I have a dark secret to share. I’m becoming known as the hit and run lady in our neighborhood. Uh-huh. Bad. Not that kind of hit and run, of course, but around these parts, it’s almost as terrible. You see, everyone around here is always on a diet. In this part of California, we buck the national trend towards obesity. Being 5 pounds over your high school weight is a travesty – even at 50 years of age. So baking bread on a regular basis makes me an outlaw of sorts, and I’ve resorted to some pretty nasty ways of dealing with my BBA Challenge loaves.
This week’s bread is a Cranberry-Walnut Celebration Braid. Having dried tart cherries in the house, however, I turned it into a Dried Cherry-Walnut Celebration Bread. Daring, I know. But here’s what I did with it: I wrapped it up all pretty-like, with a ribbon and label, and I surreptitiously dropped it on a neighbor’s doorstep as a thank you for a dinner we had at their house. Then, I hurried off on my morning jog/walk, and called them to let them know it was sitting there. Yup. That’s my tactic. It’s really more of a drop and run, but it gets the job done. Worse yet? I sometimes leave a couple of zucchini when I do this. And you thought I was a nice person. I’m so bad that when new neighbors started moving in, all I could think was, perfect, another bread drop stop! They could be crack dealers for all I know, and I wouldn’t care, except, wait a minute, people who do crack don’t eat much, right? That would really suck.
I know, I’ve crossed over some invisible line. But I work at home, friends! And all these loaves of bread are altering my metabolism in a way that is just not pretty! Desperate times lead to desperate measures.
The bread was supposed to be made into a double braid, which is apparently quite impressive. I’ll never know, because after making the three carefully measured 10 ounce pieces for the main braid, I was left with a small round weighing 5 ounces. (Instead of the 12 ounces needed to make the smaller braid for the top layer.)
Where did all the dough go? I know I put in 1 ounce less of the dried fruit and a half ounce less of the walnuts. The other 5 1/2 ounces? It’s a mystery to me – I weigh everything. It all worked out fine, though, because then I could keep the tiny boule for tasting in our house. And the bread was beautiful, with a dark crust from the egg wash.
While I was kneading in the dried fruit, I was thinking that the dough could not possibly hold it all. But it did. This bread is really a little bit of dough around a lot of fruit and nuts. Which is awfully tempting, especially toasted. Which leads to the hit and run tactic. Which takes us right back where we started again, doesn’t it? (You can find Peter Reinhart’s recipe here, although in the Bread Baker’s Apprentice, he uses slightly less sugar and salt, and a half cup more cranberries!)