ADVANCE WARNING: This recipe is for bread that is rather addictive in nature and the recipe/instructions are intended for a bread machine, so if you’re a hands-on baker, I dunno what to tell you….there may be a site that tells you how to convert bread machine recipes?
Anyways, I LOOOVE my bread maker. I tried many times to replicate my Nana’s bread recipes–which were delicious and supposed to be easy to make–and every last loaf I made tasted entirely of yeast. Gross. I enjoy neither the taste of yeast nor hops (so I don’t like beer, either, ha!) SOOO when I got engaged, I added a bread machine to my registry. Of all the things I registered for and got (including a beautiful KitchenAid mixer in mint, lots of bakingware and kitchen gadgets), it’s probably the thing I use the most. Besides my silverware and pretty dishes, of course. I do love my dishes–they can make just about anything look pretty, which is good since my food presentation tends to be somewhat weak. I make a 1.5-2 lb loaf of bread pretty much every week; either this delicious bread I’m about to share with you or the yummy Italian Herb bread that was in the bread maker recipe packet that came with the machine. If I have another ‘lazy’ week (like this week) where I edit like crazy and don’t have time to devote to ‘real’ baking, I’ll post the Italian herb recipe. The recipe I’m sharing today is fantastic for breakfast, snacks, and padding your waistline. Also, I apologize–I don’t have a gluten-free version of this.
SPRINGY YUM-YUM BREAD–1.5 lb loaf
- 1 cup room-temp water
- 1/4 cup melted butter
- 1 large egg, beaten–room temp is fine
- 3 Tbsp half & half or heavy cream–room temp
- 1.5 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tsp almond extract (optional)
- 1 tsp salt
- 3 3/4 cups bread flour
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup baking cranberries or ‘Craisins’
- 1/4 cup sliced almonds
- 1/3 cup shredded coconut (optional)
- 2 tsp active dry yeast (bread machine yeast is awesome)
- Measure out carefully the wet ingredients and dump them into the bread pan. You don’t want any of them to be hot (because it will mess with the yeast) but if they are too cold, it will cause your butter to solidify into little chunks. The almond extract is very much optional; I honestly can’t taste enough of a difference with or without it that if I didn’t have it in my cabinet I would go out and buy it (and you DO have sliced almonds in here anyway). Almond extract is not exactly cheap.
2. Stir the ingredients up so that they’re somewhat blended together.
3. Measure carefully–level out all dry ingredients so you get the exact amount required–the salt and the flour and evenly pour them on top of the wet ingredients. You want the liquids to be completely covered by flour so that at the end when you add your yeast, it won’t touch the liquids. Add sugar and again pour across the pan to spread it out.
I’m not into brand names but Craisins cost half as much as ‘baking cranberries’. I would encourage you to break up the clumps of cranberries so that you don’t have huge gummy chunks of them in the bread. They’ll spread more evenly this way.
4. Here’s where we have a discrepancy–how you do this step is up to you. You can either put a little hollow in the middle of the flour and pour in your yeast (and again, make sure it’s not touching anything wet) and THEN add your almonds, coconut, and cranberries (spreading evenly over the top) OR you can pour the yeast in, shut the lid, and wait until your machine beeps at you during the kneading cycle to add them in. I prefer to dump everything in at once so that I don’t forget and also can walk away until the bread’s finished baking lol.
Kinda looks like a big bowl of granola, doesn’t it?
5. Snap your baking pan into place in your bread machine, close the lid, and choose the ‘sweet bread’ setting. On my machine it’s #4.
6. Choose 1.5 pounds as your loaf size, and set your crust color preference to either medium or dark–this is more of a ‘wet’ loaf and is very white, so even if you select “dark” as your crust color setting, it will get a nice suntan but will be super soft. Honestly it’s better to have it in there that much longer/at a hotter temperature while it’s cooking through. Mine gets to a nice golden brown but is still very very soft on the sides. I don’t cut the crusts off either–they’re not crusty! Hit the start button.
Look at that pretty dough ball!!
When your bread is done baking, either pop it out of the pan or leave it in–but don’t cut it until you’ve let it cool for at least 10 minutes so you don’t destroy it. I find that cutting it slowly (if it’s still warm) keeps it from getting shredded by the knife. Storage: this bread will keep on its own at room temp for 4-5 days; you can also keep it in the fridge for 1-2 weeks, just beware that it will be rather hard and will need to be warmed up in a microwave to be enjoyed properly ;o). It’s quite delicious with sweet butter. I tried cream cheese too but wasn’t crazy about it. Also makes good toast!