Cherry-Pecan Bread

I was delighted when I learned the theme of BreadBakingDay #2, hosted by Becke of Columbus Foodie, was Bread with Fruit. What a great excuse to bake, again, one of my favorite breads: 50% whole wheat, with dried sour cherries and toasted pecans. The earthy flavor of whole wheat, the tartness of the cherries, and the slightly sweet spiciness of the nuts combine to make a bread that is always a hit with my family and friends.


A few notes on the recipe:

I use white whole wheat flour because I enjoy the contrast of the light-colored bread studded with the ruby-red fruit and rich brown pecans; however, regular (red) whole wheat flour would work well also.

I coarsely chop the pecans because I prefer a rather even dispersal of the nut morsels through the dough, but you might prefer to leave them as entire halves for more dramatic bursts of nuttiness.

When adjusting the dough consistency during mixing, remember that the dried cherries will absorb a little of the dough’s moisture, so make it just a tad wetter than you usually would.

I mix this entirely by hand, but you could do the initial mixing in a stand mixer; I do recommend incorporating the pecans and cherries by hand, though, to ensure that they stay as intact as possible. Also remember, if you use a mixer, to make the water cooler to compensate for the heat that will be generated by the mixing friction.

Whole Wheat Cherry-Pecan Bread

Yield: 1 kg (two small loaves)


  • Mix/ferment sponge: 12 – 16 hours
  • Toast pecans: 5 minutes
  • Mix final dough: 20 minutes
  • First fermentation: 2 – 2.5 hours
  • Divide, bench rest, and shape: 25 minutes
  • Proof: 1.25 – 1.5 hours
  • Bake: 30 minutes
  • Cool: 2+ hours

Desired dough temperature: 75F

Ingredients for sponge:

Ingredients for final dough:

  • 119 g white flour
  • 238 g white whole wheat flour (I used KAF organic)
  • 273 g water at about 85F
  • 2.3 g (3/4 t.) dry instant yeast
  • 10 g salt
  • 14 g honey
  • all of the sponge, cut into about 8 pieces
  • 76 g coarsely chopped pecans
  • 76 g dried, pitted sour cherries


  1. Combine all of the sponge ingredients and knead just until all the flour is incorporated. Cover and let rest at room temperature for 12 – 16 hours. When the sponge is ready to use, it will be doubled in volume and the surface pebbled with bubbles.
  2. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, toast the pecans, stirring constantly, until they are browned and fragrant, about 3 minutes. Do not let them burn! Set them aside with the cherries. Make sure the pecans are completely cool before adding them to the dough.
  3. Combine all of the final dough ingredients except the pecans and cherries in a medium bowl. Turn the dough out onto the counter and mix by hand until the dough reaches a low level of gluten development, about 10 minutes. It should be quite soft, and tacky but not sticky.
  4. Fold in the pecans and cherries and continue mixing by hand until they are evenly incorporated.
  5. Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled container (preferably a low, wide one so the dough can be folded without removing it from the container).
  6. Ferment at room temperature (72F – 76F) for 2 – 2.5 hours, with folds at 30 and 60 minutes. Do an additional fold at 90 minutes if the dough still seems quite slack.
  7. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured counter. Divide it into two pieces, and preshape into light balls.
  8. Sprinkle the balls lightly with flour, cover loosely with plastic, and let rest for 20 minutes.


  9. Shape into batards. Pick off any pieces of cherry or pecan sticking out of the top surfaces of the loaves, as they burn easily (don’t worry, if you forget to do this it will still be great). Place the loaves seam-side-up in a floured couche or linen-lined bannetons.
  10. Slip the couche or bannetons into a large plastic bag or cover with plastic wrap and proof at room temperature for 1.25 – 1.5 hours.
  11. Meanwhile, preheat the oven, with baking stone, to 500F. You will also need steam during the initial phase of baking, so prepare for this now.
  12. Turn the proofed loaves onto a semolina-sprinkled peel or parchment. Slash each one with a single cut parallel to the long axis of the batard. To get a nice ear, hold the blade at about a 30-degree angle to the surface of the loaf.
  13. Once the loaves are in the oven, turn the heat down to 450F. Bake for 12 minutes with steam, and another 14 – 18 minutes without steam. I leave the oven door cracked open a bit for the last 5 minutes of this time. The crust should be a deep brown. Then turn off the oven and leave the loaves in for 5 minutes longer, with the door ajar, to help them dry.
  14. Cool on a wire rack. Enjoy when completely cool.

Cherry-Pecan Bread

CommentsLeave a comment

  1. says

    Ooooh!! Remind me to make this bread at Thanksgiving and Christmas time! It looks like the perfect bread to serve with a creamy goat’s cheese.

    Clearly I’m going to have to revise my thoughts about fruit not really belonging in bread.


  2. says

    What exactly is the difference between white and regular whole wheat flour? Just the color?

    Your bread looks delicious! It comes on my to-bake-list.

  3. says

    Thanks Tatter and Zorra!

    White wheat is a type of wheat whose bran is missing some of the the pigments that give red wheat its color. These pigments are also somewhat bitter in flavor, so white whole wheat flour has a milder, nuttier flavor than that made from red wheat. It is my understanding that the white flour still has all of the nutritional benefits of red whole wheat flour.

  4. Terry says

    Susan, what a great site you have here! I was drawn to your lovely site by this cherry-pecan bread recipe you posted on TFL – I love cherries and I stockpile dried sour cherries when I find them at a good price, so I must try your recipe. I have not had time to participate on TFL all summer, but have lurked once in a while in a spare moment – hopefully I’ll have more time this fall/winter to blog there as much as I used to, at least I am still baking SD bread every weekend though (priorities!)! Just wanted to say I am enjoying looking through your site here, and have always enjoyed your posts on TFL. Keep those great breads coming…
    –Terry (aka mountaindog)

  5. says

    Terry, thank you for your very kind comment. I’m glad you are baking even though you’ve not had time for much posting. I do hope you can actively participate in The Fresh Loaf again soon, though, as I’ve always enjoyed your posts as well.

  6. Ben says

    I’ll reiterate what i said of tfl- gorgeous! I tried to make this bread a couple days, and all was going well until I put it in my oven. I just moved and wasn’t used to my oven, was being a little less than attentive and burned the crap out of it, haha. I tasted the crumb on my way to garbage can, it was delicous and I’ll definitely try again.

  7. Sue says

    A late post about this bread, and your breads in general…wouldn’t it be nice to know that a professional whom you went to for medical care also created breads like these so mindfully? That would be a bonus in my book. Beatiful work, Susan!

  8. Darryl says

    Tried this bread today and overproofed it a bit before baking. Still turned out great. I really enjoy your blog and the way you format and write your recipes. I had a bit of trouble slashing through the big cherries and did not get that nice ear you show in the picture. Do you use a lame or a knife?

    Thanks again for sharing all your knowledge and baking experience.

  9. says

    Darryl, I use a lame for slashing but a knife works also. To get a nice ear, make sure you slash at angle (about 30 degrees to the surface of the loaf), steam the oven, and do not overproof the bread. If there are any cherries or nuts on the surface you can pick them off before slashing, but the ones just under the surface may still get in the way of the blade.

    I’m glad your bread turn out great. Thanks for reading!

  10. Leslie says

    If I were to make this with sourdough starter instead of instant yeast, how much starter should I add to the sponge? (If this can be answered simply and the solution isn’t, like — there are so many alterations to rising times and etc that I may as well make a sourdough loaf, haha.)

  11. angela says

    hi! i’m living in ireland and really miss the german bread, especially sourdough, which i’ve been baking for years now. i came across your site and love it. thanks for sharing all your ideas! i tried the cherry bread a few days ago and would always prefer it to any cake. it’s divine! i’ll try the cider bread next. thanks for putting in the photos as well, it’s very inspiring and really invites me to try more of your breads. i love it! angela

  12. says

    Hi there, does the bread bake directly on the preheated stone? At which level should the stone be at? The floor of the oven, the lowest rack or other? thanks.


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