This bread is so delicious for breakfast, especially when you toast it and spread some fresh honeycomb (yes, even the wax) right on top of it — it will melt into all the nooks and crannies. Really, honey is my favorite accompaniment for this bread. My bees produce a very floral sweet honey that pair perfectly with the tanginess of the cranberries and orange zest in this recipe.
If you’ve ever thought about keeping bees, here’s an article and video on how to get started. It’s truly worth it!
Because I’m in the South, where it’s pretty humid, I don’t need to use as much water to make the dough, so it’s better to start with less water and add more as you need it. Best thing about this recipe is that everything gets mixed up in one bowl, then you can set it aside to rise and get busy with other things!
3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 cup scalded milk, cooled slightly
3/4 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
1/4 cup maple sugar or brown sugar (plus more for dusting)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 tablespoon orange zest
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
2 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast
1/4 cup lukewarm water (can use more if necessary)
Combine all ingredients into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook (you can also mix by hand or use a bread machine) until you have a smooth dough. If the weather is dry, you may need to add a little more water to get a softer dough. Remove the dough and shape into a ball, then place into a greased bowl to rise for about two hours, until it is nearly doubled in size and puffed.
Push the risen dough down lightly to remove some of the air, shape it into a loaf shape and put it into a 9” x 5” loaf pan. Cover the pan with plastic wrap and let it rest for about two hours, until it has risen to the edge of the pan.
Preheat oven to 350°F. Brush the loaf lightly with a little water or milk and sprinkle lightly with about a teaspoon or two of maple or brown sugar. Bake in the center rack of the oven for 40 – 45 minutes until the top is golden brown (cover the top loosely with foil if it’s getting brown too quickly); if you have a digital thermometer, you can easily check for doneness by inserting it in the center of the bread and looking for it to be at least 190°F but not more than 205°F.
Remove from oven and let rest in the pan for five minutes before turning out onto a rack to cool completely. Store at room temperature for up to five days.