For years I’ve baked cookies for friends and neighbors for the winter holiday season. I enjoy it, but wanted to try something new this year, and decided to go with breads. This recipe is adapted from “Bread Machine Breads” for regular oven baking, and a little richer than the original. For gift-giving I’ve been doubling the recipe and baking two loaves at a time.
10″ bread loaf pan
Stand mixer with dough hook (optional)
Makes 1 loaf
1 1/4 cups milk
2 T. butter
2 T. sugar
1 1/2 t. vanilla
1 t. salt
1 1/4 t. dry yeast (a little more if using fresh)
4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup dried sweetened cranberries
1/2 cup white chocolate chips
Measure the flour into your mixing bowl or bowl of the stand mixer.
In a microwave-safe container, combine the milk, butter, salt, vanilla, and sugar. Heat the mixture until warm to the touch but not hot (about 80-90 degrees). Add the yeast and stir thoroughly.
Whisk the egg and pour into the center of the flour, then pour in the milk mixture. Mix the dough until all ingredients are combined, then work a little more to release the gluten in the flour. Cover with plastic wrap or a damp cloth and place in a warm spot to rise for about 45-60 minutes, or until doubled in size.
Meanwhile, grease a loaf pan and prepare a work surface dusted with flour. Measure out the cranberries and chocolate into a small bowl.
Dust your hands with flour and turn the dough out onto the work surface. Stretch the dough out into a flat shape and spread the cranberries and chocolate on the surface. Then roll the dough into a log shape to engulf the add-ins and knead for a few minutes, turning the dough 90 degrees after every few strokes, re-flouring as needed to prevent sticking on the work surface, and pushing any cranberries and chips that pop out firmly back into the dough. Pull the dough into a log shape and place in the loaf pan. Cover the dough again and let rest for 20 minutes. Preheat the oven to 350F.
Remove the cover from the dough and bake for 45 minutes until the top of the bread is golden brown and makes a hollow sound when tapped.
Place the loaf pan on a wire rack to cool for 5-10 minutes before attempting to get the bread out. The loaf will shrink as it cools and should pop out of the pan but may need a tap or two. Transfer the loaf back to the cooling rack for 30 minutes before serving.
If this is a gift, you can wrap it tightly in aluminum foil and place in the refrigerator for up to 4 days before giving it away, or use a seasonal colored plastic wrap to preserve freshness and make a festive presentation.
I like this toasted slightly with a little butter. It’s great for dessert, tea-time, or breakfast.