Cranberry Wheat Bread

As I was planning our Thanksgiving meal the other day, I told Keith I would make our favorite cranberry bread as one of the side dishes. Almost immediately after he agreed, I thought out loud and said that maybe I should make some other bread instead because I tend to make the same bread for every holiday meal. Then, almost as quickly, I reconsidered and said nah…I would make the cranberry bread because that’s what we love, so why make something else? Ha, I apparently didn’t really need Keith for that conversation, lol.

I got this recipe from my mom-in-law more than 10 years ago (according to her, the recipe came with her bread machine). It is absolutely delicious – soft, honey-flavored, filled with chock-full of dried cranberries and chopped nuts. Not only that, the bread is quick and easy to prepare. Just throw a few ingredients in a bread machine and in a little over three hours, you’ll have a loaf of scrumptious homemade bread – wonderful eaten as is or lightly toasted, slathered with butter and drizzled with honey. Yum!

1¼ cups water
⅓ cup honey
2 tablespoons butter, softened
2 cups bread flour
1¼ cups whole wheat flour
1 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons regular active dry yeast or 1¾ teaspoons bread machine yeast or quick-acting active dry yeast
½ cup dried cranberries (Note: the original recipe calls for only ½ cup dried cranberries but since my husband and I like lots of fruit and nuts in our breads, I’ve increased the quantity of the cranberries to ¾ cup and added ¾ cup of chopped nuts, preferably walnuts or pecans)

Place the ingredients, except the fruit and nuts, in the pan according to the order in the manufacturer’s instructions. Program for the correct cycle (I always use the sweet bread setting for this bread); press Start. The bread dough should ultimately come away from the side of the pan and form a ball by the end of the kneading cycle. Keep an eye on it while it’s kneading and add more flour if the dough is too tacky. When the machine beeps, or between Knead 1 and Knead 2, add the fruit and nuts. (Note: my bread machine manual specifies to add any fruit and nuts 5 minutes before the first kneading ends to prevent them from being pulverized. However, because I use so much more fruit and nuts compared to the standard quantity, I usually add them 12-15 minutes before. This helps ensure all the fruit and nuts are fully worked into the dough). When the baking cycle ends, immediately remove the bread from the pan and place it on a rack. Let cool to room temperature before slicing.

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