this is a bit of a long one, hahahah pretty much a dissertation, not the recipe, the post. Maybe whack on some Pokémon vids in the background?
It’s the last of our Breaduary adventure! A pretty momentous moment and so I’m ending with a pretty momentous bread. Really, this is the only fruit loaf you’ll ever need. The sweet cinnamon, creamy cashews and sharp cranberries come together in a symphony of peng. Yep, this bread is peng. This recipe came about from my attempt to recreate mums bread love, the Tesco cashew cranberry bloomer.
Dunno why, but you keep calling this bread a Stollen. It’s not a Stollen joe. But I see where your coming from, it does have some Christmassy vibes. Seeing we’re at the end of February, I think of this bread as a hint towards the Hot Cross Buns that come in Easter time (find my Hot Cross Bun recipe here). This bread takes a bit of time, but there is only about 20 mins where you are hands on doing things to the bread, it actually does most of the work itself. Great! I’m selling this well. Just make this bread, it won’t last a day, it’s that good.
What is a Half-Sponge Method? (Caitlin’s dissertation)
My recipe is adapted from Dan Leopards Farmhouse tin loaf, which uses the ‘half-sponge method’ to give the loaf it’s flavour. All the water is mixed with the yeast and half the flour the night before baking the bread. This allows the bread to develop it’s flavour and texture over night.
This method was used before we started to put lots of additives in breads, before bread making became a fast industrialised practice. Using the sponge method gives the dough time to develop naturally occurring enzymes (proteins) in your bread flour, that give the dough strength to rise. In modern day bread making these enzymes don’t occur naturally, and so have to be added in (in very small amounts). Wow, isn’t wikipedia a wealth of information!
Maybe I’ve lots you a bit… tbh I’m also a lost lol, I don’t know all the science behind it. But, you can taste the difference when using the sponge method. And even if you can’t taste the difference, there is something important, I think, in letting the chemicals in the bread do what they need to do, in the time that they need to do it. Sort of like a philosophy for life (hahaha), or very little, personal protest against our fast modern life.
Cool. So now I’ve written my dissertation on the half-sponge method, I’ll give you the recipe.
Note On Shape, There Are Endless Possibilities. You do not need to use a loaf tin for this bread. I’ve written this recipe to bake in a loaf tin because it’s the easiest way to shape bread. My preferred way to bake this bread, is a free form round shape that you stick on a baking tray. You can do this too by forming the dough into a ball shape after it’s first rest and continuing as the recipe instructs. Alternatively, you can make an elongated free form loaf without a tin by rolling the bread into a sausage, tucking in the ends and placing seam-side down on a lightly floured baking tray.
For the Sponge, the night before
- 230ml warm water
- 1 teaspoon (a little less than a 7g sachet) dried instant yeast
- 175g strong white bread flour
- 130g dried cranberries
- 70g roughly chopped cashew nuts
For the Dough, the next morning
- 175g strong white bread flour
- 20g unsalted butter
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 15g soft light brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
Just before bed, the night before you want bread, add the water and yeast to a mixing bowl, mix together. Add in the flour, cranberries and cashews and mix thoroughly. Scrape the sides of the bowl clean with a spatula. Cover the bowl with a tea towel or clingfilm and leave overnight.
The next morning, add the flour, and cubed butter to a bowl. Rub the butter through the flour with your fingertips until it vanishes into the flour. Add in the salt, sugar and cinnamon. Mix together. Add the flour to the yeast sponge you made the night before and mix everything together into a shaggy dough with a spoon. Scrape any bits off the spoon and cover the bowl with a tea towel, leave for 10 mins.
Give the dough three quick kneads over the next 30 mins (ish). By a quick knead I mean about 15 seconds of kneading (Roll. Squash. Fold. Repeat) on a very lightly oiled work surface before putting it back in your bowl and covering with a cloth. After the third and final knead, leave the dough on your worksurface while you wash the bowl. Dry it, lightly oil it, then place the dough back in the bowl to rise in a warm place (next to a radiator, maybe) for a further 30mins.
While the dough rises, butter and lightly dust with flour a 2lb loaf tin (about 21cm long and 11cm wide). When the dough is ready, tip it onto a lightly floured work surface. Flatten into a rectangle that measures, from left to right, slightly less than the length of your loaf tin. Roll the dough up tightly and put it, seam-side down, into the tin. Cover the tin with a tea towel and leave in your warm place until it has doubled in size, about an hour and a half. Don’t worry about the time this takes, when you think it has doubled it will be ready.
Heat the oven to 220 / 200 fan oven. lightly Dust the top of the loaf with flour and, if you want to, use a sharp knife to slash the loaf diagonally a couple of times. Bake for 25 mins. With out opening the oven door, reduce the heat to 200 / 180 fan oven and bake for a further 20 mins, until dark golden brown. Take the bread out the tin and allow to cool for 30 mins before slicing.
Happy Breaduary Boiiiii. Love Caitlin x