Cranberry Walnut Bread

I’ve been back in the US for 6 weeks now and apart from our weekly pizza night, I’ve yet to use my sourdough starter that I brought back from Umbria with me and then tenderly fed to bring it back to life. In Umbria, I bake healthy grain filled breads weekly that we use to toast, make sandwiches, or simply nibble on as a snack, as that type of bread is not readily found there.

Here in the US healthy grain bread is readily available so I find I just do not bake bread as often, even though it is something I truly enjoy. With the holidays approaching, I know I will have house full of hungry folks that all love breakfast, so I decided to break out my starter and bake this holiday inspired, cranberry studded bread made just a little healthier with the inclusion of whole wheat flour and walnuts.

If you do not have your own sourdough starter in the refrigerator, I will include a biga recipe which is an overnight starter that adds flavor to the bread.

This bread freezes really well, and is wonderful toasted. The bread is studded with walnuts and cranberries which add both a nice texture and sweetness to the bread. Please note that the amounts of flour and water are approximate. If your dough is dry, add a little additional water.

If you added a little too much water and your dough is a little too sticky, simply add a little extra flour. Bread is very forgiving unlike other baking projects so you can easily adjust as needed.


Buon Appetito!
Deborah Mele 

Cranberry Walnut Bread

Cranberry Walnut Bread

Yield: Makes 2 Loaves
Prep Time: 3 hours
Cook Time: 35 minutes

A pretty holiday inspired bread that both freezes and toasts really well.



  • 1/2 Teaspoon Active Dry Yeast
  • 1 Cup Lukewarm water
  • 2 Cups Unbleached, All-purpose Flour


  • 3 1/2 Cups All-purpose Flour
  • 1 Cup Whole Wheat Flour
  • 2 Cups Water (Approximate)
  • 1 Teaspoon Instant Yeast
  • 1 Teaspoon Salt
  • 1/2 Cup Sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon Ground Cinnamon
  • Zest From 1 Orange
  • 1 1/2 Cups Dried Cranberries
  • 1 1/2 Cups Chopped Walnuts


  1. For the biga, Mix the yeast and water together, and then slowly start adding the flour, mixing well.
  2. Cover with plastic wrap and let sit at room temperature for up to 6 hours and refrigerate overnight.
  3. The next day, take 1 cup of the biga (refrigerate rest for another project) and mix together with the flours, salt, cinnamon, orange zest, sugar, and yeast in a large bowl.
  4. Begin to add water, stirring as you go and add as much water as is needed to bring everything together into a fairly firm dough.
  5. Stir in the walnuts and cranberries, then dump the mixture out onto a lightly floured surface and knead by hand for 5 minutes until smooth.
  6. Lightly oil a large bowl and then place the dough in the bowl and cover with plastic wrap.
  7. Let the dough rise in a warm place in your kitchen until doubled in size, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
  8. Punch down the dough and divide it into two equal pieces.
  9. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  10. Share each ball of dough into an oval loaf and place each on a cornmeal dusted baking sheet.
  11. Cover the loaves with a kitchen towel and let rest 30 minutes.
  12. Cut three slashes into each loaf with a sharp knife and then bake until the internal temperature of the bread reaches 190 degrees F., about 35 minutes.
  13. Cool to room temperature before slicing.

Did you make this recipe?

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  1. Hi,
    I tried this bread and it was absolutely DELICIOUS and true to the recipe!! I didn’t use the full amount of cranberries or walnuts that the recipe called for thinking that quantity would be too much, but after it was finished I realized that that would have been the right amount. Next time I’ll use the correct measurement. Mine was not quite as airy as yours looks so I was trying to figure out what I should have done differently, for instance kneading it longer, letting it rise longer or my biga wasn’t quite right.

    Also, I wanted to know if I got the sourdough starter, do I substitute that for the biga (1 cup) and still use the instant yeast or omit it (the instant yeast)?

    Thank you! Everyone in my family loved it!! It was a complete success!! It reminds me of the Cranberry Walnut bread at Whole Foods except that one doesn’t list cinnamon as an ingredient and this one is homemade! This recipe is definitely a keeper and one that will be used often!! I just discovered your website and love it!!!


    1. Glad you liked the recipe, my family enjoyed it toasted over the holidays.
      The bigs or sourdough starter are interchangeable. I added the bigs into the recipe because I do use my starter, but both will work fine and the instant yeast is still included.

  2. Deborah, this is bread is THE best! I followed your recipe exactly, but thank you for the advice on adding or deleting water/flour. My dough was “sticky”, so I didn’t add all water, and added a little more flout. I rarely make bread and was nervous about the outcome. It was perfect! I may have baked a few minutes too long, but my husband and I love it! I am sharing with friends tomorrow. Just found your website, thank you again! (have you ever made 3 smaller loaves?)

  3. Hi,

    I made two loaves of this bread last week. It was the first yeast bread that I have ever made! I recently purchased a heavy duty kitchenaid mixer and it is wonderful to use when I need my dough to be kneaded. I gave one loaf to a friend of mine, who absolutely loved it toasted up in the morning with butter and the other loaf my roommate and I ate for breakfast throughout the week.

    Today, I tried the recipe again, but instead I flip flopped the flour types using 4.5 cups of whole wheat flour and 1.5 cups of white bread flour. I found the bread to be a little bit more moist and not as appealing as the last loaf I made and I am wondering if using the whole wheat instead of mostly white makes a difference in the final outcome?

    Thanks for sharing! I wil definitely be using this recipe for some time to come!


  4. I made a similar loaf using the same ingredients, but used carrot juice in place of water. I also baked it per Jim Lahey’s no knead method in a cast iron pot. This is so good, we had it with turkey cold cut and in the morning with cream cheese. I did not add cinnamon or sugar and this is one of my favorite loaves. I can’t wait to make it for Thanksgiving.

  5. I made this bread and it turned out AMAZING!! It makes a lot, so i gave some to a couple different households. Everyone loved it! I did make a couple of changes (mostly because i found the recipe and didn’t want to run to the store) I used white whole wheat flour, because that’s what i had on hand.

    AND i thought i had cranberries, but it wasn’t until i mixed them in that i realized it was a “ultra cranberry” mix! containing cherries, cranberries, and pomegranate! SOOO good! i will do that again the next time, and i suggest you try it too!

  6. I tried this recipe twice with excellent results.

    The second time I used 3/4 cups all-purpose flour and replaced the rest with WHITE whole wheat flour. I had to add 1/2 tsp extra salt and 1/8 cup of extra sugar to account for this replacement. The result was nuttier tasting, yet soft.

    Thank you so much for sharing this incredible recipe.

  7. i made this bread a before the holidays. it was great! I accidentally made a mistake that i think makes it even better, so i thought i would share. I sent my husband to grab the cranberries. And, true to husband form, he got the wrong thing. and i was dumb enough not to check it. Instead of just cranberries, he grabbed a bag that was a mixture of dried cranberries, cherries, and pomegrante. And they were delicious! a great combination of sweet and tart. I now make a point of grabbing them on purpose for this recipe. I’m making it again today 🙂 This is a great “gift” bread. Its pretty, rustic, and flavorful. And the recipe is big enough to share.

  8. Let me start by saying the flavour of this bread is amazing! I made this today however I ran into a problem with my end result being too doughy. I followed the recipe to the letter, and I even ended up baking the bread for over an hour in my gas oven. Is there a way to remedy this? I’m just going to eat it as toast because it’s way too yummy to get rid of. I want to try making it again I’m just not sure where I went wrong. Any advice or tips you could give me would be great!

    1. Just cook it a little longer. I test my bread with a thermometer and keep it in the oven until it reaches an internal temp of 190 degrees F.

      1. I have never tried but I would think freezing would stall the yeast. You can keep it in the refrigerator for a few days though.

  9. This bread sounds like what I’ve been looking for for a long time! One question….you said to use the rest of the biga for another use. I’m not familiar with using this, so do you have other recipes to use the balance of this? Thank you!

  10. Not clear on flour amounts? Is it 4 1/2 for the biga and another 4 1/2 + 1 cup biga for the bread?

  11. This bread looks amazing!!  I’m trying not to eat white sugar… Is it possible to substitute coconut sugar instead of the white sugar??

  12. JUST made this recipe — it smelled so delicious that I had to cut a piece and have with some butter.

    How would you suggest for this bread to be frozen? Would I need to cut up the bread before sticking it in the freezer?

    Do you know of a pizza dough recipe that can use up the extra “biga” ?

    Thank you for sharing this!

    1. Michelle, I do freeze this bread. My husband likes it sliced before freezing so he can pull out a slice or two whenever he wants, but it does hold up better in the freezer unsliced.

  13. My wife needed a Cranberry and Walnut bread for some “tea” type small sandwiches she was making. I used this recipe but modified it to exclude the cinnamon and only used about 1/4 of an orange for the peel. Also, since she needed loaf slices I baked the bread in loaf pans – lightly oiled and dusted with cornmeal. The loafs turned out great and I’ve since made this bread that way many times.

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