact and chewy, but not hard or dry. If you’re not an anise fan, or prefer something more savory, caraway or cumin seeds could be interesting.

I think most people believe bagels are difficult to make, but they’re not. They do require a lot of mixing to achieve a high degree of gluten development, though, so a stand mixer is helpful. That’s even more true with these particular bagels, because the pumpkin should be evenly incorporated in the dough, and that will be challenging if you’re mixing by hand. But it’s not impossible; just plan to spend at least 30 minutes giving your arms a workout!

pumpkin-bagels-wild-yeast-550 [Read more...]