Sweet, chewy, and studded with dried cranberries and walnuts, this Dutch Oven Cranberry Walnut Bread and comes together with minimal effort.
Copycat Cranberry Walnut Bread
After trying Panera's Cranberry Walnut Bread years ago, I have been recreating the bread at home with spectacular results, using my Dutch Oven Bread recipe as a starting point.
Studded with dried cranberries and chopped walnuts, this cranberry walnut bread is chewy and yeasty, and downright FABULOUS!
The bonus is that this recipe for Cranberry Walnut Bread only takes minutes of hands-on prep and costs pennies to make--much less expensive than Panera!
However, you slice it (ha! ha!) this bread is good! And good for you!!
- Flour: I use whole white wheat flour for this recipe. I have tried using 100% whole wheat and that overwhelmed the flavor of the cranberries and walnuts. However, you can use a mixture of 100% whole wheat flour and all-purpose flour with success. I would just use half of each.
- Yeast: Use regular dry active yeast (not quick rise yeast) and be sure that your yeast has not expired. If it is not fresh, your bread will not proof and will be dense and flat when baked.
- Salt: I always use kosher salt when baking bread. If you only have table salt, that will work, but I highly recommend kosher salt for flavor.
- Dried Cranberries: Be sure you used dried cranberries, not fresh cranberries. The dried cranberries will plump up slightly as the bread rises and add just the right amount of tart sweetness.
- Walnuts: Use unsalted, toasted walnuts for the best flavor. And chop the walnut pieces up into small pieces so that no bite is overwhelmed with a piece of walnut.
Notes on Equipment
- Dutch Oven Pan: There is no substitution to using a heavy-bottomed dutch oven pan fitted with a lid for this recipe. It creates the perfect environment for cooking the bread and if well-seasoned/cared for, the bread will not stick to your pan.
- Parchment Paper: Parchment paper is completely optional, but it does make transfering the bread to your pan easier. It will also help prevent your bread from sticking to your pan. Just be sure your parchment paper is safe up to temperatures of 450 degrees F--some brands are only safe up to 400 degrees F.
How to Make Cranberry Walnut Bread
Dutch oven bread is one of the easiest ways to prepare bread at home. There is no need to proof the yeast or knead the dough, making this recipe incredibly easy.
Plan Ahead: It does take time for the bread dough to proof, so I highly recommend prepping this dough the night before you intend to bake it. I will often take 5 minutes to mix it together while I am preparing dinner and then the dough is ready to bake the next morning.
- In a large mixing bowl toss the yeast, flour, salt, cranberries, and walnuts together.
- Add in the water and mix together with a wooden spoon or spatula until the dough comes together. Expect the dough to be sticky and wetter than dough of traditional homemade bread.
- Once the dough is combined, cover with a clean kitchen towel or plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for 12-18 hours. The yeast will activate and the bread will get yeasty and bubbly.
- Turn the risen bread dough out onto parchment paper LIGHTLY dusted with flour. With floured hands, quickly shape the dough into a circle.
- Let the dough rest on the parchment paper while the oven preheats.
- Place the dutch oven pan into the oven BEFORE turning the oven on to preheat. It is crucial to let the pan preheat as well--this will give this cranberry walnut bread it's chewy, crispy exterior.
- Once the pan is preheated, carefully place the prepared dough into the pan and cover with the lid. If using parchment paper, you can simply pick up the parchment paper and place into the dutch oven (as long as your parchment paper is safe up to 450 degrees F). If you don't have parchment paper, just place the bread dough directly to the dutch oven, scored side up. DO NOT USE wax paper or a silicone baking sheet as the temperature of the oven is too hot for either! And really you should never use wax paper in the oven.
- Bake the bread covered for 30 minutes and then uncover to continue baking for 20 minutes, which will help to crisp up the exterior of the bread.
- Once baked, let the bread cool slightly in the pan and then turn out and finish cooling on a cooling rack. Allow bread to cool for 30 minutes before slicing.
There is nothing better than a slice of this Cranberry Walnut Bread when it is warm from the oven, but this bread can be used in so many ways.
- Create a sweet and savory sandwich by using the cranberry walnut bread as a base for a ham or turkey sandwich.
- Make a delicious grilled cheese sandwich, by layering slices of sharp cheddar cheese inbetween two slices of buttered cranberry walnut bread and then pan-frying until the bread is toasted and the cheese is melted.
- Use chunks of this Cranberry Bread to create a sweet and savory Ham and Egg Breakfast Casserole or for a delicious spin on French Toast Casserole.
Storing the Bread
Once the Cranberry Walnut bread is fully cooled, store the bread in an airtight sealed container or bag, at room temperature for 3-4 days.
To freeze Cranberry Walnut Bread, allow the bread to cool fully after being baked. Wrap well in plastic wrap, then a layer of foil, and then place in a freezer-safe bag. Store in the freezer for up to 1 month. Defrost at room temperature for 12 hours before serving.
Preventing the Bread from Sticking
If your dutch oven pan is good-quality, you should have no issue with this dough sticking to the pan. However, some people have reported this issue. To prevent this from happening, use parchment paper, or be sure to dust your bread with flour before transferring the bread dough to the pan. I don't recommend greasing the pan, as the oil can burn at the high temperature the bread is baked at.
More Homemade Bread Recipes
- Whole Wheat Cinnamon Raisin Bread
- Homemade Italian Bread
- Honey Whole Wheat Bread
- Whole Wheat Dutch Oven Bread
If you enjoyed this simple recipe for Cranberry Walnut Bread, I would love for you to leave a review and comment below.
Cranberry Walnut Bread
- In a large mixing bowl, mix together flour, yeast, salt, cranberries, and walnuts. Add in water and mix well with a wooden spoon.
- Cover with plastic wrap or a clean kitchen towel and set in a draft-free spot to rise for 12-18 hours undisturbed.
- After the proofing time has passed, turn the dough out onto parchment paper that has been sprinkled lightly with flour and quickly shape into a circle. It will be sticky, so you may want to flour your hands as well. And try to not overwork the dough--just a rustic circle is all you are going for. Let the dough rest, while the oven preheats.
- Place the dutch oven fitted with its lid in the oven. Preheat to 450 degrees F. (Let the pan preheat in the oven.)
- Once the pan is preheated, carefully remove it from the oven and then carefully place the prepared dough into the pan and cover with the lid. If using parchment paper that is safe up to 450 degrees F, you can simply pick up the parchment paper and place into the dutch oven. If you don't have parchment paper, just place the bread dough directly to the dutch oven. DO NOT USE wax paper or a silicone baking sheet.
- Bake for 30 minutes covered. Remove the lid and bake for an additional 20 minutes.
- Remove bread from dutch oven and let cool on a wire rack completely before slicing and serving.